You've said "yes," shared the photo of your shiny sparkler on social media, and finally gotten down to the nitty-gritty of planning the big day. It soon becomes clear that the road leading up to your happily ever after will set you back by quite a bit. Talking finances is the unromantic side of weddings but you can't have one without the other.
Naturally, the world changed in the wave of the 2020 pandemic and weddings were no exception. Folks couldn't travel much to attend nuptials hosted out of state, let alone in a foreign country. Gradually, things started opening up but couples still held onto certain aspects popularized by the COVID period, like planning micro weddings.
However, lavish, grand weddings are still as popular as ever going into 2022. Regardless of the scale of your big day, it will still cost a pretty penny to get hitched. Naturally, wedding budgets are subjective and you should simply make sure that your money is well spent.
A Guide to Saving Money When Planning Your Wedding
The day you've dreamed about for as long as you can remember deserves all the stops. However, it doesn't have to break your bank because you can always find great deals and save big when planning your big day. Cutting costs doesn't mean that you won't have a fabulous event, and here are tips to explore when planning your wedding.
Who said that weddings only happen on Saturdays?
Picture having a Friday or Sunday wedding or even scheduling your big day for any other day of the week. You'll likely shave thousands off costs related to locking down your wedding venue if you go for any other day other than Saturday. Besides the site fees, you'll also access lower food and beverage minimums which work for smaller parties.
On top of that, you might want to consider scheduling your wedding during an off-peak season. That means exploring the deep winter dates which usually fall in the months of January, February, and March in many places.
Invite fewer people
It goes without saying that you'll spend less on a smaller wedding party. A smaller guest count will save you cash off of every item on your wedding list. It's easier to invite fewer people off the bat than having to scale down in the thick of things.
Unless you want to be generous, it's perfectly fine not to offer plus-one invitations to every guest. Limit plus-ones invitations to the guests who are married or have serious long-term partners.
Minimize the wedding invitation suite
It's possible to save substantially by sending out single invite inserts that point guests to your wedding website. That's where you can also post all other wedding-related information including rehearsal dinner dates as well as logistics and other details related to the big day.
Alternatively, print out all your wedding stationery at once to minimize the printing fees. That includes the wedding invitations, programs, and menus. Send out RSVP postcards instead of traditional cards that require additional stamps and envelopes.
Keep it seasonal
Expenses related to wedding flowers and catering instantly reduce if you choose to keep these aspects seasonal. Settle for locally-grown food and buy in-season blooms. It saves you the hassle as well as the cost of sourcing certain types of flowers or foreign cuisine.
If perhaps for sentimental reasons you want to ship in exotic food, balance it out by settling for seasonal flowers. Also, embrace minimalism when it comes to wedding bouquets to save extra expense.
Choose out-of-the-box wedding venues
Consider settling for out-of-the-box locations like city parks, libraries, cafes, and sailboats. School gymnasiums, community halls, and even a friend's backyard are other modestly-priced spaces worth exploring.
To also cut back on costs tied to the venue choice; host the ceremony and reception in the same place. If you must pick different locations, make sure that they are at least within walking distance.
Go for an all-inclusive venue
When scouring around town for a wedding venue, consider locations that offer all-inclusive packages. Such arrangements offer plenty of amenities as well as services to pretty much take care of your nuptials from start to finish.
These event spaces provide services like on-site coordination, event rentals, catering, decoration, and guest accommodation. Bundling everything proves much more economical rather than outsourcing these services independently.
Upcycle wedding decor
There are two approaches to this aspect; you could repurpose/recycle/upcycle holiday decor for your rustic/vintage-themed nuptials. On the other hand, you could simply use the same decorations for your ceremony and reception.
The floral arrangements are the most flexible wedding decoration pieces. For instance, you could adorn the reception tables with the bridesmaids' bouquets. The same applies to the chairs but that could involve parting with a minimal moving fee.
Be a social media deal hunter
These days social media platforms are powerful marketing tools, and they can link you with incredible deals. Once you start browsing wedding-related content, it unlocks the floodgates of targeted social media ads.
In the midst of the noise, you are likely to spot details about trunk shows, promotions, and sample sales. You could find the perfect wedding dress at a designer trunk show for much less than in the store or boutique. A few salons are generous enough to offer complimentary customizations with such deals.
Rent instead of buying
From your wedding accessories and groomsmen tuxedos to the decorations; it proves cost-effective to rent versus buy. This allows you to don a diamond necklace on your big day when maybe in reality you could not purchase one. Naturally, the downside to this arrangement is having to return everything and possibly paying damage fees.
Alternatively, borrow items from friends and family including jewelry, pieces of furniture, and wedding portraits. They'll double up as your "something borrowed" making them even more sentimental. Best still, you won't pay anything in most cases.
If your budget is exceptionally slim or you simply want an intimate wedding, consider eloping. In the past, most elopements were all about getting married without alerting your loved ones. These days, they include the closest family and friends and they can be a bit fancy if you please. Overall, elopements are more affordable compared to other types of weddings.
The $28,500 average wedding cost myth
I’m not a math person. In fact, when I’m commenting on other blogs and their comment approval system uses a math problem to prove that I’m human I panic.
So that’s why until recently I’ve always believed what news outlets and infographics on Pinterest have told us all: that the average cost of a wedding is in fact (at least here in America) $28,500. Or at least that’s what the number came out to in 2012.
$28,500 is A LOT of money. That’s some person’s salary. And it really got me thinking – is that true?
Well, I don’t believe it is and here’s why:
If you want to know how much brides in America are spending on their weddings you need to look at the median, not the average.
What happens with an average is this: 9 brides have a wedding and they each spend around $15,000. The tenth bride comes along and has a luxury wedding and it costs her $150,000. Add all those weddings up and then divide by 10 to get the average, which in this case comes out to $28,500.
But 9 out of 10 brides had weddings WELL below what the media are now telling you is the average cost of a wedding in America!
(I really hope my math pleases right on this. Someone check for me)
So does that make the average cost of a wedding in this example $28,500? Mathematically yes, but certainly not in the way that we use and understand the word average on a day-to-day basis.
What you should be looking for if you’re interested in this sort of thing is the median. What the median is quite literal (in Latin) ‘the middle number.’ To find that you take your data sample, line them all up from highest to lowest, and whatever the middle number is would be your median. So in my imaginary example, the median cost of a wedding in America would be $15,000.
Media outlets like The Knot and The Wedding Channel periodically collect data from surveys they do where the bride's type in how much their wedding budget is or former brides disclose how much their wedding cost. They then average it out and get a number like $28,500.
Then news outlets like Huffington Post and Financial Times blast that all over the Internet and people around the world gawk in shock and horror and leave opinionated comments haranguing those who choose expensive weddings or bashing industry professionals what they charge.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m not disparaging people who have expensive weddings. I had an expensive wedding. But what does get me going is when I hear brides-to-be talking about how their wedding is going to be terrible or ugly because they can’t afford near the ‘American average.’ Or when couples think that they need to spend close to $28,500 just to get married to each other. Or when people start accusing florists, wedding planners, and other industry professionals for price gouging.
That number is a myth and now you know why.
Credits: image via OneWed