Miss Part I of Cassandra’s wedding planning checklist? Click here to get up-to-speed.
Whether you’re tying the knot, or helping a child or loved one plan for their big day, wedding planning is a process that requires plenty of financial preparation. Here are a few final thoughts to keep in mind before the date arrives.
Start saving as much as you can
If you’ve accomplished the first five items on this list (click here to review Part I), then you and your soon-to-be spouse have already communicated about the amount each of you is able to contribute to the wedding cost, and have used this information to draft your budget. Now that you have a budget, it’s time to start saving to ensure that you have enough set aside by the time your wedding date arrives — which will be sooner than you think!
It helps to set up automatic, monthly deposits from your checking account into your savings account. You can time these transfers to match your paycheck direct-deposits so that the funds are withdrawn before you have time to spend them, which helps keep you disciplined. Keep in mind that most vendors require deposits, so you’ll need to start saving as soon as possible to ensure you have enough cash available when booking vendors — even as far as a year in advance of your wedding date. Be wary of using credit cards or taking out loans to pay for all or a portion of your wedding. Starting your new marriage with high-interest debt can wreak havoc on your joint finances.
Shop for vendors
Make a list of vendors you would like to contact (typically, it’s best to aim for two to three in each category). Talk with family and friends and find out if they know any reputable vendors, respective price points and whether they can set up introductions. Vendors will often accommodate and offer discounts to clients if they’re referred by people they know or have worked with in the past. Consider using a vendor that is listed on your venue’s recommended list, as these companies will frequently offer discounts and perks, plus valuable insight and expertise in working with your venue. You can also use wedding sites like TheKnot.com to filter vendors by cost and view ratings.
Once you have drafted your list, start contacting vendors to learn more about their services and determine pricing. Don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions! For example, when comparing venues, inquire about the cost of kids’ meals versus adult meals, as well as a reduced cost-per-plate for underage adults who won’t be using the open bar. You should also inquire whether the total cost-per-plate is an average between your high- and low-cost plates, or whether it is based on each guest’s meal selection. These details, although small, can add to your wedding’s cost. Don’t be afraid to negotiate — for instance, if the vendor provides certain services you would rather not include in your package, ask if you can receive a discount for removing those items.
Consider cost-cutting measures
There are many ways to cut costs when planning a wedding without affecting the overall aesthetic of your affair. Start by considering the date and location of your wedding. Typically, vendor prices in cities are higher than prices in suburbs or areas just outside of cities. On the other hand, costs in rural settings are likely going to be higher, because vendors may need to travel a longer distance to provide services. Certain days of the week or seasons are busier than others; for instance, Friday and Sunday weddings are typically less expensive than Saturday weddings, and spring and summer events are typically more expensive than winter events.
Some vendors offer packages that include table linens, a cake, décor and flowers in the price-per-plate, which can save you time and possibly money. If your venue allows it, you may be able to save a significant amount of cash by stocking the bar on your own, instead of purchasing alcoholic beverage packages through the venue or an outside vendor. The honeymoon is an often-overlooked, yet expensive component of a wedding. Consider delaying your honeymoon to give you more time to save (and plan your trip!), or book your trip for non-peak travel times to save on travel costs.
Continue to save for non-wedding goals
Although your wedding is approaching, it is counterproductive to stop saving for your other goals. Maintain your “pre-wedding planning” contributions to your employer-sponsored retirement account, and make sure you are deferring at least enough to get the full employer match (if your company offers the option). You should also continue to save for your other goals — possibly the down payment on your future home! Be especially conscious of your cash flow and consider cutting out non-essential discretionary spending, such as your morning coffee or take-out lunches. You may be surprised at how much you can save by being aware of the non-essential items you purchase every day.
Consider meeting with a financial advisor
Was this your first attempt at creating a budget? A financial advisor can help prepare you and your future spouse for married life. He or she will help you communicate with each other to develop a joint budget, set shared financial goals and protect yourselves from risk — all important areas to consider when you’re just starting your life together. Your first encounter with joint-money management might come right away, as there’s a good chance you’ll be receiving generous cash gifts from guests. Your financial advisor can help you figure out how to allocate this lump sum in the most efficient way and ensure you’re starting married life on the right foot.