Cut the Cake and Your Wedding Expenses
- Money Management
Getting married is a big commitment – emotionally and financially. Knowing your budget, and sticking to it, and avoiding unexpected charges will help make the day as wonderful as you imagined. With the average cost of a wedding in Pennsylvania averaging $23,025, it’s important to find ways to cut down your wedding expenses while having your cake (and eating it too).
Who’s Paying for Your Wedding?
This can be a sticky topic, but one that needs to be discussed. Tradition is still the norm for most weddings, according to The Knot’s 2016 Real Wedding survey. On average, the bride’s parents contribute 44%, the bride & groom contribute 42%, and the groom’s parents contribute 13% toward wedding expenses.
If family members are contributing, get an accurate accounting to help you plan. Alternatively, asking them to contribute to a specific portion of the day, flowers or catering, for example, will allow them to get involved shopping for that vendor or service.
Who’s On Your Wedding Guest List?
Your guest list is the single biggest factor in how much your wedding expenses will rise or fall. Venues usually charge by the head, especially if they are providing food and beverages. A location can utilize a flat fee, up to a certain amount of people, if you are bringing in an outside caterer. The caterer will charge you by the head or in groups of people. A $100-per-person meal can affect a wedding by $1,000 if you invite an extra 10 people. Streamline your guest list to help you avoid unexpected charges.
Consider the size of your wedding party, too. More bridesmaids and groomsmen mean more transportation and gift costs. As groups of friends tend to get engaged and married around the same time, your close friend who is in three other weddings that same year may not mind coming as a guest. Have an open conversation about this with your partner and family.
Stick to Your Wedding Budget
The reception is likely your largest expense, so make a wedding budget so you can narrow your list of locations within your price range. Once you find the right venue, you can see how much is in the budget for your other vendors.
Here’s a sample wedding budget breakdown from Martha Stewart:
- Reception (food, beverages, rentals, and site): 40% - 50%
- Flowers: 10%
- Photography/videography: 10%
- Bride’s and groom’s attire: 5%-10%
- Band or DJ: 5% -10%
- Wedding planner: 10% - 15%
- Miscellaneous (favors, transportation, etc.): 10%
- Cushion for “extras”: 5 - 10%
Save Up for Your Big Day
Staying within your budget range for every item is key to help prevent you from spending more than you can afford. A few financial tools can help, as well.
- Open a Savings account or open CDs with C&N to save up for your wedding. These savings vehicles earn interest and may help to keep your money separate from your daily Checking account.
- Consider rewards cards. If you charge some of the larger wedding-related purchases and get perks such as airplane miles or hotel rooms, those could help with your honeymoon expenses. Make sure you pay off each card from your wedding fund at the end of each month.
- Be frugal in the months leading up to the big day. If you can cut out unnecessary expenses, you can bulk up your savings and spend less time paying bills after the wedding.
- If you need any other information or want to speak with one of our financial planners, feel free to stop by or contact us.
Watch the Extras
As much as you try to plan everything for the big day, unexpected costs pop up. It’s important to calculator these buffers into your budget for these surprises, which can include invitation postage, taxes and gratuities, and any overtime fees from your service providers. Be sure to have your vendors estimate their total fees in your contracts before you sign.
Cutting Your Expenses
There are some great ways to save on wedding expenses, and still have your happily ever after. Consider these wedding planning tips:
- Have your wedding on a day other than Saturday. Weddings are commonly held on Saturdays. However, if you are able to book your special day on a Friday or a Sunday, you’ll be able to save yourself a few hundred or even thousand dollars.
- Consider seasonal buys. Watch for big sales and snag items like dresses and décor for less. Having a fall wedding in a year’s time? Shop for discounted fall décor throughout the winter when those items go on sale.
- Cut the cake. Wedding cakes can cost several hundreds of dollars. Consider fun, less expensive alternatives such as mini pies, a milk and cookie bar or decorative cupcakes.
- Rent the dress. Websites like Rent the Runway and Borrowing Magnolia offer more affordable ways to dress the part, without spending your whole budget. Plus, you can order several sizes to ensure the perfect fit.
- Ditch the flowers. Floral arrangements are expensive, mostly due to the labor that you are paying for. Consider cheaper centerpieces like candles, faux flowers or even candy in jars! Or if you’re feeling creative, cut a few flowers from your own garden (if you have one) and use those as a bouquet or as centerpieces.
- Go digital. Save big on printing and mailing costs and support the environment by using services like Paperless Post or Greenvelope. Plus, all the RSVP tracking will be done digitally.
- Wedding album. Wedding albums are expensive, and a little outdated. Save your money and ask for the digital versions of your event photos instead. That way, guests can scroll through the album and reminisce on the night no matter where they are.
- DIY photo booth. Photo booths are popular addition to any celebration, but they can also be pricey. Instead, put up a simple backdrop that you can find at a local PA or NY craft supply store, buy a few festive props and guests can use their own cameras to take photos and post on social media with your wedding hashtag.