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.
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.
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.