According to a survey conducted by wedding gurus at The Knot, the average price of a wedding in 2016 was $35,329. While that’s sinking in, don’t forget that the number is just an average; some spend less, but some also spend more
Obviously there’s no hard-and-fast rule about how much a wedding costs; the variables are just too numerous. But you can engage in a thoughtful process that will point you in the direction of getting the most value for your buck, however many of them you want to spend.
It’s just as easy to turn a 50-person affair into a surprisingly pricey endeavor that costs nearly as much as the 150-person wedding you thought you couldn’t afford.
BE UPFRONT ABOUT YOUR MONEY EARLY ON
Nothing says romance like relaying the story of your romantic proposal then pivoting to ask your parents how much they are thinking of spending on your wedding. Yes, it’s an awkward conversation to have, but if your family is going to be helping out, it’s critical to know exactly what that means before planning. If narrowing down a specific dollar amount proves difficult, steer the conversation toward something specific they’d feel comfortable committing to, like the venue or catering. This way you’ll at least be able to conceptualize your other needs and budget accordingly.
Before doing the research, it’s easy to assume that big wedding equals big budget. It’s just as easy to turn a 50-person affair into a surprisingly pricey endeavor that costs nearly as much as the 150-person wedding you thought you couldn’t afford. Once you have your ballpark budget number, play with different size and space scenarios that let you think through a variety of options. Do you want to splurge but keep it small and intimate? If inviting a big crowd is more important and the spaces are cost-prohibitive, look into venues that are more casual and allow you to do money-saving things like creating your own playlist to avoid hiring a DJ. The most important part is getting the wedding you and your mate really want, then backtracking from the concept to make the money work.
USE A BUDGET CALCULATOR
Wedding planners can take the headache out of a lot of the planning, but they cost money, so consider using an online budget calculator. You’ll be able to break down all the obvious wedding costs (hair/makeup, venue, dress, catering, etc.) and they’re also handy in highlighting expenses you didn’t think of, like a cake-cutting fee. Many calculators also allow you to enter the date payments are due; it’s nice to have a computer remember these things for you so you can spend more time thinking about the fun stuff.
SAVE WHERE YOU CAN
Speaking of payments, most vendors are accustomed to accepting credit cards, and if you have a card that accrues loyalty points, paying this way can be attractive. But if you have the cash on hand, ask the vendor if there’s a price break for paying in cash, instead. Many offer a discount equal or greater to the credit card fees they’d incur, so it’s worth the time to compare what perks you might get from a credit card versus the discount afforded by forking over the cash upfront.
AVOID EXTRA COSTS
If you’re flexible on timing, a really easy place to avoid spending more than necessary has to do with your timing. High season means you’ll pay a premium on just about every aspect of your wedding — the venue, catering and even your honeymoon. Avoid summer dates and holidays. Make sure you track when payments are due to avoid late fees, and remember: No matter how much fun you’re having at the reception, the DJ or band is going to send you a bill for those extra 45 minutes.