Chances are you’ll be paying for the majority of, if not all of, your wedding-day expenses. According to Weddingbells’ Annual Reader Survey, 92 percent of Canadian couples will contribute towards their own weddings and with the average wedding costing about $30,000, financing this party is no small feat. So how do you do it? Here are 10 tips on staying financially fit from Gail Vaz-Oxlade of Til Debt Do Us Part.
1. Find Your Number
“The amount you spend on your wedding is completely a matter of personal preference and ability to pay,” says Vaz-Oxlade. “Borrowing money to blow on a one-day extravaganza is dumb. You can have as big or as small a wedding as your little heart desires, as long as you have the money—that’s cash in hand—to pay for it.”
2. Budget Together
Once you get engaged, you need to think of your household budget and wedding budget as one. “Run it like you would a business,” says Vaz-Oxlade. Talk to each other, discuss goals and ask questions.
3. Start Saving
“That means find the money to set aside for your very important day,” says Vaz-Oxlade. “This could mean bringing your lunch every day or even switching your cable plan—every little bit will make a difference. If it’s really that important to you, you’ll forgo Frappuccinos and pedicures to make your dream come true, right?”
4. Talk About Debt
Do you have outstanding credit card bills, student loans or even a mortgage? “You and your fiancé need to have a conversation about how you’re going to pay off your debt,” says Vaz-Oxlade. Ideally, you’ll want to go into the relationship debt-free (or at least carrying only good debt), but if you do have some you need to talk about it before you start planning the wedding.
5. Make Extra Money
It may not be glamorous or even easy, but extra income is a great way to help finance your wedding. Taking a part-time job, working extra hours or even selling items you don’t need (like old clothes or books) is another way you can fund the big day.
6. Don’t Burden Family
“I don’t like the idea of asking for loans from family to pay for anything,” admits Vaz-Oxlade. While it may seem like an easy solution, it’s possible your lenders may feel entitled to make decisions about your day because they’ve financially “contributed.” “Besides, these loans have the potential to cause rifts either because we expect to be forgiven, or we disappoint our lenders by not paying them back quickly enough,” explains Vaz-Oxlade.
7. Don’t Carry A Balance
It’s fine if you want to use your credit card to pay for a wedding purchase, but be sure you can pay the FULL balance each month. “Carrying a balance on a credit card for a big honking party is ridiculous,” says Vaz-Oxlade. “Pay only the minimum on that card and your wedding will end up costing you twice as much.” Consider using a credit card that will give you points or rewards that you could potentially use towards your honeymoon or groceries.
8. Keep on Track
You should be tracking each and every wedding purchase you make. Let’s say you allotted $500 for wedding party gifts and end up spending $600, you have two options: either make more money or cut back in another area.
9. Discuss Every Purchase
This means every single purchase, big or small. “If one person abdicates, then they can’t complain if the budget goes off track,” says Vaz-Oxlade. “And if one person gets to make all or most of the decisions unilaterally, what does that say about how the money is going to be managed after you get back from the honeymoon?”
10. Be Realistic
If saving for a $30,000 wedding is going to make you miserable all year (like working two jobs and saving every last dollar), then you may need to rethink your budget. You should definitely have your dream day, but not at the cost of your quality of life. Think about cutting back in certain areas, doing DIY projects or even extending your engagement to give you more time to save. When the wedding comes and goes and you’re debt-free, you’ll thank yourself.