You're engaged and ready to start planning for the big day! The process is fun, but stress can easily creep in when trying to figure out how to pay for it (the average cost of a wedding is upwards of $30,000). Avoid feeling overwhelmed (and going into debt) with this roadmap for bringing your vision to life without compromising your financial health.
Prioritize your needs.
As a couple, work together to decide what are the needs and wants for the wedding. Then prioritize them. For some that might mean food and entertainment, for others it could be venue and decor. Consider your long-term goals as well. Do you want to own a home? Travel? Factor those items in when deciding how much to spend on your wedding says Jason Field, CPA at Anderson Tax (who is getting married later this year).
Set a budget.
Once you've figured out short and long-term goals, set a realistic budget and stick to it, says Kris Yamano, Vice President and Regional Leader of Wealth Planning for BMO Private Bank. How much should be saved depends on the anticipated cost of the wedding. Be realistic. A $30,000 wedding requires a monthly savings of $2,500 for 12 months. Extend your engagement to give yourself enough time to save and/or tighten the money belt to reach your goal.
Start saving early.
As soon as a budget is set, begin saving. The earlier a couple starts socking away for the big day, the better. Kris recommends using an online savings calculator to determine how much is needed in order to reach the target amount.
Open a wedding fund account.
Keep the money you're saving for the wedding in an account that's separate from your regular checking and savings, suggests Kris. This will help to better track milestones and eliminate the sensation to splurge when the dollar amount starts going up.
Use credit wisely.
It's alright to put wedding items on a credit card in order to rack up points, and take advantage of the consumer protection against fraud says Kris. However, in order for a credit card to work in your favor, it is necessary to pay the balance off immediately. Avoid carrying a balance. If you're unable to pay for the charge within the billing cycle, that is a clear indicator that you're going over budget.
Don't forget, the most important part of a wedding is celebrating the love between two people -- not how much, or little money is spent. Couples should dole out whatever makes them comfortable, while also remembering going into debt to finance a wedding isn't worth it.
Style Me Pretty Contributor - Ximena N. Larkin is a writer and publicist who resides in Chicago with her husband and dog.