You’re engaged! Congratulations! Perhaps your fiancé popped the question over the holidays or a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner. By now, you may be turning your attention from the excitement of the proposal to planning for your wedding day.
The average cost of weddings in the U.S. in 2019 was $33,900. That’s a pretty penny for the cake, invitations, reception, and photography, even if you’re paying for one of the most memorable days in your life. Some couples have smaller budget events in mind, particularly those planning to marry in 2021 while COVID-19 is still limiting gathering sizes and travel. Whether you have an elopement planned for this year or a big-budget affair booked for 2022, most couples need to save for the occasion. Here are four easy steps to start saving for your wedding.
1. Set a Wedding Budget
To set your savings goals, you’ll need to know how much you need to save for your wedding. Start by setting your wedding budget. Some couples have dreamed of big-budget weddings for years, while others want an intimate backyard gathering. Don’t succumb to pressure to plan an event like the ones you see on wedding TV shows or in the pages of glossy magazines. Plan your day based on your priorities. For example, you might want a live band because you love music. Other couples might go with a DJ or even a pre-planned playlist instead. Prioritize what’s important to you and spend your money there. Regardless of your initial budget, most couples end up spending more than they originally anticipated. It’s wise to build a cushion into your budget to help with unanticipated costs.
2. Set up a Wedding Savings Account
With your wedding on the horizon, set up a wedding savings account to earmark funds. By putting your wedding savings in a separate account you’ll easily be able to see how much you’re accumulating. You’ll also likely stop yourself from accidentally using your wedding savings on something unrelated.
This digital envelope method—in other words, creating separate accounts to keep funds for different goals—may be useful in other areas, too. Some savvy savers have funds for travel, like a honeymoon fund, or a down payment for a dream home, like the one you and your new spouse may be hoping to buy as a couple.
3. Cut Back on Monthly Expenses
Once you have set your wedding budget, divide that number by the months you have to save to find your savings goal. For example, if you’re planning a $12,000 wedding a year from now, you’ll need to put aside $1,000 a month. Where is that extra money going to come from? It’s most likely going to be siphoned from your monthly spending.
There are several quick ways to cut back. Everyone has a “latte” factor. That’s budget talk for: unnecessary spending. For you, it might be a pack of cigarettes, a magazine, or lunches out. These are areas outside of your essential needs (e.g., food, shelter, etc.) that could be eliminated or cut back.
You should also take a hard look at monthly expenses you may not need—or even ones you’ve forgotten about. Are you spending $5 a month on an app subscription for a service you aren’t using? Cut it! That $5 will add up over time. You can also consider cutting back on cell phone data plans, cable TV plans, and other add-ons that are not as important in the short term as saving for your wedding.
If you’re planning realistically, this exercise may alter your wedding budget. For example, if you need to save $1,000 a month for your dream wedding, but can only find $500 to cut, you may need to update your end goal.
4. Use your Credit Sparingly
As you’re planning for your wedding, you may need to use credit cards. They can come in handy for placing a deposit on your venue or paying your photographer a portion of the fee upfront. Credit cards can help protect you from fraud and the best ones earn rewards, like cash back. So, there are advantages to using them. However, you should plan to do so responsibly and avoid accumulating debt. You needn’t worry as long as you’re paying off your cards in full in a timely manner.
The bottom line is: You shouldn’t spend more than you can afford on your wedding. However, with proper planning and saving, you can make your wedding wonderful—at any budget.