Friday, May 06, 2011

30 days of Smart Money Choices -- Weddings

According to The Wedding Report, the average cost of an American wedding increased 22.9% in 2010, from $19,581 (2009) to $24,066. This is actually conservative compared to other articles I've read. Yet, many families I know have organised lovely weddings for a fraction of this cost.

When it comes to getting married, taking a honeymoon, and establishing that first place a couple will live, these things are an opportunity to spend money according to priorities. One couple might place a high priority on the wedding ceremony, while another may put more into the honeymoon, and still another save for future married life. One bride may place a high priority on the wedding dress, while another is more concerned about the cake and flowers. Deciding what a couple's priorities are requires a lot of communication between the bride and groom, as well as between the bride and her family and the groom and his. Deciding how to fit those priorities into the actual budget for the wedding requires communication, as well.

The bride, especially, will need to know what her wedding budget is and where she wants to place her funds. Knowing when to splurge and when to save can save a lot of headaches.

Of course, a wedding is generally one of the most special occasions in a family's life. Because weddings are so joyful, the Bible uses wedding imagery to help us understand something of what the wonders of heaven are like. However, young couples, especially the brides, should remember that after the wedding comes the marriage. After years of wedded bliss, some of the things that seem so important to you when planning your wedding will not be the things you happily remember of your wedding day. It's not necessary to spend lavishly on the wedding ceremony or honeymoon in order to celebrate the beginning of a wonderful, life long relationship. Many a happy marriage began with the simplest of weddings.

Not only should you think about your financial wedding budget, you should also think about your time budget, as well. Too many brides exhaust themselves trying to have the perfect wedding. (There is no such thing!) Some brides like this begin their married life in a state of nervous exhaustion instead of peaceful joy. Better to err on the side of simplicity and be freer to enjoy your wedding and first days of your marriage than to be consumed with details that drive you and your family and your beloved groom to distraction. It all depends on what you can personally manage. Tame the Bridezilla within you!

Today, many people wait until they are somewhat older to get married. Weddings between two people who have worked and have savings to add to the contribution of the brides parents are often featured in bridal magazines and other media. Couples who marry at younger ages and who have not each worked for very long will have smaller budgets and will be more dependent on the parents' budget. They will do well to remember that they do not have to compete with media images of the perfect wedding.

In fact, a couple should avoid comparing their wedding to that of any other couple. It is their special day. The important thing is that they are establishing a life together, not that they live up to someone else's special day. A couple who begins their marriage with contentment, faith, and joy will have a lovely day no matter what.

Here are seven tips for arranging a wedding within a budget:

1) Thirty years after my wedding day, I still have my wedding gown and intend to keep it unless someone should ever want to be married in my now old-fashioned dress. However, a bride in our family was not as sentimental about keeping her dress, and she sold it after her wedding. This is a way to re-coup some wedding costs. Another option if you are not attached to keeping your dress is to rent a dress. Yes! There are places that will rent you beautiful dresses for a fraction of the cost of buying one. If you do want to buy and keep your dress, do a cost comparison of buying one verses having someone sew it, particularly if a seamstress in your circle of family and friends will do the sewing for free. My mother-in-law married back in the era when tea-length gowns were fashionable, and she made her own dress. Later on, when she needed a dress for an occasion and her clothing budget as a newly wed was tight, she died her wedding gown and wore it! Her husband -- my father-in-law -- did not recognise at first that she was wearing the same dress, because she had made it look new.
2) A current custom among some is to have two dresses: one for the wedding and one for the reception immediately afterward. You have only a short time to be in your wedding gown. Think carefully before deciding that you really do want two gowns. You will get more enjoyment out of your wedding gown and save money on wedding costs by wearing your wedding dress all the way through the reception. Of course, you may want a less formal going-away outfit or a second dress for a party that will be given at another time or on another date than your wedding. However, if you choose wisely, these outfits will be something that you will wear again and again.
3) Chances are great that if you are getting married, someone you know either just had a wedding or is also planning one. Check into borrowing items or sharing items or buying bulk items together.
4) Vintage wedding rings can be re-set and are often a less expensive and more beautiful purchase than a brand new ring.
5) If you are getting married in your home city and in the church you usually attend, you fill likely know many women who have planned weddings in that building and/or reception hall if you are using the church reception hall. Usually, there are even a few women who take on the ministry of helping brides prepare for their weddings. Take advantage of their advice.
6) Create a folder or a notebook in which you can keep your wedding plans, as well as pictures or notes for wedding ideas. Often, you can take an idea that you see in a magazine or on a wedding web site or at a wedding and re-produce something similar for less expense. Be sure to visit web sites that offer example of budget weddings.
7) Many of us start planning our weddings when we are little girls and have definite ideas about what we want. While we may be able to incorporate many of our dreams into our actual wedding, we may have to be flexible about others. It's more important that you are marrying the love of your life than that you are creating a dream wedding.


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