Have the Wedding You Can Afford

I get calls from telemarketers all. the. time. From companies trying to get me to pay money for better Google rankings (no thank you), to random websites trying to get me to spend my marketing dollars on the latest and greatest advertising vehicles (uhh… no thank you), we are constantly bombarded with cold calls from companies trying to get us to do business with them. In an age where brides are more likely to send us an initial email as opposed to picking up the phone and calling, it’s safe to say that when the Hitched Events phone rings and the caller ID shows an out-of-state number, chances are fairly high that it’s someone we are saying “thanks, but no thanks” to.

A few weeks ago, I got a call from a telemarketer unlike any I had ever received before. The woman on the phone explained that she was with a lending company, and she wanted to get information to my clients about financing their weddings.

Hold the phone. Let me get this straight… you are wanting to talk with my brides about taking out a wedding loan? Ummm… no thank you.

The Bridal Guide

Now… I know that plenty of people take out loans for their weddings, and another big chunk of people rack up loads of credit card debt so that they can have the wedding that they have always imagined but can’t afford. But I have to say… and forgive me for getting a little preachy here… but don’t do it! PLEASE. Don’t. do. it.

With the divorce rate at 50% and finances being one of the biggest sources of marital conflict, I can’t think of a worse way to start a marriage than buried in debt from your wedding. An absolutely perfect fairy tale day, and then paying it off for the next two years? Repeat after me… No thank you.

Here’s the deal… we all want things we can’t afford — the bigger, newer, must-have, exclusive, expensive things. I know that I’ve eyed an expensive bag on the arm of a friend or a client and had a tinge of jealousy… but I didn’t go out and charge up a credit card for one. And every time my husband sees a Maserati or a Tesla on the street he talks about how he’d totally buy one if we had the money. But I think that’s the missing piece. The “IF” we had the money part of the equation sometimes gets lost, and many of us go ahead and buy things we can’t afford simply because credit card companies (and mortgage companies, and car companies, and let-me-give-you-a-loan-for-your-wedding companies) make it super easy to buy now and pay later… so easy in fact that Americans have racked up an average of nearly $16,000 in credit card debt per household. Yikes!

What makes weddings especially difficult is that it’s such a symbolic event in one’s life and if you do it right the first time, you only get to do it once, which creates a huge conflict between the “it’s just one day” (so why would we spend so much money on this?) and the “I only get to do it once” (so why wouldn’t I do it how I really want it?). And the fact that you’re hosting this event for all your family and friends creates a whole other level of complication as you juggle your budget, your own desires, and the expectations of your guests. Toss in the co-worker who just got married a few months before and the need to outdo her, and it’s no surprise why putting parts of your wedding on a credit card or even taking a loan out have crossed the mind of many a couple. I get it. As a former bride, I totally get it.

But… I really feel strongly that you shouldn’t have a wedding you can’t afford. Brides, grooms, or parents should not be going into debt for one day… no matter how beautiful that one day might be. So, what’s the alternative? What’s a couple to do that envisions a certain wedding but doesn’t have the budget for it? I have a few ideas.

  1. Have the gorgeous wedding you want for a smaller group of people: With a ton of the expenses for a wedding based on headcount, having a smaller guest list could allow you to have some of the details you’ve imagined and still stay on budget. A five-course plated dinner with an open bar, specialty linens, custom menu cards, and gorgeous chargers is much less expensive for 60 people than it is for 160. Consider taking a hatchet to your guest list in order to have the platinum wedding you imagine.
  2. Have a longer engagement: It’s easy to get engaged and then immediately dive head first into wedding planning, but what’s the rush? Pushing your wedding date out a bit will allow you to sock away a bit of money each month for your wedding so that when it does come around, you’re using cold, hard cash instead of credit. My husband and I did exactly this, tying the knot 20 months after being engaged. Sure, it was a longer engagement period than most, but we were able to use that time to save for the wedding we really wanted and start our marriage without the burden of wedding debt.
  3. Come to terms with your budget and re-evaluate your priorities: When you can’t have everything (and most of us can’t), decide what is on the “must-have” list vs. the “nice-to-have” list and spend accordingly. If having your closest 200 friends in attendance is your top priority but your budget isn’t unlimited, then perhaps you go for a beer and wine reception instead of an open bar or less expensive cuisine in order to cut costs. Or if gorgeous tabletop decor is on the top of your list, perhaps you work with a DJ instead of hiring that amazing, but pricey band in order to save your budget. Spending according to your priorities is the best bet for keeping your wedding in line with what you can afford.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love a big budget wedding just as much (if not more) than the next person. If you have $200,000 to spend on your wedding… awesome! There are certainly a lot more options available to you in terms of venue, food, decor and entertainment. But whether you’ve spent $200,000 to tie the knot or $20,000, you’re still just as married. I firmly believe that regardless of how much your wedding costs, you shouldn’t start that first day as Mr. and Mrs. paying off wedding loans and credit cards. Have the wedding you can afford, and live happily ever after!

So… what do you think? Would you take out a loan or take on credit card debt in order to have the wedding you want? If you are already married, I’d love to hear about your experience with this with your own wedding!

 

 

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