Q: I'm ready to tie the knot, but I don't know if I can afford to have a wedding! Between the flowers, gown and venue, it will cost thousands and thousands of dollars. How can I cut costs without compromising on my special day?
A: If you're finding the costs of your wedding to be overwhelming, you're not alone. According to wedding magazine The Knot, the average American wedding costs upward of $35,000.
That's a lot of money to spend on one day, especially for twenty- and thirty-somethings who might still be carrying college debt and are probably at the starting end of their earning potential.
It should come as no surprise, then, that more than half of newly married couples are still paying off debt from their special day years after the honeymoon is over.
This doesn't mean you need to give up your dreams of a spectacular gown and a three-tiered wedding cake.
By planning ahead, choosing wisely and prioritizing what's truly important, you can say "I Do" without stressing over wedding costs.
Instead of waiting for that special someone to pop the question, start saving now!
Ramit Sethi, popular finance blogger and author of I Will Teach You To Be Rich, says this is the biggest mistake people make when it comes to planning for their weddings. The average age of marriage is 27 for men and 26 for women. If you start saving for your wedding when you're 20, explains Sethi, you'll only need to put away $333 a month. But if you start at age 26, you'll need to put away $2,333 a month!
Start saving now and take your vows, debt-free.
Don't assume you need to get married on a balmy Saturday in July. Think off-season and mid-week, and you'll save a bundle!
First, consider a winter wedding. You might not have the luxury of sunny skies and blossoming flowers, but you'll have the warmth and coziness of being inside on a freezing winter's day. You can treat your guests to steaming hot cocoa and then set off for the ski slopes and a dreamy wintry honeymoon.
Best of all, you'll shave thousands of dollars off the venue price by choosing an unusual time of year to get married.
Second, think beyond Saturdays. If you can find a church with a vacancy on a Sunday, grab it! Venue prices can drop dramatically with just a one-day switch.
You can also opt for a mid-week wedding that precedes a national holiday date, like July 4th or Thanksgiving. This way, your guests will still be able to enjoy the evening without rushing home.
A slice of a dessert for $2.50 that doesn't even taste that good? Meh. Who needs it?
Every little girl dreams of her special day - and the special dress she'll be wearing when it finally comes. But wedding gowns can cost thousands of dollars, and after being worn once, are often left to turn yellow in a forgotten corner of an attic.
Instead of throwing out hundreds or even thousands of dollars on your gown, look for a pre-owned gown on eBay, OnceWed.com or PreOwnedWeddingDresses.com. You can find a beautiful, gently used gown for under $100.
You can also look for a gown that wasn't specifically designed as a wedding dress. Check out prom shops, or embellish a bridesmaid dress to make it look like bride material.
Wedding venues tend to be couples' biggest money-waster for their special day.Save a ton by choosing a venue that has no outside contracts. You can shop around for the cheapest caterer, or break convention and skip the sit down meal, opting for something simpler and cheaper, like a BBQ buffet, burger bar or hors d'oeuvres and mini deli sandwiches.
If you really dare to be different, you can have your wedding in one of these unique, budget-friendly venues that can also serve as wedding halls for starry-eyed couples just like you:
By planning ahead and finding unique ways to save, you'll get to enjoy your big day without the stress of wedding loans over your head.