Complied by Dianne Edwards
According to current statistics, the average wedding in the United States can cost upwards of $27,000 – not including the honeymoon. In order to save those precious funds toward something the new couple might need (such as a down payment on a new home,) many of today’s brides and grooms are choosing to plan the wedding themselves.
Begin with a little practicality and perspective. After the wedding day passes, what do you really have to show for the grand event? There are the rings, of course; the gown, the bridal photos, the photo albums, and the video. Don’t skimp on these items. The rings will be worn, the photos and videos shared and enjoyed for decades to come.
You might consider buying or renting a wedding gown that you like – it will most likely be packed away indefinitely, anyway.
Do spend the extra money to hire a professional photographer and videographer. The bride and groom will be caught up in the moment and miss the entry of their attendants. The photos will capture the special moments but a video will ensure the bride and groom (and any absent family members) will enjoy the entire ceremony. Once the day has passed, recapturing the pictures and candid moments are gone forever. Don’t cut corners here!
Establishing the Budget
A large-budget expense is determined by the number of guests you invite. Trimming the list down to those you truly care about is important when cost is a concern.
Be sure to consider all of the details when estimating costs so that you stay within your budget.
About 3 percent of your budget should be allocated for the officiant fee, marriage license, musician’s fees, the ring pillow and flower girl baskets.
Experts say reception costs will average more than 40 percent of the total amount spent on the wedding. Consider the reception site, food, drinks, chair and table rentals, cake and reception favors.
The bridal gown, veil, undergarments, shoes, hair, makeup and accessories will absorb about 10 percent of your expense. Included are the groom’s tuxedo or suit, shoes, tie, cuff links and suspenders.
The purchase of your individual wedding rings and any engraving expense should take up no more than 3 percent of your budget. Flowers including the ceremony and centerpiece arrangements, the bride’s bouquet, and flowers for the maid-of- honor, bridesmaid bouquets, corsages and boutonnieres and flower girl basket, generally take up about 8 percent.
About 12 percent of your wedding expense will be directed toward the musicians, a band or DJ for the reception, and a sound system rental.
Depending on your selections, your photographer and videographer fees, photo albums and additional prints could run about 4 percent of your total budget. Plan to spend about 3 percent on transportation of the wedding party, any guest shuttles, parking fees or valet parking (depending on location.)
Your invitations, response cards, thank you acknowledgements, postage and guest book average about 3 percent of the budget, as well. Most couples also spend about 3 percent to purchase gifts for the bridesmaids, groomsmen, parents, and any gift baskets left in the room for out-of-town guests. Another 8 percent is absorbed by miscellaneous expenses.
An often-missed expense also includes any necessary tipping for caterers, limo drivers, photographers and other service professionals. (This 15% to 20% is often included in billing.) These percentages are estimates and do vary greatly depending on location and selections made by the couple.
How Can I Reduce the Expense?
Some tips to reduce the cost of your wedding include:
• Schedule your wedding ‘off-season’ (November through April) when costs for the reception site may be reduced.
• Select a day other than Saturday when location costs may be less.
• Reduce the number of guests.
• Serve buffet or hors d’oeuvres rather than a seated dinner.
• Host an alcohol-free reception or offer a cash bar.
• Have fewer attendants.
It’s often difficult to look into the future when you are just beginning your life together. However, consider the following: Suppose you spent less on the wedding, say perhaps $13,000 rather than the $27,000 projected national average.
If you invested the difference ($14,000) in the stock market and left it there until you retired – and if it were possible to earn an average of 10% a year on your investment – you’d end up with slightly more than $625,000. Would you trade the security of your later years for a fancier, more expensive wedding? A seldom-included hint for planning the perfect wedding: consult an investment professional.
Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, shop locally. The money you spend traveling to shopping destinations easily can be used toward planning the perfect, practical and budget-friendly wedding of your dreams.