Thursday, September 17, 2009

5 Ideas For Keeping Wedding Costs Down

With the season of weddings behind us and having just finished working through my own big day, I thought it might make sense to share some of the key items that would make sense to consider if you're doing a cost-sensitive wedding.

Of course, that first paragraph is a big disclaimer. But seriously, if you were not cost-sensitive, you probably wouldn't be reading this. Furthermore, anyone else reading this and thinking about a wedding should be cost sensitive in my opinion. Weddings are crazy expensive. Many vendors charge more for a service simply because they know it is in connection with a wedding and that people feel like they are going to spend through the nose on those events.

Before reading this, understand that I am practical person before I am romantic. So, before the flames start coming about how I "don't understand," simply realize that these are my views. Take them or leave them.

All that said, here are five ideas:
1. Keep the guest list small. Figure out what you're going to do at the low end and then chop another 5-15% of the total. In other words, make the hard choices at the beginning about who to "not invite" and simply have that discussion with your significant other and family members.
2. Avoid cash gifts if practical. Most people tend to give cash when they are not sure what you need. If you have something you need to buy anyway, register. This will likely get you a gift instead of cash and you'll possibly end up with more value than if it was just cash.
3. Exploit your relationships. Almost everyone knows someone who can help out with something. And when it comes to loved ones and friends, everyone is usually more than willing to help. Use those connections to score free labor, discounted centerpieces, etc. Every little bit helps.
4. Consider avoiding the rehearsal dinner, gifts for the wedding party, or other expensive "traditions" that might not mean much to you. Or, perhaps just scale them back. No matter what you decide to do, you might be able to shave some of the cost off by simply adopting a "do less" attitude.
5. Pay cash. Like any vendor, some vendors can provide a cash discount and even if you just write a check, you can avoid interest fees. This will also force you to only spend what you can really afford. My personal feeling is that it should be in the 2-4 months worth of net income range. Anything more than that is likely too much if you're paying for it yourself and you don't have much in savings. (I'm talking <= 12 months of expenses.)

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