This one is for all the lovebirds who got engaged over the holidays and are now planning a wedding with no event planning experience.
Somehow, you are expected to create a day that is both traditional and modern. Well attended, but intimate. It’s about you as a couple, but shouldn’t be offensive to any of your guests either. And most importantly, don’t overspend, but make sure it looks expensive.
Sure, weddings are fun, but the most important part of any wedding is what happens after – your real life, together. Don’t start this life with credit card debt that lasts until your fifth birthday.
If you focus your spending on what you and your guests will actually notice, and avoid expensive things that no one really cares about, you’ll have a beautiful debt-free wedding.
Step #1: Establish a personalized wedding budget
Before you plan anything, set a budget based on what you (and your families, if they’re contributing) can afford. Make every decision with this number in mind.
At its core, a wedding is simply “a celebration of love,” said Jen Glantz, founder of a US-based wedding service provider. “In this celebration, there are no rules. Think of your marriage as a blank slate, an empty room. What do you want to fill it with? What can you afford to fill it with? »
Step 2: Reassess traditional “must haves”
“That’s the most important thing I have to tell everyone when they’re planning a wedding: you don’t need anything at your wedding to get married,” Glantz added. “If you don’t want cake, don’t have it. If you don’t want to wear a dress or tuxedo, don’t.
Here are more ways to save.
• Decor: Customers remember the overall vibe, not the little details. “People at weddings are busy,” Glantz said. “And when you’re busy, you don’t see anything.” Save on decor by renting it out or browsing groups on social media. Friends who are already married may have leftover items that they would be happy to lend or pass on. There are even services where you can share flowers with another couple who are getting married the same week.
• Transport: “We’re locked into this idea that a limo or a luxury sedan will get you to church or get you to the venue,” said Sheavonne Harris, owner of a US-based wedding planning company. But your guests will be seated inside when you arrive, so the car won’t be part of your grand entrance. Car services also usually require you to book a minimum number of hours, so you’ll end up paying for the time you don’t use. She recommends booking a rideshare service — yes, just like when you need a ride to the airport.
• Invitations, Programs and Menus: All those paper items you carefully select will go in the trash. Programs are left on chairs after the ceremony and menus are hidden under plates after a quick scan. Even your invitations will only have a few months on guests’ refrigerators before they’re headed to the landfill. “They just get thrown in the trash,” Harris said. If you want the paper tradition for less, skip the menus and programs. You can also find beautiful paper invitations at some online retailers for a fraction of the price. Many of these printers also offer seasonal sales.
Step 3: Spend on what gets noticed
• Photography: Long after your wedding, you will only be left with memories and photos. This is not the task to entrust to this cousin who took a few photography courses in college. “If you want to put money into something, put it into photography,” Harris added. “With photography, you really get what you pay for.”
• The customer experience: Glantz and Harris both recommended paying attention to weddings you attend as a guest before your own big day. What made you feel welcome? Guests won’t remember you got married in a quaint historic mansion, but they will remember if that mansion only had one bathroom with a 20-minute line to use it. Reduce spending elsewhere to focus on food, beverages, entertainment and guest comfort.
• Professional sellers: Hiring a friend or doing a task yourself can seem like an economic decision. Harris warns that unlike a professional salesperson, your friend likely won’t have a back-up plan when the flower order is late or the sound equipment is down. And booking a pro at the last minute because that friend is pulling out will end up costing you even more.
Step 4: Use a rewards credit card
Many independent vendors do not accept credit cards, but whenever possible, pay for wedding expenses with a rewards credit card.
Not only can you earn cash back or travel rewards (like a discounted honeymoon), but if a supplier fails to deliver on their commitment to you, you can dispute the charges.
Although you’re not going to pay the whole deal with credit card rewards, you can cut your net cost by the hundreds.
You can also use a card that offers 3% cash back on restaurant purchases to cover the cost of food at your wedding.
This can work – but if the food is sourced from a catering company or provided by the wedding venue rather than a restaurant, your card issuer might not consider it a ‘catering purchase’. All of a sudden, you’re earning a lot less rewards than you thought.
How a sign-up bonus on a credit card can help cut your wedding expenses
Let’s say you get a card that offers a bonus worth Dh500 if you spend Dh4000 in the first three months. The bonus effectively gives you a 12.5% reduction on these expenses. Some even go bigger.
Your savings may not always be instant, but they can pay off big time later. In this case, the sign-up bonus may help you pay for part of your vacation a few months later.
However, be sure to pay off your card balance in full each month, so interest charges don’t eat away at those rewards.
When developing such a cost-saving bonus strategy, try to find a card that matches your spending habits, so you don’t have to throw it to the curb after earning the bonus.