by Dana George | Updated July 17, 2021 - First published on Aug. 4, 2019
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This simple decision can help you start your marriage off happy and stress-free.
For a couple dreaming of the perfect wedding, avoiding financial strain can be a challenge. Gone are the days when a bride's family would automatically pay for the happy event. Today, couples are expected to at least cover part of the costs. The Knot reports that 10% of couples shoulder the entire financial burden, and the average cost of a wedding in the U.S. is now around $29,200. That can be a major burden for the groom- and bride-to-be.
And here's where things get tricky. The average unmarried American carries about $40,000 in debt, according to Debt.com. Further, a study by Fidelity revealed that 40% of couples who carry debt say it has had a negative impact on their relationship. Adding more debt by financing wedding expenses only increases the strain.
Whether you live in Montana or Manhattan, there are ways to get married without going into the red.
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Decide on the maximum amount you can afford and build your wedding around it. Your budget will depend upon three sources of money:
Err on the side of caution. If your great-uncle Henry has promised you $10,000 on your wedding day, don't count on receiving that money. Dear old Henry could pass away before the big day or lose that money at the track. Count only on funds you are certain will be available.
Setting a budget means you'll have to call more vendors than you hoped. It may mean cutting back on features you once considered essential. However, while it might be more fun to spend with wild abandon, sticking to a realistic budget will pay dividends after the wedding.
The cost of a full-service wedding planner varies based on where your wedding is to be held. While high-end wedding planners can charge from $5,000 to $10,000, the national average spent on a wedding planner is much lower -- around $1,500, according to WeddingWire. That's because most planners offer a menu of services that allow you to tailor your budget to what you need.
You can hire a partial wedding planner to help with last-minute tasks, like confirming vendors and assisting with the seating chart, for a national average cost of $1,250. Some wedding planners will work with you on an hourly basis. These consultations generally run between $75 and $135 per hour, and offer professional guidance so you can do it yourself.
When you work with a wedding planner, get everything in writing so there's no confusion as to the services you expect to receive.
It's natural to want to share your joy with everyone you know, but it's also expensive. These steps will help you take the emotion out of trimming the guest list.
There's no single reason why couples choose to have a large wedding party. Maybe one or both of them are people pleasers and don't want anyone to feel left out. Perhaps they believe that the larger the party, the more help they'll have, or that a large number of attendants will make their wedding look grand.
The truth is, your wedding party may be helpful, but no one will undergo a change in personality. If your best friend is perpetually late, or if your fiancé's cousin rarely fulfills a promise, that won't change simply because they're in your wedding party.
If you hope that a large wedding party will make your event more memorable, consider what happens if a bridesmaid's dress won't zip right before the ceremony, or a groomsman gets fall-down drunk at the reception. That large party might be memorable for all the wrong reasons.
Finally, if you're a people pleaser and can't bear to make anyone angry, we have good news for you: The "no wedding party" trend is picking up speed. Opt for simplicity by standing alone in front of the officiant, or ask one special person to be at your side. Not only will you save a boatload of money, but you'll have more energy to focus on your fiance.
A great DJ does more than spin records. They'll help you come up with a playlist, introduce your wedding party, provide a wireless microphone for toasts, make announcements, introduce special dances, and time the reception so that the final song plays at just the right moment. A DJ also costs up to 75% less than a live band.
The part of your wedding most people look forward to is the reception. Why not hold a small, private ceremony followed by a fabulous reception? Or travel to your honeymoon location and get married while there. Once you're home, invite friends to help celebrate your nuptials.
If you do decide to go into debt to get married, remember this: If you put $20,000 on a credit card charging 16% interest, and pay only the minimum payment, it will take 41 years, 5 months to pay the debt off. If you take out a personal loan at 8%, your monthly payment will be $406 each month for five years.
And finally, consider the findings of a 2014 study. After surveying more than 3,000 couples, two Emory University professors found that the less a couple spent on their engagement ring and wedding, the longer they were likely to remain married.
Many people are missing out on guaranteed returns as their money languishes in a big bank savings account earning next to no interest. The Ascent's picks of the best online savings accounts can earn you more than 8x the national average savings account rate.
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