Getting married is a big commitment, emotionally and financially. Wedding expenses in Pa. average $23,025, which can be a big hit to the newlyweds after they return from the honeymoon.
Establishing a budget, sticking to it, and avoiding unexpected charges will therefore help make the day as wonderful as imagined, both long- and short-term.
This can be a sticky topic, but one that needs to be discussed. Tradition is still the norm for most weddings, according to a survey from The Knot.
On average, the bride’s parents contribute 44 percent; the bride and groom contribute 42 percent; and the groom’s parents contribute 13 percent toward wedding costs.
If family members are contributing, get an accurate accounting to help plan. Alternatively, offer to have them contribute to a specific portion of the day — like handling the flowers or catering, for example — to involve them closely in accessing that vendor or service.
The Guest List
The guest list is the single biggest factor in how much wedding expenses will rise or fall.
Venues usually charge by the head, especially in providing food and beverages. If a caterer is providing the meal, the location can utilize a flat fee, usually based on the number of attendees. The caterer will then be the vendor charging by the head or in groups of people.
A $100-per-person meal can affect a wedding by $1,000 to invited 10 “extra” people. Streamlining the guest list to help avoid unexpected charges.
The size of a wedding party is a consideration, too.
More bridesmaids and groomsmen mean more transportation and gift costs. As groups of friends tend to get engaged and married around the same time, a close friend who is in three other weddings that same year may not mind coming as a guest.
It’s a detail worthy of discussion among the couple and families.
The reception is likely a wedding’s largest expense; therefore, establishing a budget early in the process will bring affordable venues into focus. With that in place, costs for additional vendors can be considered.
Martha Stewart has broken down wedding component charges by percentage of total budget:
- Reception (food, beverages, rentals, and site): 40–50 percent
- Flowers: 10 percent
- Photography/videography: 10 percent
- Bride’s and groom’s attire: 5–10 percent
- Band or DJ: 5–10 percent
- Wedding planner: 10–15 percent
- Miscellaneous (favors, transportation, etc.): 10 percent
- Cushion for extras: 5–10 percent
Staying within a wedding budget — even on the smallest of outlays — can sidestep overspending.
A few financial strategies can help as well:
- Savings account or open CDs. These savings vehicles earn interest and may help to keep budgeted funds separate from the daily-use checking account
- Rewards cards. Credit card reward programs can provide perks usable for the honeymoon (plane tickets, hotel rooms). The key, however, is to pay off these cards at the end of each month
- Frugality. Cutting monthly expenses before the wedding (Uber rides, DoorDash deliveries, streaming subscriptions) can also bulk up savings.
Watch the Extras
Despite the level of pre-wedding planning, things often go awry. It’s important to calculator buffers into a wedding budget for these surprises.
Unexpected hits to wedding finances include everything from the postage on the invitations to taxes, gratuities, and overtime compensation for service providers. Vendor estimates of total, contracted fees is a good guardian against these unexpected hits.
There are some great ways to save on wedding expenses, and still have a happily ever after:
- Pick a non-Saturday matrimony date. Weddings are commonly held on Saturdays; therefore, choosing a Friday or Sunday can represent significant savings.
- Buy seasonally. Having a fall wedding? Shop for discounted décor throughout the winter when those items go on sale.
- Cut the cake. Wedding cakes can cost several hundreds of dollars. Consider fun, less expensive alternatives such as mini pies, a milk and cookie bar, or decorative cupcakes.
- Rent the dress. Websites like Rent the Runway and Borrowing Magnolia offer more affordable ways to dress the part, without spending blasting the budget. In addition, several sizes can be ordered to ensure a perfect fit.
- Ditch the flowers. Floral arrangements are expensive, mostly due to the labor associated with them. Consider simpler table accessories like candles, faux flowers, candy jars, or even arrangements plucked from the family garden.
- Go digital on invitations. Save big on printing and mailing costs and support the environment by using services like Paperless Post or Greenvelope. It’s not only cheaper, it’s environmentally friendly (all RSVP tracking is digital).
- Close the book on the traditional wedding album. Wedding albums are expensive and outdated. Go digital.
- Provide a DIY photo booth. Photo booths are popular but pricey. A homemade version — crafted with props and a simple backdrop — can be just as fun, employing guests’ own cellphone cameras and an event-specific hashtag.
C&N Bank supports customers through all of life’s big moments.
Its financial advisors can help engaged couples have a spectacular ceremony without massive debt overshadowing the first years of marriage. More information on the services C&N provides is available on its website.