The first few months of 2018 are all about fulfilling New Year’s resolutions, getting ready for the year ahead... and wedding planning. That’s right! If yours is among those one in three engagements occurring between Thanksgiving and the New Year, now is a smart time to kick off your plan, since it can take months to nail down the perfect wedding venue, dress or suit, band or DJ and any number of other items on your to-do list.
Some of the tricky aspects of wedding planning remain the same as in past years — from planning the guest list to creating a registry. But you might be one of the growing ranks of couples today more interested in the emotional experience of their wedding than the opulence. Personal touches, like giving away hand-crocheted hats as wedding favors — as one Florida bride did — could be a meaningful way to connect with guests, without breaking the bank.
Whether you choose a more personalized wedding or a more traditional one, there are always ways to save money. After all, no one wants to start a new life together broke from the wedding. With that in mind, here are five ways to keep your budget under control, while making the nuptials memorable for all.
Start with a simple dollar limit — and decide who will pay what Before you make a single purchase, calculate your overall budget. The average wedding costs a whopping $35,000, according to the Knot’s 2016 Real Wedding Study. And in places like New York City, the average tab can go to nearly $80,000.
Then again, raw averages can sometimes be misleadingly high — and other figures suggest most people actually spend less than $10,000: So don’t feel pressured to spend beyond your means. Choose a number that doesn’t cause you pain: Then get ready to stick to it.
“Approximately 47% of the couples in our 2016 study said they went over budget,” the Knot’s deputy editor Lauren Kay said in a phone interview. “This can be easy to do if you are at the florist going through your choices and suddenly you see a gorgeous new flower that only adds $1 more per setting.” While that extra buck sounds like a minimal expense, that can snowball and derail your budget.
The best way to prevent this is loads of planning ahead of time: Know that biggest expenses tend to be the venue, engagement ring and food and drinks for your guests; but a band, flowers and photographer can also run to more than a $1,000 a pop. Here’s a typical cost breakdown, per the Knot:
Weddings don’t come cheap. Here’s a breakdown of average expenses for the priciest items. The Knot /Pinterest
Once you’ve tallied up all your fixed expenses, dedicate about 5% of your budget to “hidden” or “unknown” expenses such as tipping the band, meals for vendors or maybe extra beauty treatments. The Knot has a wedding planning app that allows you to enter both estimated and actual costs.
What about who will pay? Many people count on parents or guardians to help foot the bill: Only about 10% of couples paid entirely for their wedding in 2016. At least among straight couples, the bride’s parents typically contribute about 44% to the budget, followed by the couple with 42% and the groom’s parents kicking in 13%, according to data from the Knot. But there are no “rules” and you can figure out what makes sense based on your own family situation.