We all know how expensive planning a wedding can be—the numbers are overwhelming, especially when you're in the early stages. However, there are ways that couples can plan financially so that they stay within their means (and don't go into debt), even while having their dream wedding day. Couples can set themselves up for success by considering the wedding budget early, planning strategically, and keeping an eye on finances. And, of course, saving a little extra cash for the dream honeymoon is key.
Meet the Expert
Sara Margulis is the CEO of Honeyfund, a free honeymoon and cash wedding gift registry website.
1. Start Dreaming
Before you talk money, Margulis suggests sitting down with your partner and imagining your dream wedding. Is there a venue or location you love? Would you rather have a seated dinner or an energetic cocktail reception? Will a band or a DJ bring everyone to the dance floor? "And don't forget to think about your honeymoon!" she says. Write down the things that are most important, then keep them top-of-mind as you start to plan your budget.
2. Examine Your Finances
If you're paying for some (or all) of the wedding yourselves, take a look at your savings accounts. You'll want to consider how much is available to spend right now, and how much more can you save between now and your wedding day. What's the total cost that you're able to spend? If your family is going to contribute, Margulis says it's important to talk to them early on about how much they're comfortable adding to your budget (and what their expectations might be). Pick a number that works for everyone—and be sure to save some extra for your honeymoon, as well as miscellaneous or surprise costs (because there almost always will be a few).
3. Schedule Automatic Transfers
The easiest way to save money from every paycheck? Margulis recommends designating a portion of your paycheck that will automatically transfer to your savings account. That way, you won't be tempted to spend it during your bachelorette weekend.
4. Create a Thorough Budget
Use a budget calculator to make sure you're covering all of the necessary expenses. Tweak the amounts and percentages until they fit your total budget. And don't forget about those priorities you outlined in step one—take the time to play with your budget so you can earmark a little extra cash to spring for that amazing band or an upgraded bar package.
5. Set Up a Honeymoon Fund
While you've already set aside some cash for your big trip, use your honeymoon fund as a way to supplement your savings and turn this into the trip of a lifetime. Margulis says you should start planning early, listing out all of the exciting experiences you're hoping to have so that guests can contribute to a couples massage, a romantic dinner on the beach, or an upgrade to first class on the flight. This way, they can celebrate you with a gift as well as enjoy playing a role in your dream trip.