A girl’s wedding day is the most anticipated day of her life. From finding the perfect dress, to dancing the night away with her husband, to sharing beautiful moments with her closest friends and family- every girl dreams about the magic of this special day. Bridal magazines, wedding planners, Pinterest- these sources offer beautiful spreads of weddings fit for celebrities. But, how can a girl achieve her dream wedding on a budget? Or even more daunting- if she and her future hubby are paying for it?
In today’s day and age, it’s becoming more and more common for engaged couples to foot the bill for their own weddings. My husband and I were one of these couples. We had some help from our parents (THANK YOU mom & my wonderful in-laws!), but we knew that ultimately the bill would be coming out of our pockets. We had a huge decision to make- plan the big day of our dreams, and take a huge hit to our savings… or elope and keep it simple?
If it were up to Marcus, we would have eloped in a heartbeat. But, bless his heart, he gave in to the whimsical dreams of his future wife- and he agreed that we could have our dream day, even despite the significant financial loss (Yes- I know I’m the luckiest girl in the world). What we never expected was to ultimately gain from the experience of paying for our own wedding. Crazy, right? Throughout this daunting process, we were able to come together as a couple to learn life lessons that most married couples spend their entire lives struggling with. So- if you are in our boat, and will be paying for your own wedding- don’t stress. You might be surprised to discover that in this endeavor, you are setting yourselves up for a marriage of enhanced communication, the ability to compromise, and encouragement.
Here are some tips and pointers to help you get started in planning and paying for your own wedding. I promise you can and will make it out of this alive. 🙂
- Combine your finances as soon as possible. This is the first step in achieving the goal of saving enough for your big day- it enables you to combine your paychecks, hold each other accountable for sticking to your budget (we’ll cover this next), and practice for how you will handle your money throughout your marriage. Marcus and I combined our accounts the week after we became engaged, because we knew there was no way we could achieve our financial goals without taking this step. It was as simple as visiting our local bank, deactivating our old accounts, and starting a Checking, Savings, and Goal Setter account together. I cannot emphasize how helpful this was in preparing for our marriage. Being on the same page financially is something that couples grapple with their entire lives. Multiple studies have shown that the leading cause of divorce and marital issues is money. If you and your future spouse start working on this throughout your engagement, you will be PROS by the time you are married! It’s a win-win situation.
- Map out a detailed budget and stick to it. My husband is a biomedical, mechanical engineer. Aka. a Type A, mathematical wizard. As soon as we got engaged, we realized we needed to determine how much we could spend on this wedding without surviving on Ramen noodles for the next few years. Marcus created an Excel spreadsheet, utilizing both our monthly incomes, current expenses, and future wedding expenses (if you or your husband are not mathematical wizards, no need to worry. There are thousands of budget tracking templates online- try mint.com, or the Dave Ramsey “Zero-Based budget.”). We realized that the way we were currently living would not support the budget for our dream wedding. This is where the next step comes in.
- Make sacrifices and change your spending habits. I’m not mathematician (that’s my husband’s job, remember?) but I know one thing: you cannot increase the amount you are saving unless you decrease the amount you are spending. Pretty simple concept, right? Not very simple to implement. It’s very important that you discuss your priorities with your future spouse to determine how to change your spending habits prior to your wedding. For example, once Marcus and I had combined our accounts, what we were spending our money on was very transparent. We went through our purchases for the month, figured out what we could and couldn’t live without, and made a plan we could stick to. This can honestly be as simple as limiting your Starbucks intake to one trip a month – those soy lattes add up, man. In fact, Marcus calculated that if we decreased our Starbucks spending to once a month, we would save over $500 a year. Five hundred dollars! That’s a wedding cake, people. See what I mean? Find a way to make your PSL at home. You can brag about your newly discovered barista skills, and feel amazing about the money you are saving for your big day!
- Let your friends and family know about your plans to save for the big day. Having support throughout the process of planning and saving is crucial to making it to your big day without having some kind of mental breakdown. It might be hard for your friends to understand why you can’t continue going out for drinks twice a week, or getting pedicures on a regular basis. But, they will understand- and having their encouragement will help you significantly. The more transparent you are with your friends & family about your plans for the big day, and your saving tactics, the more likely they will be to offer help. Your friends and family love you and want you to have the day of your dreams! Accept help gracefully, and return the favor whenever you can.
- Communicate with, encourage, and pray with your future spouse about your saving progress. Starting to feel overwhelmed? We were too. I can’t tell you the amount of times we contemplated calling off the whole shindig and eloping to a tropical location. But, we are so glad that we didn’t. Instead of giving up, encourage each other and the incredible progress you are making as a couple to celebrate your big day surrounded by your closest friends and family. Changing your lifestyle so dramatically is a huge buzz kill- there’s no denying it. Remind yourselves of the light at the end of the tunnel. Sharing your first dance in the midst of a beautiful reception, surrounded by the people who have shaped you into the couple you are today. Smashing cake in each other’s faces and eating waaay too much stuffed chicken from the buffet. And- most of all- reveling in the fact that you made it all happen. Your hard work, sacrifice, and love for each other propelled you to this moment. You have already accomplished a huge feat of saving for the most important day of your lives- there’s no telling what else you will be able to achieve throughout your marriage.
When you dreamed of your wedding as a little girl, paying the bill was probably never a part of it. However, looking at your financial situation as a blessing rather than a burden will ultimately enhance your engagement and wedding preparation with your fiance. Saving and paying for your wedding will not be easy, and you will fight with your future spouse throughout the process (Marcus told me to make sure I included this…so you know I’m not kidding). There will be times when everything seems to be falling apart, and that you won’t be able to put everything together before your wedding day. I promise that if you stick to the tips above, especially #5, you will get through this. Your wedding day will be all that you dreamed of, and even more, because you made it happen! Bon voyage, brides!
Comment below with thoughts, questions, or anything else… I’d love to hear from you! ❤