Couple Horrified by BillsYou know weddings can be expensive, right? You plan to avoid a cash crunch by establishing your wedding budget early in the process, except you still spend more than you bargained. Your carefully constructed $12,000 spending plan falls by the wayside as you reach and pass the $24,000 mark. Or $34,000. Or $44,000. You get the idea. Fortunately, you can follow some great advice to nip this problem in the bud before it starts.

The True Cost of Weddings in the United States

Like everything else, the cost of weddings has slowly risen over the last several years. Yet you may be surprised that the average wedding now prices out at over $44,000. Brides writer Andrea Park revealed that this was the mean cost from 2018, significantly higher than 2017’s average of $27,000. While budget category breakdowns remained the same, the expenses in each category increased sharply. For instance, the amount spent on flowers more than doubled from $1,274 to $2,629.

You’re Not Overspending, You’re Budgeting Wrong

In Brides’ 2018 American Wedding Study, more than half the couples surveyed admitted to going over budget. However, extravagant spending may not be the only root cause of this problem. As Wedding Wire’s Kim Forrest explains, many couples make the common mistake of setting their event budgets too low. The typical scenario may go a little like this:

  1. The couple decides on what they believe is a reasonable budget: for example, $15,000.
  2. While shopping for vendors and items, they discover prices to be more expensive than they’d imagined.
  3. Believing that they’re limited by available options, they choose their professionals and products.
  4. They pull funding from other sources: credit cards, family members, loans against their 401(k) plans, and so forth.

As seen from this hypothetical situation, one key problem is drawing up a budget before researching costs. Without knowing the going rates, you’re likely to underestimate your spending and then end up surprised when you shop later.

Budgeting Basics and Practical Pointers

ValuePenguin estimates median nationwide wedding costs at $29,858, but that’s still higher than the typical $16,000 that couples assume they’ll pay. The writers also mention that the average cost of weddings varies by state and region. A Manhattan affair could easily surpass $85,000, while Mississippians may only fork out around $13,000. However, you won’t necessarily get any breaks in a low-cost area. Many vendors price their services with a sense for what their local markets can handle.

Don’t forget that your total expenses are also made up of individual categories. The Knot breaks down a standard wedding budget. Reception costs make up almost half, while photo and video services comprise around 12% of expenses. Other large items include attire, flowers, and entertainment, with each category making up around 10% of the wedding budget. Miscellaneous costs total 8%, and the ceremony, rings, stationery, transportation, and gifts occupy around 3% each. 

This data proves that you need information before devising a cost-effective strategy. Your first step should be finding out the typical wedding costs in your area. Many wedding websites offer vendor search tools that let you narrow down options by price range, but you can always request quotes as well. Also, remember to estimate expenses in each individual category. If your event’s desired maximum is $16,000, your photography and videography would cost $1,920 if you use The Knot’s wedding budget breakdown.

Plan Smart To Wed Smart

You created your wedding budget with good intentions, but you won’t follow it if you don’t plan successfully. Don’t give up the idea of establishing an upper spending limit, but only research will help you determine if you’ve decided on a feasible figure. Doing your homework before setting a budget in stone can help you avoid surprises.

Category: Wedding Planning

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