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How to Have a Wedding Extravaganza on an Average Budget


shutterstock_195027113 (1)It may seem like the entire population is either married or getting married (thanks Facebook), but the marriage rate is actually declining – and to an all-time, historic low. A 2013 study conducted by Bowling Green State University’s National Center for Marriage and Family Research identified that since 1970, the marriage rate dropped by about 60 percent, and by 2012, for every 1,000 unmarried women, only 31 women walked down the aisle. Compare today’s marriage rate of 31.1 to the marriage rate in 1920 (92.3), and the figures show: People just aren’t marrying like they used to. Why?

Perhaps it’s because of horrific Tinder dates. Perhaps it’s due to the increased social acceptance of lived-ins (formally known as co-habitation). Perhaps it’s because of the disheartening romantic failures of “The Bachelorette.” Or perhaps it’s because weddings are expensive, really expensive. The average (and no girl wants to be average) wedding cost $28,427 in 2012, according to TheKnot.com. Expectations are high. Fantasies are extravagant. Brides-to-be are determined to have the wedding of their dreams.

If your dream wedding is about to drown you in debt, here’s how you can avoid creating, or worsening, a massive financial deficit.

Practice Honesty

Let’s be honest because, as we all know, it’s the best policy. One may ask, “Who can afford to get married?” But in actuality, “Who can afford to get divorced?” Is he really the one? The divorce rate is high, and that’s enough to know to question the sanctity of marriage and outside-of-your-means wedding cost.

Ask yourself: Is this a hurried decision? When The Bachelorette‘s Andi Dorfman rejected bachelor Marcus Grodd he went from tears and heartbreak to a new cast member on Bachelor in Paradise. Apparently love is fleeting for many. Would your fiance be devastated if you cut things off? He better be. And as you evaluate your soon-to-be-husband, evaluate your financial resources. If resources are scarce, you may have to be brutally honest, lower expectations and even settle;a tough reality. Life is rough.

Explore Your Financial Resources

You’ve decided he is the one. But if sacrificing your dream wedding sounds like the tragedy of the century, explore these financial resources.

  • Use Points: Eliminate certain expenses by paying with frequent-flyer miles and reward points from credit cards, hotels and traveling. Could family offer you their points as well?
  • Research All-Inclusive Resorts: Cut costs (and stress) by planning a wedding at an all-inclusive beach resort such as The Royal Lahaina Resort in Maui, Hawaii, or Casa Marina Resort in Key West, Florida. Since you’re already in an exotic locale to get hitched, you can extend the wedding into the honeymoon and save on extra traveling expenses.
  • Borrow: Borrow components of the wedding (dress, decorations, etc.) from a close friend or family member. Not only will borrowing save you money, it creates a warm sentiment.
  • Raise Cash Upfront: Sell any furniture, exercise equipment or collectibles you no longer use. If you receive regular payments from a structured settlement or annuity, consider selling your future payments to J.G. Wentworth for a lump sum of cash now. You could also sell any stocks and bonds you might hold.
  • Negotiate: Don’t be afraid to bargain, from the venue to the band or DJ. “It never hurts to ask… for a lower price” is a great motto to keep while learning about rates.

DIY & Get Crafty

As the wedding expenses add up, don’t fall into a spending vortex. The champagne upgrade and favors extras may not seem extravagant, but they quickly add up to more than you’d probably like to imagine. Rein in your wedding spending and get crafts-y. With a little bit of ingenuity, you can not only save money, but create a one-of-a-kind, personalized celebration.

For example, if you’ve had to settle on a dress that was more aligned to your budget, sew in a gorgeous fabric from a tablecloth or dress to give it unique flair without adding an extra zero to its overall cost. For more budget-friendly DIY wedding inspiration, check out Rustic Wedding Chic.


Abby Terlecki

About the author: Abby Terlecki

Abby Terlecki sees herself as one of those creative writer-types who always prefers to tell stories with her keyboard than through her mouth. When Abby's not writing freelance articles, text messages, to-do lists, or CrossFit scores, she's practicing her craft as a full-time writer for a marketing agency in Phoenix, Arizona.

Abby has written 2 articles for us.

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