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How Will I Ever Afford My Child’s Wedding?

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Ah, summer. It’s time for picnics, summer breaks, and pretty dresses. Not just any dresses, either - wedding dresses! Chances are, if you’re in your twenties or thirties, many of your weekends during the warmer months are taken up with friends and family tying the knot. And if you’re in a long term relationship yourself? You may be marvelling at all of the pretty venues, cakes and accessories, and wondering when it will be your turn. If you expect that you’ll be engaged soon (or already are) though, you have another concern: how do I pay for all of this?!

It’s incredibly easy for weddings to become extremely expensive - not least of which because everyone expects you to spend a fortune on them. In fact, the average American wedding rings in at almost $30,000 - which is pretty close to the national average annual income! It’s enough to make many decide to elope and give up their dreams of a traditional ceremony and reception. But don’t worry, I’m here to tell you that it just doesn’t have to be this way.

Here are the best ways to keep your wedding costs down:

What Do You Really Care About?

Before you make any major purchases, sit down with your betrothed (gotta love that word) and write out what you both think is critical to have at your wedding - and be warned, this will be on hard mode if you’re both different religions.

For example, some questions to get you started. Try answering these questions separately and then comparing what you said once you’re both finished:

  • Is it important to me to get married in a house of worship?
  • Are there any particulars of the venue, either for the ceremony or reception, that I insist on? This is a great time to think about places that you’ve always pictured getting married or hold special meaning to you.
  • How many people do I imagine attending? (50, 100, 200, 300+)
  • Do I want the reception to be casual, business casual, dressy, formal, or white tie? How much do I want to invest in getting ready?
  • Do I care if we have a cake, or am I open to alternative desserts?
  • How important are each of the vendors to me? Rate these in order,and mark any you could do without completely: photographer, videographer, DJ, live band, florist, caterer, hair & make-up artist, wedding planner, limo service, bartender, decorator
  • What details do I really, really care about?

Knowing the answers to these questions before you start shopping will help you both from getting talked into things you don’t really care about because a salesperson is particularly good. You won’t believe the amount of times you’ll be asked what your “dream centerpiece” or “dream napkin design” is - and how insecure you may feel admitting that you’ve really never had a dream about a napkin before.

Borrow What You Can

There are a lot of things that are worn, used or admired at a wedding that are literally never used again. While you may not be open to borrowing your dress (though you certain can rent them), consider reaching out to other brides, both friends and family, about other things. Popular items to borrow include veils, wedding-specific looking shoes, hair accessories, jewelry, and decorations.

Ask Friends For Help

Got some friends that are talented and looking to break into a new industry? Help them break in and get some experience by asking them to help with your wedding! Maybe you have an aspiring photographer, cake decorator or DJ just waiting for their moment, and you’ll never know until you ask - though definitely make sure to pay them for their hard work. Even if you have experienced vendors in your group of friends, you’ll likely get a fair price, simply because you know them.

Weddings are exciting, but they’re also anxiety-inducing. Don’t let the internet and previous weddings give you a case of FOMO that makes you bust your budget - especially without researching if there’s a cheap way to still get exactly what you wanted all along.

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