Money is an uncomfortable subject of conversation for most people regardless of the circumstance, but it becomes even more of a sore spot in stressful times, such as wedding planning.
A quick Google search will tell you that the average American wedding costs between $30,000 – $35,000. That’s a lot of money spent on one day, which makes it even more important to talk about.
Here’s a list of things to consider when navigating the financial side of wedding planning.
Figure this out first. Are your parents giving you money? Future in-laws? Maybe your family has been saving for this moment for years, or maybe you and your future spouse will be paying for it yourselves. Regardless, don’t be afraid to ask the questions necessary to figure out who is paying for what, and then stick with it.
You may find it easiest to collect all the money from whoever is paying and pay any vendors yourself to streamline things. Others may prefer to have their parents (or whoever is footing the bill) make payments to vendors directly. All of these are things to consider and discuss with your partner (and guarantors) on the front end of the planning process.
What’s your budget?
If you’re saving for your own wedding, you may find this article by The Knot helpful for the logistic side of it.
As far as the emotional side of saving money goes:
realize that money means different things to different people, and so it may mean different things to you than it does to your partner.
Some of us have healthy relationships with money, others unhealthy. Take a moment before you get into the rough waters of expensive wedding planning to explore your own relationship with money and discuss it with your partner. Are you a saver or a spender? Does spending money make you anxious or make you feel good? Are you able to locate who/where your feelings and messages you have engrained about money come from? Talk through this with your partner in order to create some understanding of where you’ll both be coming from when it comes to spending for the wedding but also spending for the rest of your lives together. Money issues are one of the top predictors of divorce, so don’t underestimate how important these conversations are. It may be helpful to talk to a therapist about this as well, either as an individual or as part of premarital counseling.
How can you cut costs?
There are a lot of ways to get creative in the wedding planning department that may result in saving some money. Maybe you decide to cut your guest count way down. Maybe you decide to elope with just close family for the ceremony and throw a big party back home as your “reception”. Maybe your family or someone you know has a lot of land so you can throw together a “backyard” wedding. Maybe you do want a traditional big wedding, but there are certain aspects you don’t care much about, so you cut costs there.
It’s helpful to identify one or two things you really, really care about, go all out for those, and “skimp” a little on the rest.
For example, at our wedding, my husband and I really valued how our day was captured, and so we were willing to pay more for a photographer and videographer, but didn’t think it was necessary to provide ceremony programs or upgrade any of our chairs, linens, or décor. All of this is personal preference.
Check out this article by The Knot for more money-saving strategies.
Is someone trying to control you with their money?
When others use money as control – this most likely isnt’ the first time this has happened in your relationship. Those who use money as means for manipulation tend to do this in other areas of life before the wedding day. If you know the person offering to assist in your wedding tends to do this, maybe it would be better to thank them for the offer but not accept it. If you don’t believe you have a choice (which you do – you should see a therapist about this) or would rather feel controlled than find another financial means, start by being grateful for the financial help. Also know that sometimes financial help means those who are fronting the bill are going to have opinions. Set boundaries where they need to be and let go of the rest.
Cost to Guests
Another thing to consider, if it’s important to you, is to consider costs to guest. Often times guests spend money getting to and staying near the wedding and finding the perfect gift. Those in your bridal party are asked even more: making investments in hosting events, attire and accessories for the day, and giving gifts. Some of this is expected, but being mindful of what you are asking for is what will differentiate you from a groom- or bride-zilla.
Don’t let the sticky topic of money intimidate you when planning your wedding. Have the conversations you need to have, and reach out to a therapist if you realize that money carries extra weight for you and your partner. And remember: ultimately, your wedding is about you and your partner, love, and celebration – you can’t put a dollar sign on that.