So, you just got engaged and now it is time to start planning for your wedding. Sure, you can set a budget, but once you do how do you ensure you save up enough money to fund your big day?
“With the average wedding cost hovering around $29,000 — it’s normal to wonder how you’ll cover those costs in a big chunk,” says Jessica Bishop founder of The Budget Savvy Bride. “While it can be tempting to take out a loan to cover hefty payments up front, think about how long it will take to pay off that balance after the big day. The best way to fund a wedding is to pay for it without debt or added interest.”
Here we give you the scoop on how to save with tips from a bride who just went through the process as well as the wedding planning experts who do this for a living.
Start saving as soon as you get engaged
Meagan Drillinger, a freelance writer, who was married in June 2023, said she set a budget and then started saving the moment her now husband David proposed.
“I took the budget for our wedding and divided it by 14, which was the number of months between our engagement and the wedding. That way I knew how much I had to be saving each month,” Drillinger says. “I put that money into an Ally Savings Account. Ally has great interest rates, so I was making a decent amount of interest every month on that money. That helped bridge the gap, too.”
Amber Massey, who is the owner of Epic Elopements, a planning service focused on budget conscious, micro-weddings with less than 50 guests, agrees.
“It’s no joke. Weddings are expensive. The industry has built up an empire of ways to get you to spend more money. My suggestion is if you are planning a year in advance, start saving immediately,” says Massey. “Have the money automatically taken out from your paycheck. You never see it and you will build your wedding fund a lot easier.”
Take a close look at your monthly expenses and see where you can cut back
Another top tip is to go through your monthly expenses with a fine-tooth comb. See what you are spending money on and cut back on what isn’t necessary.
“I didn’t even realize I was still paying for a streaming service I never used. I cut that out,” says Drillinger. “Saving a little bit from a lot of different places will add up eventually.”
Also consider adding a side hustle to increase your savings as well. Drillinger says she took on more freelance writing assignments during her engagement period to add to her wedding savings.
“I said yes to all the assignments I was offered,” Drillinger says. “It wasn’t always the most exciting work, but it worked. And even after the wedding is over, I figured it never hurts to have more clients to call upon whenever you need a little extra cash.”
Other options could be your partner and you signing up to drive or make deliveries a few days a week. Or go through your closet and see if there are items you don’t need and sell them online.
Pay in full as soon as you have the funds saved
As soon as she had enough to pay for different pieces of the wedding, she paid in full, Drillinger tells us. Her catering, for instance, cost $3,200, so as soon as she had that amount, she paid the caterer immediately.
“This way, I was not left with such a daunting amount owed by the time the wedding date arrived. Most everything was already paid for by our wedding week, which helped take a huge amount of stress off my shoulders,” she says.
“Start with the bigger details and pay minimum deposits to hold the date, then set a schedule to pay along the way, instead of one big lump sum right before the day,” she says.
Carefully consider what you are including in your wedding budget
If you’ve been saving up but still feeling like you don’t have enough to meet your budget, consider cutting down on extraneous extras like wedding favors.
“Wedding favors are an easy one to cut, especially anything of the personalized tchotchke variety featuring your names and wedding date– sorry to say, they often end up in the trash. By making thoughtful compromises, you can regain financial control without sacrificing your vision,” says Bishop.
You can also consider other out of the box solutions to decrease your costs.
“I knew I wanted a professional photographer, so I reached out to a friend who takes photos for a living, and we worked out a barter agreement,” Drillinger says.
Another option is to hire a photographer for the wedding itself and take your group shots. But then let your guests to be your photographers and videographers for the party and rehearsal dinner, where professional photos are less important. Create a Google drive folder and make sure all the guests have it. They can upload all their photos and images there for easy sharing.
Weddings are pricey, and saving for them can be super stressful. Just remember that at the end of the day, your wedding is about you and your partner creating a memory that will last a lifetime. Focus on what is most important to you as a couple, and not what society says is important. It will be easier to be happy about your choices on your wedding day.
“Spend time with your partner to make sure you are both on the same page. Have a conversation about what both of you want out of your day, what is important to you and why,” says Massey. “I truly believe your wedding day should be focused on each other, and not all the details. Just because a wedding is inexpensive, doesn’t mean it can’t be epic.”