NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Figuring out wedding costs can be a big issue, and traditionally the parents (and sometimes grandparents) of the couple are expected to contribute. The Knot reports that parents paid for 57% of the average U.S. weddings in 2010, with the bride's parents paying for 45% and the groom's parents paying 12%.
According to The Knot Real Weddings Study, the average cost of a wedding in the U.S. is $29,858 -- a five-year high that can get even higher with geography. If you live in New York City, that figure jumps to $86,916, or a full year's combined income for two middle-income newlyweds (or their parents).
"Wedding budgets have been increasing steadily since the economic downturn of 2008, and in 2013 couples spent a record high average of nearly $30,000," says Carley Roney, co-founder of The Knot. "Couples are more focused than ever on creating a unique, personalized and once-in-a-lifetime experience for their guests -- plus they're doing so in a modern way, by planning from their smartphones, publicizing details on social media and more."
Jenny Rothstein, a financial consultant at Charles Schwab, says creative and determined moms and dads don't need to spend anywhere near $30,000 on their children's wedding day. They just need a plan that makes the wedding day a great one but doesn't burn a hole in their bank account.
"Parents put a lot of pressure on themselves to give their children the perfect wedding day, but if that requires taking out a loan or dipping into retirement savings, it's important to start considering where to cut costs," Rothstein says. "That usually requires some compromise."
Rothstein offers four tips that can help curb the costs of their wedding day:
Plan ahead. Treat a wedding as you would any big budget costs, such as college or retirement. "Just like any other major expense, your child's wedding should be a line item in your financial plan," Rothstein says. "Depending on your budget and time horizon, determine a monthly savings goal and investment mix."
Set a total budget and stick to it. Don't worry about perfection on the wedding day. Instead, aim for a combination of quality and value. "To avoid overspending, clearly communicate your total wedding budget and stand firm on that amount," she adds. "Set the expectation that any additional costs will come out of your child's wallet."
Moderate compromise. Talk with the bride and groom to determine their wedding day priorities, then work backward. "If they're having trouble deciding where to make cuts, consider whether an expense will benefit everyone at the wedding or just the wedding party," Rothstein says.
Don't sacrifice retirement. A fairytale wedding may be the most important thing to your child right now, but always keep the bigger picture in mind. "If wedding expenses are impacting your retirement savings, you're likely spending too much," she warns.