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Say ‘I Do’ Without the Debt

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue —a sweet wedding tradition, unless the something borrowed is thousands of dollars to pay for the big day. Is it possible to say ‘I do’ without the Debt?

Money issues are the number 1 cause of marital conflict, so it doesn’t make sense to start married life with enormous debt. Sometimes a financial rough spot is unavoidable, such as when a spouse loses a job. But wedding-related debt is an entirely avoidable hurdle.

Know what you can afford and work with what you have

The average wedding these days costs between $25,000 and $35,000. However, you can make the big day memorable and special without breaking the budget. It just requires the right attitude, a willingness to be flexible, and creativity.

Starting out richer rather than poorer

Those in the wedding business agree that there are countless ways to cut costs without sacrificing the dream. The key is identifying what one or two things are most important to you and your future spouse so you can splurge in those areas and economize in others.

For example, one bride put together a wedding for 150 people at a cost of just $1,500. The trick was to splurge on fresh flowers (her “must have”) and good champagne (her fiancé’s indulgence) and keep everything else simple. They also asked friends and family for help, including borrowing a friend’s wedding dress.

You can achieve elegance and individuality with half the money. Here are other ways to cut costs without sacrificing the dream:

  • Don’t wed during peak season. You’ll have more leverage in negotiating prices on everything from catering to the band if you can avoid getting married during the height of wedding season.
  • Lower the guest count. A shorter guest list not only keeps costs down, it creates a more intimate and personal affair. Consider inviting only your immediate family and closest friends.
  • Consider options for the reception. A brunch buffet usually is less expensive than a sit-down dinner or a served brunch. Serving midafternoon hors d’oeuvres instead of a full meal can also be a good money-saving option.
  • Limit the number of attendants. Having many attendants will mean more plates at the rehearsal dinner as well as more bouquets and boutonnieres. And, gifts for the wedding party can be expensive. Allow those closest to you to participate another way.

Talk About Your Budget

It’s important to know what you can comfortably afford before making your plans. Sit down with your future spouse and your parents and create a budget. Determine ahead of time how much you can afford to spend and then stick to your plans. There are many online wedding budget planners to help you. Make sure to include miscellaneous expenses, like tips, the marriage license fee, attendant gifts, and thank you cards.

Here are additional tips to avoid post-wedding money troubles:

  • Pay off credit cards as you use them. Using a credit card to pay for deposits can be smart, but make sure to pay your credit card bills each month. If you can’t pay them in full, then pay more than the minimum monthly payment.
  • Don’t count on cash gifts to pay for your wedding. Spend only what you can afford to on your own and use any money you receive to help you with your important financial goals.
  • Communicate with each other. Talk often and openly about the wedding budget, bills to be paid, and choices to be made.

You can keep your special day uniquely yours, but still within your budget. Start married life on a solid financial footing with as little debt as possible to help ensure you have many happy years together.

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