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Saving for a Wedding to Remember

By Chris Morris

  • PUBLISHED August 08
  • |
  • 4 MINUTE READ

The question has been popped. The ring is on the finger. And the date has been set. Now you just have to figure out how to pay for your wedding.

The average wedding ceremony and celebration cost $33,391 in 2017, according to a recent survey. That’s lower than the price was the year before, but it’s still a major expense. And if you’ll be shouldering a bigger portion of that amount than you expected, or you haven’t given much thought to how to pay for a wedding, then it calls for some serious crunch saving.

Here’s how to save wisely and make sure you have enough for your special day, without adding even more stress to the weeks and months leading up to it.

Establish a separate savings account. Commingling your wedding funds with the money you use to pay bills is a bad idea. It’s hard to keep track of where you stand in your savings goals—and too easy to spend money that’s earmarked for the wedding dress, the wedding invitations or the wedding cake. High yield savings accounts and money market accounts can be great choices for your wedding savings.

Ignore bridal magazines. Wedding magazines and the wedding industry will tell you that all sorts of things are essential for your wedding to be the stuff of fairy tales. Truth is: That’s just marketing. Weddings don’t have to be weekend-long affairs. Day-after brunches and organized pre-wedding wine tastings might sound good in theory, but you’ll be increasing your total spend by hundreds, even thousands, of dollars.

Take “something borrowed” literally. Traditionally, “something borrowed” is a small token the bride carries with her down the aisle. But by expanding the definition, you can cut your costs substantially. Have a friend who works for a limo service? See if they can do some off-the-clock work. Want to avoid the inflated cost of a wedding DJ? A friend with an extensive digital music catalog and some basic DJ skills can help out to keep your wedding budget within bounds. And if you know someone who owns an especially gorgeous piece of land, why not have the wedding reception there instead of renting a space? Maybe you have a talented cousin whose passion is taking pictures—why not tap her for wedding photography?

Think different for the dinner. The rehearsal dinner can be the worst part of a wedding. Cramped quarters, so-so food and assigned seating arrangements often mean that no one has a truly good time. Instead, consider hosting an event with local flair that is open to your guests. One couple rented a pavilion from the county at a nearby beach, hired a local BBQ joint to cater the affair, and bought beer and wine from the liquor store. They not only cut their expenses in half, but ensured that all out-of-town guests got a taste of the city and were able to meet one another before the reception.

Consider nontraditional wedding-party gifts. There’s no need to buy your bridesmaids and groomsmen expensive presents. These are people close to you, so focus on something personal. One good idea is a photo album filled with shots of the two of you—with room for many more.

Whatever your wedding budget, a little creative planning and a focus on what’s meaningful to you can make your wedding day special without resorting to a personal loan or maxing out your credit cards. Remember, it’s the memory of your love and commitment to each other that should last for years—not debt from your big day.

Chris Morris regularly contributes to national outlets including Fortune, CNBC.com, Voice of America, Variety and Common Sense Media, as well as to dozens of other major publications.

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