Here comes the…bill. Here comes the bill. The average wedding will run you just shy of $28,500 these days, so it’s understandable if the poor soul who gets stuck with the tab finds him or herself singing the wrong tune as the ceremony gets under way. But is it avoidable? That’s the real question.
In other words, at a time characterized by a lack of financial literacy, trillions of dollars in consumer debt, and a fetishism of reality TV that has somehow made being a “bridezilla” seem like the norm, is there any way to throw a dream wedding without spending as much in a single day as you would when buying a pretty decent car or putting a down payment on a house?
There is indeed. And that’s important to note up front because the following numbers will probably give those of you who are currently planning nuptials a bit of a scare.
- The average wedding dress costs $1,444 (including a headpiece and dress accessories)
- The average engagement ring is $3,239 and wedding bands are $1,186
- A full-service wedding planner charges about $3,448
- The average reception costs about $12,759
- Vendors are known to tack a 20-25% wedding markup onto their standard prices in order to take advantage of expectations driven by reality TV
- 59% of brides use Facebook and/or blogs to get wedding planning ideas, and 46% use Pintrest
(Statistics courtesy of The Wedding Report, David’s Bridal, and MarketWatch)
It’s therefore no real surprise that the business of weddings has been doing quite well lately. This $50.6 billion industry is also expected to see 2.3% growth through 2018, according to the research group IBIS World, which projects that profit increases will be especially pronounced for photographers, limo services, caterers, florists, bridal stores, and purveyors of lingerie and swimwear (anybody missing?).
But enough with all the projections and statistics. Cue the wedding planners. Really.
We consulted a panel of industry professionals who now teach the art of wedding planning collegiately (yes, many colleges offer wedding/event planning courses – often as part of an overall major in business). We asked them about what will be hot this season and into the future as well as how couples and whatever benefactors they might have can pull off a dream wedding all the while saving along the way. The floor is theirs.
What Tips Do You Have for Couples Looking to Plan a Wedding on a Budget?
“Reduce their number of guests. If that's not an option, they should consider a Friday or Sunday wedding. Or, an early Saturday wedding, then they don't have to provide a full meal.”
Ask the Experts
From trimming your guest list and scheduling the big day on either a Friday or a Sunday instead of the traditional Saturday – which is both more popular and more expensive – to offering appetizers as well as a select list of drinks rather than a full meal and open bar, the wedding industry professionals we consulted were able to provide a variety of great savings ideas. But now it’s our turn. Because while they know event planning, we know personal finance, and there are certain steps you can take to reduce your matrimonial financial burden even more.
- Leverage a 0% Credit Card: You can now find credit cards that will not charge you interest for up to a year and a half. Using one of these cards to make the majority of your wedding-related purchases or transferring what you owe to one after the fact will enable you to pay for the event over time without seeing finance charges augment your ultimate expenditure. Just make sure to devise a realistic debt payoff plan using a credit card calculator because the high regular interest rates that take effect at the end of the 0% term will quickly negate your savings if a large balance remains at that time.
- Take Advantage of an Initial Rewards Bonus: Credit card companies have also taken to offering lucrative rewards bonuses to new cardholders who spend a certain amount within the first few months their accounts are open. Since you can score $500+ in free flights, hotel nights, and statement credits with this strategy, it’s a great way to pad your wedding budget or even get a head start on that honeymoon.
- Use a Gift Card Registry: A gift card registry enables you to create a list of your favorite stores, share said list with guests via Facebook or e-mail, and ultimately receive better gifts. You won’t have to worry about receiving duplicate items since you’re picking stores rather than specific goods, and you can also pool your gift cards to cover the kinds of big-ticket items that newlyweds need but would be rude to ask for (e.g. a refrigerator, bed, or sofa). Plus, it will be easy for guests to buy at a discount through an online gift card exchange and therefore give you a more valuable gift than they would otherwise be able to.
Keep these things in mind as we enter wedding season 2013 and both you and your wallet will be signing the right tune when all is said and done. Now let the planning commence!
Image: David Pruter/Shutterstock