Today, many women spend tens of thousands of dollars on glamorous weddings. The competition to have the “biggest and the best” on “the most important day of your life” is fierce. But you actually don’t have to spend a lot of money to have a fabulous wedding. It is simply a matter of deciding what features are important to you and how to cut the costs. You can still have everything you want and keep your wedding on a budget if you plan carefully.
It Starts With a Ring
Traditionally, a man buys a ring and suprises his girlfriend with it when he proposes.
Traditionally, the man or the couple would go to the local jeweler and look at the 100 or so rings available and make a choice.
Traditionally, a man would spend two times his monthly income on the ring.
But things aren’t so traditional anymore. In the modern world, the woman is often involved with the purchasing decision from the word go. Now, there are online diamond jewelry outlets that have tens of thousands of ring combinations and will save you a ton of money over a retail store.
At the time of this writing, Zales was offering “specials” on half carat engagement ring diamond solitaires for $1600. Blue Nile online store’s “build it yourself” ring was $1050.
You not only save money at Blue Nile, you get to design your own ring. You can select diamonds on the basis of their clarity, carat, color, and cut. You also select the setting and can incorporate things such as the bride and groom’s birthstones.
Another nice feature is that you can order the ring in the bride’s size from the outset which means there is no delay in getting a standard size ring resized.
Finally, when you start the wedding process by saving on the ring rather than spending an outlandish amount at a retail store, you set the tone for the whole wedding budget.
The next thing we need to look at is deciding on the overall wedding budget. A sensible thing to do is establish a top figure that you are willing to spend (say $10,000) and develop your budget at 80% of that (say $8,000). Weddings have a way of costing more than you planned, so plan for the unexpected from the beginning.
The bride’s father typically had two roles: write the checks and walk her down the aisle. But things have changed.
First of all, with wedding expenses what they are, many fathers are not willing to foot the bill all by themselves. Also, as couples have delayed getting married, they have some money to pay for the wedding themselves.
Early on in the wedding planning, sit down with all of the people who are going to be paying the bills and ask what their contributions can be and what they expect in return. You can involve fathers, mothers, step parents, and groom’s parents.
You can ask people to chip in a certain amount toward the overall budget or you can ask them to pay for specific things. Perhaps an aunt will pay for the wedding flowers while your step father will buy the dress. If you get commitments for specific things, the people who are helping you foot the bill will feel that they have more control over their budgets. They may also be willing to spend a little more because it is for one thing and not for a general budget.
Keep in mind that once you get financial commitments from people, they start to work them into their own budgets. If you go back and ask for more later, they may not have the money. So, try to stick with the budget you set forth at the beginning.
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It’s YOUR Wedding
The traditional wedding lament of all brides has been “It’s MY wedding,” when mothers, mothers of the bride, and other relations have tried to run the show. This lament has traditionally fallen on deaf ears.
But, if you are paying for more of the wedding yourself or if you are trying to control costs, you have more of a say in how the wedding will unfold.
For instance, if you are trying to keep costs down, the guest list will reflect the people you really want there, not your third cousin’s ex wife’s nephew (unless he really is a close friend of yours.)
You can also keep the wedding costs under control by limiting the number of attendants. Every member of your extended family does not need to be part of the wedding party. You can tell them your budget simply does not allow for this and ask them to sing in a duet or read a poem instead.
If you are planning a wedding on a budget, it also frees you to think through all of the aspects of a wedding. Is the Unity Candle ceremony important to you? If not, ditch it and save $50.
If you are planning a wedding on a budget, insist on having more control over the details. This (hopefully) once in a lifetime experience can be brought in at the cost allocated only if you don’t give in to everyone else’s wishes.
Cut the Crap
In the rest of this report, I’m going to tell you how to get the best deals on numerous parts of the wedding. But before I do that, I want to recommend that you cut the crap.
That is, what parts of the wedding or wedding gear do you NOT really need? There is an entire wedding industry that exists solely to sell you stuff. Brides often feel guilty if they don’t buy it. They think that they might miss a momento 50 years from now if they don’t buy it. But think about the number of moves you’ll make in your lifetime and the current living space you have and ask yourself whether you will actually keep all of those wedding “things.”
For instance, are matching “Bride” and “Groom” Champaign flutes really necessary? Are you going to keep them always and forever? Personalized flutes can cost $80 and up. Do you really want the thing you make a toast with taking up 1 percent of your budget?
Another thing you might want to consider is the markup on anything associated with a wedding. Unity candles can cost $100 in the special wedding section of a store. But, a $12 candle from Target could serve the purpose just as well.
Also, think about all of the clothing that gets sold with “bride” on it. Sure, you want to let the world know that you’re married, but six months from now, are you still going to want to wear sweats that say “bride”? Your identity may be wrapped around getting married right now, but later, those clothes may actually be embarrassing.
Your wedding party does not need all of the “stuff” either. Your best friend is never going to wear that “maid of honor” sweat shirt again. Don’t feel compelled to buy these trivial things that add up to big budget items.
Finally, think about what personalized “swag” is really necessary at a wedding. Do your reception guests really need matchbooks with your names on them? All of those things add to the total bottom line price, and many of them don’t add any real value to the event.