I'm 39 days out from my wedding day and all I can think about is the excel spreadsheet that holds the expenses that I've been paying for over the last 8-months. Adding the 43 different boxes under column B that says amounts we are up to $38,000. Yup, you read that correctly, my wedding and honeymoon cost $38,000. Keep in mind we paid all of this in cash - no loans, credit cards, and parents gifted us $4,500 for the special day which helped A LOT! We still do not have the final cost for the rehearsal dinner, additional hour for the photographer, or any other last-minute items that I'm sure will come up. Daily I'm asking myself "why didn't we elope?" The average cost of a wedding is $33,000 while the cost of eloping is $5,000. I realize that a wedding is about celebrating with friends and family on this new journey, but is one day worth $38,000?
For those just starting the wedding planning process there are a few things to keep in mind:
Set individual budgets for all the big things - Venue, Catering, Rentals, Photographer/Videographer, Dress, Florist, Bakery, and Music.
Set an overall budget for the wedding and break up the additional costs based on what you are willing to spend (i.e. decorations, hair/make-up artist, shoes, additional outfits, printing, invitations, menus...etc). These areas can be adjusted as you come across items you may like more than others.
Decorations can get out of control very quickly. Having attended many weddings, I know most guests won't remember the decorations you have. They will remember the time you spent with them and how much fun they had. Stay under control with centerpieces and other decorations they truly don't matter.
Getting a venue that is beautiful and all-inclusive can be a huge money saver. I live in Los Angeles, California where everything is crazy-expensive. We decided to look a little farther out from the city to see if we could get the cost lower and get a place that was all-inclusive for the venue, catering, bar, and rentals. To give you perspective, in Los Angeles, the average cost of a venue without catering or rentals was $20,000. We are getting married in Temecula, CA at a beautiful Vineyard where the venue, bar, catering, and rentals are costing us $16,000 for 70 people.
Do not use credit cards or loans to pay for your wedding. I cannot stress this enough. It is one day in the rest of your life. It is not worth starting your relationship as one in debt. If you need more time to save up for the wedding of your dreams have a longer engagement.
As the wedding day closes in for me, I can breathe a sigh of release knowing that everything is fully paid for in cash and once the wedding is over on September 10th I won't be still paying for 1-day of celebration. Is a wedding worth it? I think only time will tell. The one thing that is worth it, is having the ability to gather all the people we love in one place for a few days from all over the country. So in the end, that is worth it.