How to save your sanity and have a great wedding

She said yes! That means it’s time to plan a wedding, and the first step is to create a budget that everyone can live with happily ever after. The wedding-planning process provides a great opportunity for couples to explore their communication and spending styles as they make crucial decisions together.
According to Joan Montgomery of the Maine Wedding Association, the average Maine wedding budget is $28,000. Whether the special day comes in under that figure or exceeds it depends on the couple.

Who will pay and for what?
Traditionally, the groom’s family paid for the rehearsal dinner while the bride’s family paid for the rest. Today’s couples are marrying later or for the second time and that means the bride and groom will likely foot the bill.

Step one is to be clear about who will pay for what. Discuss — separately — with all stakeholders what they wish to pay for and how much. Instead of asking for an open-ended list of items, ask about a dollar amount so that everyone is clear on the budget. Things may cost more today than they did when your parents got married.

Talk about your wedding vision
Discuss, as a couple, the type of wedding and reception you both want, how much it will cost, and how remaining expenses will be covered. Explore a variety of options and get estimates on everything. Set up a savings plan that allows you to enjoy the Big Day debt free.

Do these percentages match your priorities? Maybe the gown is more important and the flowers less. A less lavish reception could leave wiggle room for more elegant attire or wedding rings. Maybe being thrifty on the attire and flowers will allow for a reception that friends and family will never forget.

After the wedding
The wedding is just one day, and the honeymoon lasts only a week or two. But you will be doing financial planning together far beyond the Big Day.

Sit down before the wedding and talk about post-wedding finances. Everything from where you will live to insurance, beneficiaries, bank accounts, and discretionary spending should be discussed. Deciding on this before you’re wed can be a marriage saver down the line.

There are several online resources and books about wedding/financial planning. Check out “Budget Weddings for Dummies,” by Meg Elaine Schneider, or “Talking Money,” by Jean Chatzky.

With patience, good communication and information, financial planning for the big day, and the life beyond that day, will go just fine.

Based on Montgomery’s average wedding cost ($28,000), here’s where the money usually goes:

  • Reception (location, rentals, food, cake, decorations, beverage, special licenses): 48-50 percent ($13,440-$14,000).
  • Photography/videography: 10-12 percent ($2,800-$3,360).
  • Attire (gown, veil, jewelry, shoes, undergarments, tux rental): 8-10 percent ($2,240-$2,800).
  • Flowers (bouquets, boutonnieres, corsages, centerpieces and decor): 8-10 percent ($2,240-$2,800).
  • Entertainment/music: 8-10 percent ($2,240-$2,800).
  • Miscellaneous (favors, out-of-town bags, tips for vendors, and other must-have items): 8 percent.
  • Ceremony (location, rentals, decorations, special items): 2-3 percent ($560-$840).
  • Stationery (Anything printed): 2-3 percent ($560-$840).
  • Wedding rings (Not including the engagement ring): 2-3 percent ($560-$840).
  • Parking/transportation: 2-3 percent ($560-$840).
  • Gifts (for your wedding party and to each other): 2-3 percent ($560-$840).

Story by Sheila Grant