Keep Your Wedding Expenses Down

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Wedding Expenses

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It’s wedding season again. Already, there are four wedding invitations poking out from my fridge “catch” all – the magnets are definitely working overtime to keep those important dates front and center. As it is now, the Credit Dad family will be attending these glorious events; however, if there was one invitation that required too much – either of our time or money, odds are, we’d have already sent our regrets. Need to keep your wedding expenses in check? We have your solutions.

Make Sure Invitees are Attendees

Want to be sure your invitations are advanced to the fridge of your invitees? Here are a few things to keep in mind and if you’re pondering whether or not to accept an invitation to actually be part of the wedding party, there are even a few tips for you too. Here’s a hint: as you might expect from a writer who does his best to keep folks squared with their credit cards, don’t go into debt to accommodate a demanding bride or groom. BUT – if you do agree to be in a wedding, be sure you know what you’re getting into because there are few deal breakers in friendships than those who agree to be a part of a wedding party and then canceling a month from the wedding.

69 Million Attendees?

Did you know that 69 million of us will be attending at least one wedding this season? That’s a lot of money for the industry when you think about it – from the actual wedding expenses to the gifts we’ll buy to the travel we’ll endure – the list is endless and doesn’t even take into account the honeymoon. For those of us invited, we’ll spend on average $539 – PER WEDDING. Not only that, but it’s an increase of 50% from last year. This, according to American Express, is indicative of just how important our third cousin’s wedding really is to us.

Save the Travel for the Honeymoon

Ah – and then there are those destination weddings. And really, whoever dreamed this up clearly had more money than common sense and certainly had never heard the words wedding expenses used with “keep them down”. We have a few family members who thought it would be brilliant to have some far-off land as the place on earth to exchange their wedding vows. Unfortunately, we’re a group of common sense folks – for the most part – and once it became clear that most of us wouldn’t be booking flights to Niue, they had the good sense and courtesy to rein in their exotic tendencies. Still, 25% of this year’s weddings are destination weddings. If you want guests to attend – you might want to rethink this. Despite the money we’re shelling out for each wedding, if we’re traveling, odds are, we haven’t had a vacation in awhile and the last thing we want to do with that vacation is be “on” for family and friends we could see at home.

Six Weeks, Twelve Weddings

A perfect example comes from the Amex survey. One who participated said he’s attended a whopping 12 weddings in the past 18 months and three of those included him in the wedding party. He’s fine with spending his vacation time on weddings and says he’s at that age that all of his college buddies and childhood friends are getting married; he wants to witness the incredible promise that weddings represent. Unfortunately, he’s also witnessed a whopping $10,000 increase in his credit card balance – all of it attributed to weddings – either the tuxedo rentals, gifts, travel, bachelor parties or the other expenses. That’s quite risky, especially considering the still-uncertain future for the economy.
His advice for those wanting to make the most of their dollars? Drive when possible instead of flying and crash on friends’ sofas when you can to avoid hotel costs.

Brides, Grooms – Keeping Wedding Expenses in Check

But what if you’re a bride or groom? There are ways to save on that end as well. Wedding planners have a few ways to keep your credit card from exploding. First up, despite what the etiquette says, you don’t have to have a June wedding. In fact, depending on which region of the country you live in, there are actually better times of the year, especially if it’s an outside wedding you’re aiming for. In the south, by the time June rolls around, the humidity is at 100%, the temps are easily in the 90s and there’s not a bride anywhere in the world who thinks humidity on her wedding day is a good thing. Those southern girls usually aim for a March (yes, March) or October wedding. The temps are bearable in early spring or late fall. Any other time, they risk too-hot temps or stormy weather in the winter. In other words – don’t get too focused on the month of June. You’ll also get better deals on your photographer, caterer and baker.

Also, our wedding planners told us that the time of day determines a lot in terms of how much you’ll pay for a reception hall. Saturday night at 7 pm is the most sought after time – and the most expensive.

Another way to keep your credit card balances low is to skip the exorbitant wedding cakes. Choose simple, elegant and adequate (in terms of having enough for all of your guests). You may even wish to forego the groom’s cake, which, frankly, is a bit dated anyway.
Also, choose less expensive flowers. The bride’s bouquet should be front and center, so your centerpieces and bridesmaids flowers could be less extravagant. Consider using your credit card rewards points for booking your honeymoon.

Go Green

Finally, think eco friendly. While skipping traditional wedding invitations is something most brides aren’t willing to consider, you can bypass the liners and enclosure cards. A small, one page cardstock invitation serves its purpose, is still elegant and saves trees, too. Does your sister have a striking handwriting? Bypass the printers and engage that beautiful handwriting of hers to address your invitations. You can easily knock about 10 percent off your wedding budget with that one compromise.

Finally – and perhaps the one your bride is going to be most resistant with – consider sample sales as a source for finding her dream gown. Just because it’s on sale doesn’t take away from its magic. It does, however, add to the magic of emerging from the wedding with less credit card debt.

Have your own ideas for cutting costs? Share them with us.

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About Author

David is a CPA and has spent the past decade as a financial adviser helping clients meet their fiscal objectives. With an appreciation for journalism, he has spent the past few years overseeing several financial columns as well as writing two previous finance blogs. He resides on the East Coast with his wife and two sons and has guided many through the recent recession while providing a no-nonsense approach to spending and saving.


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