For many couples, their wedding is one of the most expensive events in their life, which is understandable – after all, you want to celebrate your love with your friends and family, and create an experience you'll never forget.
But figuring out how to pay for all the different aspects of the event can cause a lot of stress and tension during what should be a really enjoyable time. So how can you tackle wedding expense stress head on, so you can focus on the fun things?
Figure out your non-negotiables
Every couple – and each member of a couple – will have different things that are more important to them than all the other aspects of the wedding. Is it all about the dress for you? Maybe you're set on a certain location? Other people might be focused on the food, or the perfect flower extravaganza. Have an honest discussion about the areas you would least want to compromise on when it comes to setting a budget – that doesn't mean you won't have to compromise at all, but it's important your partner knows what you value.
Discuss how much each of you will contribute, and have honest discussions with your family
Long gone are the days when the bride's father paid for everything. Many modern couples like to take on the lion's share of wedding expenses, but before you go any further with your planning, you should discuss how much you each feel comfortable contributing, and what you can reasonably budget to put away each month. This is not the time to be overly optimistic – if after all your expenses each month, you can only put away a few hundred dollars, be honest with each other about that.
It's a good idea to have the conversation about familial contributions early, too. Will your families be able to contribute at all, and if so, how much? Will both families contribute evenly?
Get a rough idea of when you want to get married
Knowing when you want to get married will help you figure out how long you have to save, and how much you'll have to work with. If you have a specific date in mind, work your budget out towards that date, and try to find venues within your budget and to your liking that are available on that date. If you have a specific venue in mind, you'll be a bit more limited by their availability.
Speak with people who've already tied the knot
If you've been to a wedding that featured elements you really enjoyed, don't be afraid to ask the bride and groom for their insights on how much things cost. Many newly engaged couples find themselves shocked at just how much things seem to cost once the word 'wedding' is involved. And married couples remember what this feels like – most of them will gladly offer their advice and insights on vendors and costs.
Build an overall budget, but make sure you have an emergency fund
You will be amazed at how many expenses come up that you probably hadn't considered. Check online for wedding budget planners to help you make sure you cover off all your potential costs, and start to break down your overall budget accordingly. Don't forget that some things will need to be paid for upfront, or in instalments and you'll need access to cash ready to pay these or risk losing a vendor.
It's also wise to put aside a healthy amount of money to cover unforeseen costs you hadn't considered, or to deal with any emergencies. It will help keep you calm if these costs come up, and if you don't use the money you'll have a nice little nest egg at hand for the honeymoon!
Consider alternative ways to finance the upfront costs
Because of the number of upfront costs that can mean you need access to a lot of cash early on in the planning process – for example, deposits on locations or other big-ticket vendors like catering – a personal loan can be an easy way to ensure you have ready access to the cash you need during the planning process, while you are working your savings plan in the background to make repayments on the loan as you go.