Every time I think about budgeting and spending money on wedding related things, I hear this song playing in my head
“It’s not about the money, money, money…we just wanna make the world dance, forget about the price tag.”
If only, right?
All the wedding books, blogs, timelines and diagrams tell you to set your budget first. Which makes sense, because weddings can range anywhere from $1000-100,000 and beyond, so it’s better to decide how much you can spend and then arrange your wedding plans to fit the budget.
The problem with this approach is that if, like me, you have no idea how much weddings actually run in your area, you can end up with an idea of the type of wedding you want and a budget that doesn’t accommodate it.
To decide on a potential budget, I looked into how much the average wedding costs in our area. The average was $16,384 to $27,306 and we planned to cut costs where we could, so I estimated that $10-15,000 would be plenty. What I didn’t realize was that this number was for 140 to 160 guests. Our guest list is more than double that, so we’ve definitely run into a bit of sticker shock at times.
We are both college students with little savings and not much income, so we knew that we couldn’t afford the kind of wedding we wanted on our own. I’m the oldest of a large family and we have never had much money, so I wasn’t expecting a large financial contribution from my family, though I fully expected my mom and sisters to contribute their time willingly to my crafting endeavors. This meant that our budget would be dependent on how much we were willing to go into debt and how much the Future-In-Laws were able to contribute.
After a few slightly awkward conversations,
we decided on a $15,000 budget where FI’s parents would contribute a portion and we would pay it back after graduating and finding full-time jobs.
I know every bit of wedding advice says not to go into debt for your wedding, it’s only one day, you’ll regret it later, wait until you can afford the wedding you want, etc. and I’m sure a lot of people would think that we’re not being responsible. My response to that is that yes, it is only one day, but it is a day that we have been waiting a very long time for and a day that means more to us than just a party. Having the wedding we can afford now would mean not inviting a lot of people that we really want to be involved. We could have waited a year or two after college and saved up while working, but since we don’t believe in cohabitating, that would mean paying twice as much in rent and utilities and been about the same as if we got married now and then worked for a year to pay it off. Besides that, we really don’t want to wait any longer than we already have.
Having his parents loan us the money makes it easier because we don’t have to worry about interest or making payments on time. We’ll be responsible, but there’s less pressure than if we were paying for it with credit cards.
We fully intend to come as close to our budgeted numbers as possible, but with a guest list hovering between 350-360people, sometimes it’s just impossible to cut any more costs without settling on things that are really important to us. We’re saving a lot in some areas, going over in others, and all around complaining about how crazy expensive everything wedding related is.
How did you tackle the money side of your wedding?