Photo Submitted by Andrea Woroch
These tips can help you cut the big cost of you big day.
Written by Andrea Woroch
Getting married is supposed to be an exhilarating moment in every couple’s life, but the growing costs of tying the knot are turning the experience from joyful to stressful. Considering the average cost of a wedding in the U.S. last year reached a whopping $32,641, and one-third of couples go into debt to afford their big day, it’s no surprise that many fret over finances. What’s more, all the options, add-ons and “must-haves” associated with the wedding industry inevitably result in missteps that cost brides and grooms dearly.
Here’s a roundup of nine common financial mistakes soon-to-be married partners make when planning their wedding, and how best to avoid them.
Dismissing wedding coordinators.
A popular money-saving tip is to forego wedding planners and coordinators. However, wedding planners often have access to package perks unavailable to bargain-shopping couples and can also help review and enforce vendor contracts. Their expertise and relationships can actually save you money and help you avoid spending needlessly on elements that will just bust your budget. Depending on your desired venue and planning needs, a wedding planner might be a good option.
Forgetting about fees and gratuities.
One of the most overlooked wedding expenses are the taxes and service charges associated with vendor services. Ask about these fees upfront when negotiating with vendors so you can incorporate them into your budget upfront. Gratuity should also be factored into the overall price, as everyone from DJs to bar staff are commonly tipped at wedding events.
Overdone reception arrangements.
Flowers are a big part of most wedding ceremonies, yet those purchased specifically for reception decoration are not the best use of your dollars. Focus your flower funds on bouquets and boutonnieres instead, since these arrangements will be captured most on camera. You can either ask your florist to design bouquets and other flower arrangements to be reused for reception decor, or simply go flower-less for reception centerpieces and opt for candles instead.
Overbooking the photographer.
Photographers and videographers charge by the hour in addition to the cost of deliverables, and often start their services when the bridal party is getting ready. To avoid paying exorbitantly for these services, schedule reception milestones — like the first dance, speeches, cake cutting and bouquet or garter toss — early in the evening so you can dismiss these vendors promptly. Then ask guests to share any photos from the evening using a customized hashtag on social media so you can save the memories at no additional cost.
Customizing invites, thank you’s and stamps.
Considering your guests will toss the scalloped envelope and invitation featuring metallic ink, you can do without the elaborately-printed wedding invites and custom stamps. While making invites yourself may take up too much time, you can save a lot of money by ordering what’s in stock online from vendors like Shutterfly. Save even more money with these vendors by seeking out coupon codes from sites like Coupon Sherpa, where you can currently apply a Shutterfly coupon for 20% off your purchase.
Couples who opt for engraved servingware, toasting flutes and other reception essentials should steer clear of labeling products with “bride” and “groom.” Once you’re married, these items will seem dated. To ensure you’ll actually use these products again (and get your money’s worth), have your initials engraved instead.
Using the term “wedding.”
Expect a hefty “wedding tax” on everything from cards to cake when you plan your big day. A three-tiered cake from a baker, for example, can be crafted simply and decorated by the florist or a trusted friend for less than if you ordered a “wedding cake.” You can order personalized invitations from TinyPrints under the “general parties” category with prices starting at $1.29. If you want wedding-specific invites, you’re redirected to their sister site Wedding Paper Divas, with prices starting at $1.59.
Paying a premium for live music.
If you want a live band at your wedding, consider booking talent through local music schools. You can request an audition or attend their performances to determine if their style and talent are what you want. Educators at the school should be able to recommend their top students for your consideration.
Charging expenses to an existing card.
Sign-up bonuses from new credit cards will often cover the cost of two or more flights to anywhere in the country. For those couples with good credit, opening one of these cards and using it to pay for wedding expenses can help offset the cost of honeymoon plans in a big way. Otherwise, ask vendors if they can extend a cash discount since they will avoid credit card transaction fees.
Andrea Woroch is a money-saving expert who transforms everyday consumers into savvy shoppers by sharing smart spending tips and personal finance advice. As a sought-after media source, she has been featured among such top news outlets as Good Morning America, Today, CNN, Dr. OZ, New York Times, MONEY Magazine, Consumer Reports, Forbes and many more. In addition, Andrea’s stories have been published among leading publications and sites such as Yahoo!, AOL Daily Finance, CNN Money, Huffington Post, LearnVest and New York Daily News. Check out Andrea’s demo reel or visit her website atAndreaWoroch.com for more information about booking an interview or requesting an original written article. You can also follow her on Twitter or Facebook for daily money tips.