Tying the Knot in a Meaningful and Memorable Way (Without Losing Our Savings or Sanity)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Avoiding Wedding Debt

In the months leading up to our wedding, Matt and I were a little stressed about our finances. Although we were only dishing out a mere $2,000 (is "mere $2,000" an oxymoron?), we realized that most of our wedding expenses needed to be paid near the end of our planning time. In other words, all the things we bought up front (my dress, the tablecloths, our invitations, etc.) were the least expensive things in our budget. The more expensive things--alcohol and food--needed to be purchased at the end.

On top of paying for a wedding, we were also trying to save like mad for our house. And even though we picked something relatively small (two-bedroom, one-bath, just over 1,000 square feet), we still needed to fork over $51,000 for our closing (that was 20% of the total cost + thousands of dollars in closing costs).

Combined, our families pitched in $12,000, which left a whopping $39,000 for Matt and me to bring to the table. Holy moly. I'm still stunned when I see that number.

Sometime in the middle of June, we realized we needed to start putting everything on our credit cards. Normally, we avoid this tactic because paying interest feels like an absolute waste of money. If we won't be able to pay for something in full by the time our credit card bill comes, we usually don't buy it.

But desperate times call for desperate measures. We starting putting everything on the cards: gas, food, wedding stuff, plane tickets--oh my!

Our biggest credit card bills just arrived. And, lo and behold, we actually have enough money left in our accounts to pay them off. I still can't believe it.

I only share this saga of ours because it's important to think through the implications of your wedding budget before you actually establish it. Maybe you won't need to buy a house four days after you walk down the aisle, but do you really want to start your life together in debt?

A wedding can cost anything from the price of the marriage license to well above the average cost of $25,000. Despite what the Wedding Industrial Complex tries to make us feel, we really do have a choice.

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1 comment:

Meg said...

I've been away on vacation, so I'm catching up now. This post is interesting because it makes me think about how prices are very regional. We can't even THINK about buying a house until we have $100K for a downpayment, and an average wedding here? $35K. My future brother in law is getting married in Baltamore this year and we have the exact same budget for our wedding. They've had a really relaxed planning process, and feel like they have plenty to spend. We are ripping our hair out, DIYing everything and are still stressing the budget. Goes to show you.

But yes, yes, yes. We always have options. The trick of this planning process is to figure out what is right for you both, which can be hard.

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