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Personal Finance FAQ

How to Save Money for a Wedding

There are two ways to approach saving for a wedding.

First, let’s address the actual activity of saving. I recommend that the couple-to-be establishes a side account to put money aside for the wedding. This will put them in good stead for the future, as having that side account and practicing setting aside money for a large expense, such as the down payment for a house purchase, buying a car with cash, and putting money into their IRAs, will build the habits that the couple will need to be financially successful in the future.

Then, let’s address the spending aspect of the wedding. Given that the average wedding cost in 2019 was $33,900, plenty of room exists to try to trim wedding costs. The average number of wedding attendees is 136. That means that the average couple who is getting married spends almost $250 per person.

That’s a lot of wedding cake!

Here are some expenses to consider trying to trim to help you save money:

  • The number of guests. If the average number of attendees is 136, maybe you can shoot for 75. Is your special day going to be made or broken by whether a 4th cousin or your 3rd grade math teacher attends? Probably not. Instead, do a live stream of your wedding. That will save costs for you as well as for attendees who are on the fence about spending the money to travel to go to your wedding. I can assure you that in 10 years, your true friendships are not going to be determined on whether or not those friends attended your wedding.
  • Wedding planners. According to a survey by Novi, 48.5% of people who got married in the past 10 years say that a wedding planner was not worth it. Sorry, Jennifer Lopez. Particularly during the coronavirus pandemic, when most of us are forced to quarantine in place, we can plan these events ourselves.
  • Wedding favors. My wife and I have received a couple of wedding favors in the past. I have no idea where they are. They certainly aren’t displayed anywhere in our apartment. Neither will the ones that you buy. If you’re going to buy a favor, either buy gift cards, or make a donation to charity.
  • The wedding videographer/photographer. Don’t blow money on a videographer. 36% of the people surveyed in the Novi study say that they regred spending on one. Instead, find a family member or family friend who’s in high school who could use the money. They probably have a smart phone which has a camera that is almost, if not just as good as the one that you’d pay a fancypants videographer to use. Pay that person a hundred bucks to be your memory maker.
  • Negotiate hard with the service providers whom you are going to use. Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic is crushing the revenues of the wedding industry. They want and need business, and you’re providing it to them, so ask for a significant discount for payment up front. Pay with a credit card so that if the provider goes under, you can get your money back.

Once you have a good idea of your budget and how much you’re going to spend, take that number and divide it by the number of months left until your wedding (if you’re paid monthly) or 2 times the number of months that you have until your wedding (if you’re paid twice a month or biweekly). Then, set up an automatic transfer into your side account for that amount, and, once that is established, you won’t have to worry about paying for your wedding in cash.

If that amount is more than you can afford, then you need to trim back your expenses. The last thing that you want is to have your wedding start you off in a credit card hole, as 21% of divorcées cite money as the reason for their divorce.

By Jason Hull, CFP®

Jason Hull, CFP®, was the co-founder of Broadtree Partners, a firm that acquires $1-5MM EBITDA companies. He also was the co-founder of open source search consultancy OpenSource Connections, a premier Solr and ElasticSearch firm. He and his wife FIREd (financial independence retire early) at 46 and 45, respectively. He has a BS from the United States Military Academy at West Point and a MBA from the University of Virginia Darden Graduate School of Business.

You can read more about him in the About Page.

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