A Savings Goal for the Wedding Budget

As I previously mentioned, the wedding budget has been a sensitive topic for my fiancee and I. She quickly jumped off to the races thinking that we needed to book a reception location immediately and I just as quickly got overwhelmed at the possible expenses.

When it comes to spending large amounts of money, I can't help but get emotional.

This past weekend we had a 2hr+ conversation that I hope made some progress. We took a step back and both described the big events (that would have major financial impacts) we forsee in our lives. I went 1st and described basically the following:

2007-2008 - Wedding/honeymoon
2007-2008 - Sell or convert fiancee's townhome to rental property
2008-2009 - Purchase our main home, convert current home to rental property
2009 - Replace fiancee's car
2009-2011- Replace my car
2008-2010 - Start having kids, fiancee stops working
20?? - Invest in a family vacation home
20?? - Early retirement

My fiancee did the same, highlighting some different priorities, but the net was about the same. While it didn't go quite as I orginally intended, the results were what I was hoping for. It helped us start discussing HOW we were going to pay for everything. We have a lot of major financial events that are going to happen in rapid succession.

With that we started discussing how we were going to save money for several upcoming events - namily a down payment for our primary home, the wedding, my fiancee's replacement car, and our retirement contributions.

In the end we established together that we would save $550/month beginning in October for the wedding. This would give us at least 1 year of savings earmarked for the wedding and a minimum contribution of $6,600. I felt better that our other financial priorities/events weren't being ignored, and my fiancee feels better that we are setting something aside each month for the wedding.

On the downside we really didn't set a budget for the wedding and my fiancee is convinced the wedding will cost $15,000-$20,000. Since we don't know what contributions (if any) our families will make, we won't know what the end result will cost us. However we will cross that bridge when we come to it. I am happy we "drew a line in the sand" that should help my fiancee and I make decisions that have a hope of trying to keep our share of the wedding expenses under $6,600. I hope. I really really hope.......

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Comments (15)

The amount you've quoted for the cost of the wedding seems about right. My Fiance and I have started looking at venues and started doing our preliminary budgeting and the costs we're seeing are around $12,000 and we're keeping it small(maybe 50 people).

As long as you both are on the same page then it's a good start.

A wedding for under $6,600? Not bloody likely.

I suppose it is possible, but very difficult. If you had no reception, you could wed for $3000-4000...

Usually a bride has been dreaming about her wedding for ohh... all but 6 or 7 years of her life. She imagines at least 100 guests, a 4-course meal ($30-40/head), an open bar, a $1000+ dress, etc. etc.

So, the costs add up... fast.

That being said... don't sweat it, it may set back your financial goals slightly, but it'll all work out in the end.

Yeah I realize that if we pay for the entire wedding ourselves, our contribution will need to grow bigger. My fiancee seems convinced we can't have a wedding for less than $15,000 (even after we shrink the guest list).

For our wedding last year: $2,400 for the photographer (we booked him at his 2004 rate... he goes for $1k more now), $500 for my gown, $300 for the invites (I did them myself, but had them printed professionally), $1k for the rehearsal dinner, $8k for the meal (100 people, includes the open bar, tax, and gratuity), $3,500 for the honeymoon... Yeah. It adds up. But our first anniversary was yesterday and we don't regret a cent.

And I'm with your fiancee: booking the reception site and the photographer are things you should be doing sooner rather than later. You'd be surprised how competitive brides can be ;) Key vendors (photo, site, DJ) get booked over a year in advance, depending on where you are.

I'm budgeting about 15-20K as well for my wedding. Two things I'm plan to do to reduce spendings is:
-Use my CitiProfessional card to get 3% back on the banquet.
-Just applied for the Starwood Preffered Amex that comes with 10,000 starpoints that I can use for my honeymoon.

Dude, your going to be rich. Spend at least $25K. Stop counting the pennies for things that count. You only live once. You can't go back. Start thinking how you can make the $25k before the wedding.

I've been following your blog for awhile. You make alot of smart decisions, but on this one your clueless.

You should be thinking how am I going to raise $100K for the best wedding ever. But instead you worried about your measly budget.

Dude get a life,


I will give you some valuable information to save on your wedding. But first I just have to say that from what I can tell, obviously via reading a post on the internet and not knowing her in real life, that she is JUST like every other woman I've known. They will say they want to be on the same page, they will say they understand whatever it is you are trying to convey, but they will end up being who they are - spenders. For her to say "it will cost xxx for a wedding without formalizing ANY budget" can only mean that is what she EXPECTS it to be and even worse, every wedding I've known about goes over budget.
So, as promised, here is my advice:
1) Have a brunch (midmorning ) wedding. No formal meal needed, just finger foods and fruits.
2) Have a cello, violin and flute trio playing nice music. No need for dj, dance floor, etc.
3) Find a photographer that is good but is starting their business. Mine was a cruise ship photographer for 10 years before starting his business. Ideally shoot for 300 for about 3 hours and you keep negatives/get digital images.
4) Find a location that you save money on if guests stay there. Often beautiful bed and breakfasts will cut the rate if you book it and get out of towners to stay there.
5) Have the wedding outdoors. No church fees, more autonomy to decorate as you please, natural lighting for the photographer so easier to get great pictures and very little cleanup compared to church.
6) As guests to donate to something you both are interested in versus worthless gifts. Such as a special fund that will be used for xxx or "toward our new home".
7) Do the invitations yourself
8) Do not hire a coordinator, do it yourself
9) Do the honeymoon in Mexico/Cozumel/Costa Rica, etc where your money goes a LONG way and airfaire is minimal comparatively.

Such an utter waste of money weddings are. There are few places that a cake costs 200 bucks, a dress costs 1000, digital photos cost 2500 and everyone thinks it's totally normal and OK. No wonder people are broke. :(

Although I didn't spend any money on the wedding and I'm broke...so hmmm.

Hey Mike! Great idea . . . wrapped up in obnoxiousness, of course. ;-)

But, really, that is a fabulous idea. 2million is thinking about his wedding from a perspective of lack and scarcity rather than a perspective of abundance. Get creative, 2million. This is a fabulous opportunity to put yourself and everything you've learned from blogging to the test.

Give yourself this goal: to figure out a way to make $20,000 to pay for your fiance's dream wedding. And, keep us posted!

Mike & Michelle - excellent points. I have definitely been focused on one side of the equation. I need to bring this up with my fiancee.

I love the idea that LAMoneyGuy came up with to save extra money for his wedding by recycling.

I love this post. Dude, we're totally at the same point, on the same page. After thinking about this and talking with a number of people and posting several times about it, and receiving divergent comments, I have come to a conclusion. You can spend as much or as little as you want. Earth shattering, I know. But just like your conversations about merging your finances, the thing to focus on is your goals and values. If you value a big wedding with all the trappings, then by all means budget the money for it. If not, and not everyone does, then tell Mike to go to hell.

By the way, do you know how large your wedding will be? I am learning that the size of your guest list if probably the largest determining factor in how expensive your wedding will be.

Also, while the recycling is creative and somewhat fun, the return is pretty meager. I am planning on taking a load in this weekend, so I'll probably post the results. A fun way to increase the return is to get everyone involved. I tell friends and co-workers, and I find myself driving home with bags of bottles and cans.

I budgeted for our destination wedding last year, down to the dollar, about 50 people. Budgeted $10k, with our personal airfare/hotel included. Came out under $8k. I splurged and spent almost $700 on getting pretty - dress, alterations, hair/makeup, shoes, accessories.

It's just one day. Our friends know I'm a saver (read: cheapskate). ;) But we had a great meal, open bar, a yummy cake, fun favors, and a memorable event. Wouldn't have done it any other way.

There's a website that I used to help with budgeting our wedding - www.weddingchannel.com. They have a budget section under their "Tools" that is VERY handy. You enter the # of guests and your total budget and they tell you (ballpark) how much you should spend on flowers, dress, cake, etc. They even give you suggestions on what you can get for that kind of money. It was my bible when I planned our wedding. I believe www.theknot.com does the same thing.

By the way, our wedding was 2 years ago and I thought we wouldn't get pregnant for 5-6 years. I'm now 8 months along in my pregnancy. So, you never know what life will throw at you!

Love the site!


awwwwwwwwww 2mil. Congratulations.

1 mil, I take slight offense to your comments about women, but there are so many examples of that type of woman I can't really blame you. There ARE exceptions.

My advice for you . . . is to prepare yourself that the whole wedding expense thing will be a constant tug-of-war between "it's just ONE day!" and "exactly - it's the ONE day!" - whether it's with yourself or your fiancee.

When I got engaged and had to start planning, the first thing I did was head over to good ol Barnes and Noble. They had one great book called "The Conscientious Bride." While not exactly about budgets, it was a great relief to me to find something about marriage and not weddings (two entirely different things for most people.)

I think once you get the idea of a wedding out of your head, start from scratch, and build up the idea of how you will celebrate the first day of your marriage - then you will always end up with something more meaningful, memorable, and much less expensive. You'll end up with the kind of wedding people keep talking about, and not because it was so extravagent or done just-by-the-etiquette book. And what woman doesn't want to have the kind of wedding everyone keeps talking about?

Plus, when you're done, you can submit your story for Emily Post's new book about nontraditional/more meaningful weddings and be famous for something besides financial blogging:


And lastly - you know how when you really want something, and you finally get it, and the good feeling lasts only so long before you start moving on the next thing you really want? Well, don't think weddings are any different. When they're over you're ready to move onto the next thing. I think it was really smart to make your lists and plan for ALL of them, not just the wedding.

I'm sure you guys will work it out. Again, congratulations.

I am getting married in June and my wedding is costing me $55,000 everything gets very expensive we started out on a $20,000 budget but that all changed when we started planning and seen how much things really do cost!!! Good luck!!

what an interesting site ive stumbled on! i guess im in the same boat. my partner and myself have been together 8 years and have three children and feel the times right to do it. but i didnt realise how much it would be. its all abit daunting. were on a small budget so ive been trying to cut all corners! im having my dress made for me for £200. il be getting the bridesmaid outfits in the sale! the invites will be a gift from my mum, although i could make them, and the favours. ive found a 1930's style resuraunt which will do the reception for free, but we will have to buy the food from them at £1000. plus, they will put £100 towards a dj. my partners nan will make the cake for free and my sister will do the flowers for free. plus my sister offered to pay for the hotel afterwards. instead of a gift list i will instead ask for a a small gift of cash so we could put towards the honeymoon, and take a last minute deal. or holiday vouchers. find a new photographer which will do your phots for cheaper. all in all my wedding will cost £2000, and i know it wont be short of fabulous! my advice, tell everyone you want to get married and your on a budget, and dont be afraid of help. remember, your family love you and they want to be involved! plus ask around. its not what you know its who you know! good luck!!!

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A personal finance weblog of my journey to reach my goal of $2 million + the value of my primary residence.
Current Net Worth: $1,938,393


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