Getting married is one of the most significant and most exciting events you can go through. As Billy Crystal said in When Harry Met Sally, “when you realise you want to spend the rest of your life with someone, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.”
Photo by Wedding Dreamz
While wedding planning often takes quite a bit of time, it can also take a lot of money. The average wedding (as of 2018) costs nearly $34,000. Obviously, some people can pull off a celebration for quite a bit less. But, between cakes, catering, dresses, and decor, it can be hard to keep costs low. Even finding the right venue can be costly, and that’s just the beginning.
So, couples need to know how to budget for their big days.
Beyond that, it’s just as crucial to have a budget in place for what comes next. All of your focus might be on your wedding day, but your life together starts after that, and having a financial plan in place will make the first few months of your marriage much smoother. Money can be an argumentative trigger for many couples. It doesn’t have to be a problem for you or your partner if you’re committed to setting a budget and sticking with a plan.
Not sure how to do that?
Let’s cover a few helpful tips you can use for your wedding day, as well as some insight into how you should be planning for your future and the purchases a newlywed couple typically faces.
How to Budget for Your Big Day
People tend to go all out for weddings because they’re a celebration. You want to invite everyone who cares about you and make sure they have a good time. It’s a wonderful excuse to gather everyone you love together to celebrate your union. But, if you both come from big families and have many friends, that starts to add up quickly when it comes to how much everything costs.
If you’re on a budget, or you just don’t want to go overboard on your big day, there are plenty of things you can do to cut back without sacrificing the components of a grand celebration.
First, talk about the guest count. It’s normal to want everyone you love to celebrate with you, but sometimes that’s not realistic. Talk to your partner about who you both want to invite, and estimate the cost of each person. You might have to scale back on your guest list, but sometimes it’s the only way to save a substantial amount of money.
Next, consider all of the traditional wedding costs you’ll have to cover, including:
- Wedding rings/bands
Once you’ve created an exhaustive list, give each item a number. Think about the things that are most important to you. For example, if you adore flowers and have a specific image of what you want, you might consider splurging on your floral arrangements and cutting back elsewhere. If you’re a music lover, you’ll want to make sure to invest in a good DJ while cutting back on decorations.
This is an excellent way of balancing things out to stay within your budget and allows you to keep everything, even if it’s scaled back.
Another popular trend is to DIY as much as possible for your big day. Create your floral arrangements or handmade decorations. If you have a family member or friend who loves cooking or baking, ask them to cater. You can still have all of the “bells and whistles” at a fraction of the cost when you take care of things yourself.
Look at Your Finances Ahead of Time
Before you even start working on your wedding budget, you should look at your overall budget and its relation to the things you want as a couple. We’ll talk more about some of the financial goals you might have in the next section.
But, having a basic understanding of your joint finances will make the budgeting process for everything that much easier. Ask yourself the following questions, both individually and as a couple:
- What are you planning to spend your money on in the short term?
- What are you planning to spend your money on in the long term?
- What are some of your financial goals?
- Where will the majority of your finances go during your first few months of marriage?
Compare your finances ahead of time and decide how you want to handle them on a long-term basis. Some couples choose to have joint bank accounts while others don’t. The ones who don’t typically split basic living costs like a mortgage, utilities, food, and extras, so everything is fairly distributed.
No matter how you decide to split or combine your finances, building a budget should be done together. That can be tricky if you’re not used to sharing or splitting money, but that’s why it’s a good idea to work it out before you walk down the aisle. After you analyse your expenses and income, get things organised to make sure you’re not overspending. Doing so will help you reach your financial goals faster.
Seeing where your money is going each month can make it easier to decide where you can cut back. For example, you might be signed up for several monthly subscription services. How often do you use them? Or, you might go out to eat several times a week, when you could save more money by cooking at home. Because of your financial goals, it’s important to find ways to save or put your savings toward debts or significant purchases. Utilise each other’s strengths to manage your finances effectively. If you’re stronger with math, it might be your job to balance your budget each month. If your partner is organised and efficient, they might be in charge of paying the bills.
When you commit to handling your finances together, even before you get married, you’ll create a habit that will last a lifetime and lead to far fewer arguments about money management in your household.
Focus on the Future
Once the wedding is over, you’re going to have to find a place to walk over the threshold together. It’s not uncommon for newlyweds to go house hunting or even buy a home before they get married since it can take up to 6 months for a home purchase to be finalised.
Before you decide on buying your first home together, ask yourself how long you plan to live there, if you plan on growing your family, and if you can comfortably afford it. Keep in mind that you might have other major expenses in the next few years, including cars, home improvements (wherever you end up living), and even children, if that’s in your plan. Weighing out the pros and cons of different home buying aspects and make sure your decision reflects what you want for your future.
Being in a financially secure marriage goes far beyond the wedding day. So, while budgeting for your big event is important, take the time to focus on the future, too. Once you say “I do,” you’ll have peace of mind knowing that you’re on the same page as your partner, and that can start your marriage off on the right financial foot.