How to Financially Plan for a Wedding

Adviser CJ Miller details the key financial aspects of planning a wedding.
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By CJ Miller, CFP®, RMA®

How to Financially Plan for a Wedding

Weddings in the U.S. cost, on average, $33,900 in 2019 according to The Knot.

Given that, couples need to seriously consider the key financial aspects of getting married long before exchanging wedding vows.

Where to Start?

As with most large money goals, creating a budget is the first place to start when planning a wedding. Once a budget is established, it becomes much easier to plan the major aspects of your dream wedding. Of course, there are proposed budgets and actual budgets. The same is true when it comes to weddings, so prepare to spend a lot on unexpected items.

You and your partner will also have to discuss your expectations about the various elements of the wedding, including guest count, the venue, and the date. One hundred guests could be twice as expensive as 50 guests, but a 50-guest wedding may allow you to add more "bells and whistles." Given that, you and your partner will have to be prepared to compromise along the way. If you don't have those tradeoff discussions upfront, it will be a challenge to stay within your budget.

Managing Expenses

As part of the wedding planning process, you and your partner will likely spend a good deal of time searching for and selecting vendors. Note: the prices vendors quote are, to some extent and within reason, negotiable. And some vendors might even give you a price break for paying up front rather than over time or on a payment due date. If you're like me, there’s a psychological benefit that comes with paying a vendor upfront. Having the money out of my checking account in advance ensures I won't spend it twice. If you sign all those contracts and don't pay any advanced down payment, it will be a big hit when those bills come due.

Long before you select your vendors, however, you’ll need a system for managing expenses through the wedding planning process. Consider, as my fiancée and I did, a wedding-focused website such as theknot.com to track your expenses, timeline, guest list, and registry.

Tips to Save Money

Whether you’re buying a home or paying for a wedding, there are always some ways to save money. Consider, for instance, some cost savings strategies my fiancée and I used when planning our wedding:

· Get married on a Friday or Sunday - most vendors offer discounts for non-Saturday weddings

· Use “cash funds” on your gift registry to pay for items like dance lessons or the band

· Use credit card reward points to subsidize the honeymoon

· Have a pre- or post-“wedding celebration” to keep the guest list size down for the actual wedding

About the author: CJ Miller, CFP®, RMA®

CJ Miller, CFP®, RMA® is a financial planner with Sensible Money in Scottsdale, Arizona. Miller is also a member of the Financial Planning Association (FPA) of Greater Phoenix Board of Directors and involved in Active 20-30 Club.


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