When J.Lo told us that “love don’t cost a thing,” she wasn’t being completely forthcoming. The Knot 2017 Real Weddings Study found that the average American wedding costs more than $30,000.
If that number gives you cold feet, don’t feet. It’s possible to have a beautiful and fun wedding without going broke. By booking less expensive dates in less expensive places, going a little DIY, and focusing your budget on the details that really matter, you won’t have to start your life together with the ball and chain of debt shackled to your ankles. Here’s our guide to help you have your wedding cake and eat it, too—and still have enough dough to invest in your new family’s future.
It probably doesn’t surprise you that where you get married has a huge impact on your budget. We’re not just talking about the venue, though that is a factor. The state, city, and even the neighborhood where you say your vows can add thousands of dollars to the tab. Do some shopping for cities to find the one with a venue that works with your budget. Ultimately, there may be some travel required, but with a little creative thinking and a guest list of adventurous souls, you can turn your wedding weekend into a unique trip for everyone.
We’ve all experienced wedding season— that period from late spring to early fall, where it feels like you’re getting gussied up every weekend to witness friends or family say, “I do.” Setting a date outside of these months can help you cut costs, but there are a few wedding season quirks to be aware of. December isn’t technically wedding season, but it is popular for holiday parties, so many venues and vendors will be asking top dollar. Different regions of the country also have different wedding seasons. The Southwest states because it’s just so darn hot outside—and who doesn’t love an outdoor wedding?
The day of the week matters, too. Saturdays are the preferred party day among brides and grooms, but Fridays and Sundays are just as good for clinking champagne glasses and busting a move on the dance floor. You’ll save money across the board by moving to the front or back of the weekend. Bonus? Out-of-town guests can get more time to do their own thing, if they like.
Just a touch of DIY
Unless you’re a wedding planner, no one expects you to do everything yourself. But there are ways to save money by being self-sufficient. Apps and websites are great for finding gently used wedding decorations, like lighting, dishware, flatware, votive candles, and vases. The people who most likely bought the stuff at retail price are probably more than happy to unload it onto you, and you’ll pay way less.
Focus on the details that matter
Wedding favors are a nice thought, but you’re the only one thinking about them. Your guests will remember your wedding because of the great music, the delicious food, and—of course —the chance to see you and your love tie the knot. Your money should go to the party, not the thing people will throw away when it’s over. Now, depending on your guests, the bar tab can reach stratospheric heights quickly. Don’t skimp on a variety of the good stuff, but feel no shame in closing the bar during dinner in exchange for a glass of wine or champagne on the tables. Even the thirstiest guests will survive an hour without a scotch and water.
Turning savings into investments
With the money you saved throwing a party you and your guests will talk about for years, you and your spouse can start your new life with some financial protection. Purchasing life insurance is simple and affordable. The sooner you get it, the better protection you’ll have for your family as it grows. It’s a great way to say, “I do care about protecting our family now, and even when death do we part.”