How to Save for a Wedding in a Year (or Less)

by Kevin Mercadante

Just how much does the average wedding cost today? $10,000? $20,000? $50,000? In point of fact, a wedding can cost whatever you want it to cost. But if you’re interested in statistics as a means of comparison, the average wedding in America today costs about $27,800 (according to The Knot). That’s a lot of money to save for a wedding!

Saving on Wedding CostsI don’t know if that number has been scientifically arrived at, or if it was embellished by what we might loosely call the wedding industry. Though the exact amount of the average may vary from one part of the country to another, based on what I’ve seen, I think that figure is about right.

If you’re planning to get married in the not-too-distant future, and you’ll largely be paying for your wedding yourself, you’ve got a lot of saving to do between now and then. What are some ways you can save for a wedding in one year – or less? Here are some tips.

1. Live on one paycheck and save the other.

There is a growing trend in couples living together before getting married. If that is your situation, then perhaps the fastest and easiest way to save for your wedding is to bank one paycheck. If you’re already a two income household, you can live on one paycheck and save everything from the other until you reach your goal of paying for your wedding.

If you are not living together then maybe one partner can move back in with family, and save as much of his or her paycheck as possible before the wedding. That isn’t a perfect situation, but it’s a whole lot better than paying for the wedding with credit cards, and then spending years paying them back afterward.

2. Sell everything you can.

If banking a full paycheck is impossible, then you may be able to save part of it and supplement your savings from other sources. One of the best ways is by selling anything that you have that you no longer need (Craigslist is one way to sell items quickly).

This can be even more practical when you consider that you will be combining households with your new spouse and much of what each of you has individually will longer be needed. Exercise equipment, a sound system and even a widescreen TV may no longer be needed once you are married. They can be sold to raise hundreds – and maybe thousands – of dollars that can be used for your wedding.

3. Get additional part-time jobs.

You could also consider each of you getting an extra part-time job. It’s better that you both do it, rather than putting the burden entirely on one. That will reduce the number of hours each of you need to work in order to reach your wedding savings goal.

If each of you take a part-time job working roughly 50 hours per month at $8 per hour, that will represent an income of $400 per month for each of you. Even if $200 goes to taxes, that will be $600 per month, and in one year’s time that will be well over $7,000.

It may not get you all of the money that you need for the wedding you are planning, but it’ll be a big chunk right there.

4. Cut down on the size and cost of your wedding.

If you are planning on a high-end wedding, not expecting to get much help from family, and also pretty sure that you will be unable to save enough money between now and then, you still have one other option. Cut down on the size and cost of your wedding.

That may not be the preferred choice, but you’ll keep yourself out of debt and that may be the wisest choice of all. This is especially true if each of you are bringing student loan debt, credit cards, and car payments into the marriage. Too much debt can doom a marriage, so you might want to opt for a less opulent celebration in the short run in favor of a more successful marriage in the long run.

Since wedding celebrations are so diverse these days, you should be able cut back on – or eliminate – some less critical plans. For example, an obvious first step would be to cut back on the guest list. When it comes to weddings, people often expand the guest list to include second cousins, former neighbors and acquaintances from work. But if you cannot afford it, some of them will have to go.

Other possibilities include having the celebration at a less expensive venue, cutting back on the number of photos or flowers, offering a limited bar, or even having a less expensive honeymoon. Since the possibilities here are endless, you should be able to reduce the cost of your wedding without having to rearrange it completely.

Do you know of other ways to save for a wedding – other than relying on credit or hitting your parents up for a loan? Leave a comment!

Photo Credit: kelly niemann

Published or updated April 29, 2013.
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