Why You Should Start Saving For Your Wedding On The First Date

May 30, 2013

Why You Should Start Saving For Your Wedding On the First Date


I know, I know. So. Many. Red. Flags.  Save for your wedding before you’ve got a fiancé locked in? Cue the creepy music now. I can already see the people flailing their arms in startled opposition to the claim that you should start saving for a wedding on a first date, but heck- I’ll up the ante:  you should really start saving for a wedding before the first date.

Here’s the deal- the average wedding is between $20-$25,000 but it’s not just expensive, it’s inconveniently timed.

The average courtship is around 2-3 years.  If you started saving now for a 25 month time frame, you’d have to put away about $400 a month for a $10,000 wedding, double that to meet the “national average.”  Yikes.  That’s quite a bit of saving, yet so many hope that something magical will happen (inheritance from a long lost aunt?) when they get engaged or indulge in superstition not wanting to jinx it… yet here’s the thing- if you want to get married ever, like, EVER, now is the time to start saving.

Time is not on our side- most people are still paying off student loan debts or have car payments to make, combine that with the short time frame for most engagements and the fact that expense of a wedding is massive, it’s just really inconveniently timed to plan for a wedding while still paying off the early years. Yep- short time, big money. No bueno.


Wedding Savings Timetable (per month):

$25,000 Budget:  Save $1041 for 24 Months or $694 for 36 Months

$20,000 Budget:  Save $833 for 24 Months or $555 for 36 Months

$10,000 Budget:  Save $416 for 24 Months or $277 for 36 Months

Uh, anyone else freaked out by those numbers?  Honestly- I have talked to too many brides and grooms to be who only had the financial discussion after the proposal- but that puts a very tight timeline on things.  Compound wedding expenses with many other large purchases that plague us around this time which usually include debts we’ll incur soon (cars, houses) and stuff we’re already paying off, like those glorious student loans.

For many young couples, wedding planning has to start early, and talking finances is totally unromantic but necessary.  While not every wedding can be paid for in cash, even putting aside half of the estimated budget (and yes, budgets always go over for the big day!) can reduce so much wedding stress and lead to a solid financial foundation for the beginning of a marriage.


So, How To Start Saving For A Wedding (Especially When You’re Not Even Engaged)

First, you’ll want to set up a separate savings account with automatic deposits on a weekly or monthly basis.  Calculate how much you’ll need to save each and every month in order to be on target.  Weddings always go over budget, plans change and honeymoons are always stupid expensive.  While it sucks that credit cards always have higher interest rates than savings accounts, you’ll save now to save later!

Secondly, realize that saving for a wedding can be private and you don’t have to tell anyone you’re doing it- in fact, you shouldn’t.  It’s not just superstition, sometimes it’s a deal breaker if a new partner finds out you’re wedding planning before you’ve even had a serious talk.  If you start saving for a wedding, you can call this extra savings account your “Vegas fund” or “Bucket List Account,” to avoid having an awkward conversation that could sour a budding relationship.  Though you’re financially responsible, your future partner might not be ready to have that talk to see how awesome you are!

Third, remind yourself that saving for a wedding does not mean you have to use all the money on a wedding, or heck, any of it- you are not locked in to a life choice simply because you saved for it!  You may decide, when you meet the right partner, that you’d rather have a small courthouse wedding and put it towards a down payment for a home instead- the point is, you’ll have the money regardless of what life brings you later.  It’s better to have the money ahead of time than to scramble when you’re in some whirlwind romance.  Who knows, you may break up with a jerk and spend it on a cruise and a new car-  it’s up to you but be prepared! Most people get married at some time or another, it’s better to be prepared than to be in debt.

Finally, treat saving for a wedding like you would a car payment- luckily though, saving ahead means you won’t be paying interest later!  Treat saving for a wedding day like you would a car payment- meaning, it has to be done each and every month, no excuses.  Being realistic about this expense and treating your wedding day as a financial reality not a fairy tale fantasy will hopefully lead to a stronger marriage and less debt (or none!) for the cake and flowers.


If you’re married, when did you start saving for your wedding?

What’s you best advice to help future couples save up?

24 comments so far.

24 responses to “Why You Should Start Saving For Your Wedding On The First Date”

  1. My goal, if I decide to get married, is to spend less than 5k on the wedding/reception. I’m a crafty mofo so a lot will be done by hand, but I think it’s possible (and I love a good challenge!)

    • Shannyn says:

      Totally Erica- I think it can be done by hand. Any kind of budget can be met if you stick to it and have a logical plan to get it done! I just know most of my friends always end up over budget so if I set a 10k budget, I know it’d probably end up at about 15k….yikes!

  2. This is a GREAT post! When my hubby and I got married, we paid for the wedding ourselves. Since we both are savers, we each had money that we were able to contribute without making our wedding a nightmarish, credit card spending spree. We stuck to our budget and we are so happy that we did. We have friends and family that have come away from their weddings in debt and that is no way to start your happily ever after!

    • Shannyn says:

      I totally agree Lisa! Having a special day is important, but putting a relationship at risk due to overpriced cakes and high interest rates on purchases is no way to start a life together…but things get so out of hand so quickly (damn you marketing!) and saving ahead is the best way to nip it in the tush!

  3. We’re approaching our 4th anniversary and I’d say buck the trend and elope. We’ve made some pretty good financial decisions in our married lives so far, but this is definitely one of the best.

    • Shannyn says:

      Haha! I wonder where the best places to elope are? We had friends do it in Vegas, but at a nice hotel not the little chapels (which sometimes can be fun but also sort of seedy if you have grandparents around..lol). I wouldn’t mind eloping on a beach or somewhere off Route 66..something to consider and much cheaper!

      • Shanynn, we had a boat captain take us out on a catamaran in the baja off of Mexico. His wife took pictures, his little kids were witnesses, and he performed the ceremony. Then we went snorkeling and for a private sail. $150 to add a wedding to our vacation. Super cheap and amazingly beautiful. =)

  4. Kristin says:

    Great advice. What about putting some money into a CD (I have no idea what interest rates are) and rolling it over until it time to start paying for everything? It could help earn a little extra interest.


    • Shannyn says:

      Hey Kristin- yes, saving now is smart..interest rates on CDs aren’t great, but they’re guaranteed cheaper than paying for a wedding after the fact with a high interest rate credit card! I’d rather have someone break even than go in debt so I think you have a solid plan!

  5. Stacy K. says:

    My husband and I were engaged in college, and didn’t really have money to save up. But, we did have a fairly long engagement, and we planned early and paid for things as we went along. Both of our families pitched in along with us, and I did a TON of DIYing. I’m crafty & frugal like that… and an event planner. We spent about $8,000 (including rings) and were married in a castle with a full dinner and everything you would expect at a $25k wedding. I wanted a nice wedding, but just couldn’t bring myself to spend so much money on one day. Granted, it was the day we were married, but the point is to be married, not to go into debt in an effort to impress other people with expensive things. Thanks for the fantastic post! Definitely something to think about and plan for that almost no one talks about in advance. Good thinkin’ girl!

  6. Ahhhh! This is so stressful. I should have started saving for my wedding years ago, but here we are. I’m not engaged yet, but we talk an awful lot about getting married next year. We are also house shopping, and on top of that I still have a few thousands in student loan debt. And not to mention my car has 160k miles on it (you can do it car, keep going!). I have money saved up already for an emergency fund, a down payment on both a car and a house. Now for paying off those student loans and saving up for that wedding. I feel like I can’t buy any extras and I’m in a spending freeze. I’m just hoping I can save up enough and that it all works out without delaying the wedding. Wish me luck!

    • Shannyn says:

      I’m totally wishing you luck and also totally know how you feel- but at least you’re thinking about it and you’re not in some haze hoping for a fairy godmother (but hey even if you did, I get it!) that will whisk away the financial issues around a wedding… I think with planning and patience you can totally do it!

  7. This is some terrifying math. But thank you for the post, and all of the suggestions are great! <3

  8. Janine says:

    Just thinking about this makes me cringe and I’m only 22. Come September the boyfriend and I will have been together for 3 years and I’ll be finishing up my degree shortly there after. He is almost rid of all his debt so it kinda seems like the timing is perfect… I could see us being engage within a year or so… which is exciting but OMG IT”S GOING TO BE EXPENSIVE. I’ve already save $2,000 but there is so much more to go! Ah!

  9. Speaking from experience, the bit of advice I would give to couples getting married would be to save up your money but use a cash back or rewards credit card to reap all the benefits you can from them. You can save a lot of money and get discounts by doing this. By all means, pay it off immediately because you don’t want to start off your new life in any kind of debt. But since these purchases for your wedding will add up, take advantage of what you can get back by using one of these type of cards.

    • Shannyn says:

      Interesting, thanks for sharing Sam! Yes, if you use credit work on getting as much out of it as possible if you can’t pay cash (which many of us won’t be able to pay cash up front for everything!)

  10. Singlest Single Girl says:

    I dream of getting married all the time… Shoot, I dream of having a boyfriend for that matter! Lol. But I know exactly what I want when the time comes for me to tie the knot. And while I don’t want to spend too, too much (considering we still have to live and eat after that wonderful day), I don’t want to miss out on having what I DO want. Therefore, I Googled to see when you should start saving for your wedding day and I am SO happy that I came across this page!! I sent it to my other single friends (well… all of my friends–we’re all single). Thanks so much for the great advice!

  11. Eric says:

    I’m glad I decided to look this up.I just started dating young lady this month and I am so happy with the way things are going I was wondering about the planning. I was actually wondering how long to take between our first date and getting married. we are taking it easy we have our own places and we are both divorced with children

  12. Sarah O. says:

    This is really interesting. When we first started dating, my fiance would tease me about my obsessive money-saving, asking me, “What are you even saving for?” In truth, I wasn’t saving for anything in particular, but I’ve always felt that it’s incredibly unwise to live paycheck to paycheck if you have the means to save! I mean, anything could happen – car breaks down, sudden illness, etc. – that I might need money for. And now, five years later, here we are planning a wedding, and all that saving has really paid off!

  13. Michelle Castillo says:

    Ok, so me and my boyfriend are going on 5 months and I have never been one to think I was going to get married. BUT lately I cant stop myself from looking at wedding ideas on Pintrest. Somewhere deep down I know I am going to marry him (I have never said that about anyone). We are already in love and planning things like vacations and looking into a house! I suck at saving money, this blog really helped! I am going to start saving for a wedding we haven’t even considered yet. Ahhh I feel sneaky and yet oddly clever! Thank you for not making me feel crazy for wanting to start saving for a wedding IF he decides to ask!
    Michelle C.


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