St. Patrick’s Day season leads to thoughts of green, which leads to thoughts of money, which is probably much on your mind as you plan your wedding. When Kelsey Rakers took time out from planning her big day to write an article about it for McHenry County Magazine, she began with a national average: “The average American wedding today costs $30,000.”
Then, said Kelsey, “Like me, you might have looked at that number and thought it was totally absurd.” But she goes on to point out just how quickly the expenditures meter can start running, and how very, very fast. Why?
1) Emotions – Just about everybody’s emotions are in overdrive in the months and days between “Yes” and “I do”. And as we all know, emotions wreak havoc on common sense and make it difficult to make wise decisions.
2) Expectations – As Rakers well defines it: “pressure to provide a top-notch experience for your guests [who are] spending… time and money to travel to celebrate with you.”
And let’s face it, there’s the pressure you put on yourself—all the elements you’ve planned since you were little—the dream dress, the dream cake, the dream flowers. They’ve got to be there, right?
3) Social media – Who doesn’t want a wedding that will get splashed all over the internet courtesy of impressed guests? (The TV show Four Weddings recently went to Sycamore, IL and to Rosemont, and I had to ask myself: Would I brave taking everything to such a level that my wedding was dissected on television AND JUDGED?)
And finally 4) Your partner – Maybe you’re actually the uber-practical, clear-eyed one whose dreams never turned to weddings and who would cheerfully elope and save the money for a house; but maybe your potential spouse (or your mother) is the seeker of The Perfect Wedding. (Spoiler alert: perfection does not exist.)
So what’s the answer?
1) Prioritize – Along with its twin sister “Compromise.” And then, you know how we’re taught to go to the grocery store with a list so you don’t come back with Totinos and beer when you meant to buy bread and milk? For a wedding, gazillion-uple that.
2) You must have a plan; and the more swish you expect the wedding to be the more you plan for it. A plan can be drawn up in a dreamy state of hope, right enough; and then it can be changed around, crossed through, downsized and altered. All with an eye to economy. According to statistics from The Knot, 9 out of 10 couples use a wedding planning app.
4) In tandem with The Plan… The Budget – Same MO, and of course, there’s an app for that.
Maybe one of the two of you is the list maker, while the other is the numbers cruncher. You could hope for that! But even if the same person has to incorporate it all, both plan and budget will be your guides. Remember to plan for the little things that do add up to big dollars. Rakers mentions gifts for attendants, marriage license, postage and alterations. The trouble is that a lot of the “little things”—taxes, fees, and add-on costs from service providers if you want to upgrade something—probably aren’t even on your radar because chances are you haven’t been married before.
This is where a good guide comes in, and there’s no shortage on the internet. We like weddingstats.org, where you can quickly see all the elements you need to consider to make a wedding; and then it offers intelligent walk-through of each one.
So, as the Irish say: “May the road rise up to meet you.” Plan carefully—the green you save could be your own!