You’re about to embark on a journey that will change the course of your life. In the short term, at least. No, we’re not talking about your actual marriage, but planning — and paying for — your wedding.
This will undoubtedly be the biggest and most expensive party you’ll ever throw, and while you want it to be memorable, saving up enough cash to pay for it all can seem daunting.
Thankfully, there are some tricks you can employ to lessen the stress of those looming expenses, and help you devise a plan to pay for them without going broke.
Before you even start
Break down your total budget into digestible chunks by using some simple math, David Bach, founder and chairman of FinishRich Media and author of Smart Couples Finish Rich, said to The Knot. Take your total budget and divide it by the number of months you have before the big day. If that monthly number is too high, either reconsider your wedding date or start slashing things from the wedding plans that aren’t necessary.
Consider things like scheduling a date during wedding “off-season,” which are the months of January, March, April and November, when vendors and venues typically cost less. Also, while Saturday is the most popular party day, it’s also the most expensive. Sundays are cheaper for venues, and if you’re in need of hotel rooms, rates tend to be lower on Sunday through Thursday.
Crunch your numbers
Your number of guests, that is. Carmen Luk, owner and principal planner of Devoted To You Inc. wedding planning company, says your guest list is the most variable cost to your overall budget. Once you have a ballpark figure of how many people to expect, then you can allot money in your budget accordingly.
“Food and beverage will likely cost around 50 per cent of your budget,” she says. “Other variable costs that are ultimately dependent on your number of guests include wedding favours, invitations and decor.”
Give yourself ample time to save
Luk says 12 to 18 months should provide you with enough time to squirrel away money.
“Setting your wedding date a bit further away allows you to shop around for vendors and space out payments since the larger amounts are due closer to the wedding day,” she says. “However, I don’t recommend booking any vendors over 18 months in advance because you run a greater risk of losing your deposit if the vendor ends up going out of business.”
Plus, if you give yourself too much lead time, it can rule your life and saving for the wedding can end up supplanting other reasonable luxuries.
“People who have two-year engagements end up limiting themselves,” says Malvina Pelleriti, owner and lead coordinator of Brilliant Weddings. “For those two years, all they’re thinking about is saving for the wedding and it limits them from doing other things, like planning a little getaway or buying a new sofa.”
Where to cut costs
Look at your biggest budget determinant: the guest list.
“I talk to my clients about having a must-have list and a back-up list. The must-haves are the people you definitely want to invite. As their replies come in and people decline, you can send invitations to the back-up invitees,” Pelleriti says.
Other places where you can save money include the invitations and flowers. Pelleriti suggests setting up a wedding website where people can automatically RSVP, this way you’ll save anywhere from $500 to $700 on printing costs as well as on stamps. And consider weaving silk flowers into your floral arrangements — they look remarkably real and are a fraction of the price of fresh flowers.
“The cost of a wedding cake is based on how intricate you want the design to be. If you want a four-tier cake, you can have two tiers made of cake and two that are faux,” Pelleriti says. “The top two tiers are smaller, so have those made out of cake and have the two bigger ones made out of styrofoam. No one will know and it can save you about $300 on the total cost.”
Transportation is another place where you can scale back.
“Instead of hiring a limo that will cost you $1,000 or more, ask some of the bridal party members to drive,” Luk says. Or book an upscale rideshare like UberSelect.
You will have to make sacrifices
No matter what you’re saving for, building a nest egg takes sacrifice. Start by examining monthly memberships and subscriptions, and cut those first. That might mean having to cancel a gym membership, but personal training apps and virtual exercise classes make it easy to get in a good workout with few costs.
“Instead of buying your fancy coffee every day, try making your own coffee at home, and eat out less frequently,” Luk says. “These are small sacrifices, but the money you’ll save adds up quickly.”
At the end of the day, however, the biggest sacrifice you’ll make is time. And you need to be prepared for that, Pelleriti says.
“Couples need to know that planning a wedding will take time away from friends, families and even your partner,” she says. “It’s the most personal sacrifice and the biggest. But you know it’s going to be worth it.”
Think of ways to earn some extra money
If you or your partner do shift work, consider picking up some extra shifts and vow to put that money directly into your wedding fund. The same goes with freelancing.
“Selling items that you don’t need anymore online is a good way to make some extra cash and can also de-clutter your space,” Luk says. This comes with the dual benefit of adding to your budget while reducing the stress that comes with living in a messy or cluttered environment.