Let’s talk about the elephant in the bridal chamber: the wedding budget.
Look, I get that for some (okay, fine, several) people, your wedding day is supposed to be the happiest day of your life, and that it should be memorable, etc., etc., etc..
And perhaps it should be, because you’re supposed to be celebrating two loving people being joined together under the eyes of the law and whichever god they do/don’t worship, but let’s not pretend weddings haven’t gone from being heartfelt unions to this big, monstrous beast that makes bridezillas and groomzillas think it’s the end of the world when your wedding cake or table centerpieces are less Instagram-worthy than those of their favorite overpaid celebrity couple’s (though the latter will probably sue for divorce two or three years down the line, but I digress).
Don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with striving for the wedding of your dreams since ideally, you’ll only get one shot at it. But if you find yourself maxing out multiple credit cards and borrowing heavily from friends and family to make that happen, there’s no way your marriage is off to a good start.
So, in honor of wedding month, let’s go over a handful of practical things you can do to avoid that scenario AND still have a memorable celebration of love:
1. Figure out what you can afford – not just for your wedding, but for the life that comes next.
Now would be the time to have those honest conversations with your fiancée about what you can allocate for wedding expenses, along with where you expect to be, financially, five or ten years down the line.
Would you like to be able to move in to a bigger place? Are you planning to have a couple of kids within that period? Do you want to build a business together? How much would you need to accumulate before then to make all those things possible? Given that, how much can you afford to spend on the actual wedding?
Laying down your priorities will help keep things in perspective, and will set the right tone for yours and your partner’s efforts in saving up for both the wedding and the sort of married life you’d want together.
2. Be picky about who you put on your guest list.
Obviously, your family and closest friends are non-negotiables. Your boss and your colleagues at work might be debatable if you’re on a tight budget, but your mom’s childhood friend’s cousin who just happens to be visiting from Australia? Unless you guys are really close, you might want to give that one a hard pass.
It’s quite simple, really: the more people you invite, the more money you’ll have to spend. Haven’t decided on a figure for your wedding budget? Try attaching a monetary amount to each guest and then multiply it by how many you’ve decided to invite. If the resulting product gets your blood pressure rising, it’s time to recalibrate (i.e., cut down) your guest list.
3. Forego the DIY route.
Making your own invitations or your own giveaways might sound like a penny-pinching move, and it can work for some couples, particularly those whose livelihoods have something to do with such handicrafts.
On the other hand, if you have zero experience with creating art with your hands and aren’t the least bit artistically inclined, you’re likely to spend more time than necessary on this and you’ll probably end up just buying the stuff when things are taking too long or when you don’t get the outcome you desire.
So, if you fall into the latter camp, go canvas online instead. There are plenty of suppliers on etsy, amazon, or other online platforms for every budget.
Time is money, and the last thing you want to be on your wedding day is much too exhausted to enjoy the festivities.
Enter the short-term wedding planner. These people can be hired on the month of the wedding itself, and specialize in following up things that you’ve already set in motion, as well as making sure that you get to the finish line as smoothly as possible, so to speak. They also charge far less than conventional planners do, so you wouldn’t have to worry about going over your budget.
Don’t know where you can hire one? Think of the most organized person you trust, such as a sibling, a parent, or your best friend, and then get them onboard. It IS your special day, and so long as you don’t have Bridezilla or Groomzilla tendencies, your loved ones will only be too happy to help you enjoy the festivities to the hilt.
Some people have champagne tastes on a beer budget, and that’s fine. One way to reconcile those two things is to pick one or two things you’d like to splurge on so you can make the necessary adjustments.
For example, if you and your fiancée are big on food, you can probably nix, say, the open bar, so you can shell out on a gourmet catering service instead. Are you two big music fans who’ve always dreamed of having your favorite hometown band play at your wedding? Go for simpler centerpieces in lieu of the expensive flower arrangements at every table and see how it would increase your budget for the day’s entertainment.
Chances are, there are plenty of areas in which you can reduce spending so you can devote more of your budget to the things that both of you find really important.
Weddings are great and all, but financing them should be the last thing you and your prospective spouse end up fighting about. (You guys will have plenty of time to fight over money afterwards.)
Plus, when all is said and done, the day basically signifies the start of your life together, and wouldn’t you want to begin your married life financially equipped for what lies beyond?
About the Author
Rica is the founder and CEO of Remit.com.au, a remittance company focused on Australia to Philippines money transfer. She is a Filipina who loves writing about anything under the sun and reading hi-fiction books (dragons!), good stories, dancing, laughter, lying on the grass and eating balut.