A Perfect Match

Planning Ahead for Wedding Expenses

Christie Giles Jan 11, 2018

All you need is love … unless you’re planning a wedding. Then, suddenly, you also need dresses and tuxedos, flowers and food, engagement rings and wedding bands — and that’s just for starters. Planning for wedding costs early can help reduce budgetary concerns later.

Just How Much Money Are We Talking?

At first glance, the sticker price for the average U.S. wedding may steal your breath away: $25,960 on average during the first half of 2017, not including honeymoon expenses, according to The Wedding Report. But dig deeper, and the numbers reveal half of couples nationwide spend less than $14,400.

The Buck Stops Here

Deciding exactly who pays for what may be the biggest wedding unknown you’ll face, second only to popping the question. On average, the happy couple’s parents pay for 57 percent of wedding expenses, and couples pay for most of the rest, according to The Knot 2016 Real Weddings Study. But sharing wedding expenses is rarely an exact science — and it has become increasingly flexible over time.

Some couples tweak the traditional division of wedding costs to fit preferences and financial circumstances. (A helpful list is available at Others skip the division of specific expenses and split the total wedding budget equally between responsible parties. As millennials marry later, more and more couples are footing all of their nuptial costs (and doing things their way, sans negotiations with family members).

With so many different approaches to wedding finance out there, early discussions between couples and their families are more important than ever. Talking to individuals or sides of the family separately, rather than in large groups of soon-to-be-related strangers, often encourages more open money conversations. Couples should be prepared to clearly articulate the type of wedding they envision as well as what they are prepared to contribute financially before asking what monetary contributions, if any, family members are prepared to make to the happy event.

Saving for (and on) the Big Event

Even if you can’t hurry love, you can plan for future wedding expenses. Auto-depositing funds each month to a savings account (with low opening deposits, low or no monthly fees, and competitive interest rates) is a convenient way to build a nest egg for the day you or your child say “I do.”

But regardless of whether you’ve saved for a wedding, saving on wedding expenses is always a smart idea. Katherine Mason was maid of honor at her friend’s wedding in December 2016, participated in her brother’s wedding in August 2017 and is planning a spring wedding of her own. What is her takeaway after more than a year of marriage preparations? Ask friends with musical, beauty, culinary, photography, event-planning and other talents for help when you tie the knot. (It’s becoming increasingly common for friends and family members to contribute services like these in lieu of wedding gifts.) And don’t discount the time-honored “something borrowed” tradition.

“It’s fun to find ways to apply the talents and resources my fiancé and I already have between us and our loved ones in a new way that expresses our unique style,” Mason says.

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