According to some research I did recently, the average wedding in the United States costs about $24,000. That is a lot of money! Depending on who is paying for it and if they have the money, I say more power to you.
The problem is that too many people just start spending away, not paying too much attention to what everything costs. There are definitely some things you need to take into consideration before writing the checks.
1) Who is paying for what?
This is an extremely important piece of information and there are so many different potential answers. You may find that you and your fiance are covering most or all of the expenses. Maybe (if you’re very blessed) you or your fiance’s parents are paying for everything. Sometimes it is a mix such as: groom’s parents cover the rehearsal dinner, bride and groom cover the honeymoon, and bride’s parents cover the rest. Either way, don’t assume you know. Avoid hurt feeling and/or deep wounds by asking all parties involved what is expected. Ideally, bride and groom, along with all parents involved, can all go to dinner together and discuss who is responsible for what.
2) How much?
Once it is established who is paying for what, the amount each person is willing to pay must be established. If you are covering the expenses yourself, you need to determine how much you can afford. I NEVER recommend going into debt for your wedding. It’s just not worth it. I know it’s hard to hear this right now, but you will still be married at the end of they day whether you pay $100 or $100,000. Save up and pay cash for everything that you need to pay for.
3) Do a Budget.
The best way (and only way I really know of) to make sure you do not spend more than you (or whoever is paying) can afford is to do a budget. Download this budget as a guide to make sure you cover everything. Write the amount you have available to spend at the top. Next, make some calls and start shopping to get an idea on how much things are going to cost. The key is that the amount you have to spend minus what you spend equals zero. Notice on the downloadable budget I already have the zero in there for you. Do not go over the amount budgeted. It will be a great test for you to see how you can create and live on a budget when you are married. Chances are, you will have to make some tough decisions. You may not get exactly what you dreamed about with your flower arrangement, for example, because you decided to splurge on your wedding dress. It is all about give and take until you find a way to make it work with money you have available.
When it is all said and done, just breathe! I know your wedding is an extremely exciting, but also stressful event. I hope and pray that you concentrate more on the exciting than you do the stressful. One of the best ways to do that is to know who is paying for what, know the amount you have to spend, and to have a spending plan. Make it a day to remember for all the right reasons and as I said before: the important thing is that you will be married no matter what happens or how much you spend!