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Wedding Savings Guide for Parents and Brides

Updated on January 6, 2012
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Keith Schroeder writes The Wealthy Accountant blog with 30 years experience in the tax field. He is the tax adviser of Mr. Money Mustache.

Saving on a Wedding (Funny, Yet Serious)

Most people spend more time planning the wedding than planning the marriage. --Zig Ziglar

Blushing Bride

Mrs. Tax
Mrs. Tax

In my part of the world it is traditional for the bride’s parents to pay for the reception dinner; the groom’s parent’s for the hall and beer; and the lovely couple pay the rest. The Wall Street Journal reports that the average wedding costs $28,000, more than half the median U.S. household income. No wonder it takes a team effort to pay for the bill.

Saving for a wedding is really a two part process. There is the saving of money by the engaged and parents of the engaged; then there is the saving on the wedding itself so we do not become prey to Zig Ziglar’s warning. Planning the wedding and marriage should happen at the same time. The marriage can be as beautiful as the wedding.

Saving For a Wedding—Parents

Parents have the luxury of planning further in advance. You may want your daughter to have a massive wedding and are willing to pay for it. By starting early it takes smaller savings per month to accumulate the desired goal. A large family can add to a wedding’s cost with meals running $20 or more in many locations. In rural areas meals run less, maybe $14 at best. Still a large sum when invited guests reach into the hundreds.

Saving on the Wedding—Parents

Not every idea if for everyone, but I still think a meal served buffet style is best and it saves on the total meal cost. In warmer climates and in the summer up north, consider an outdoor wedding with a large tent for the dance area. This is becoming more popular here in Wisconsin. A nearby dance hall capitalizes on this trend by conducting many of their summer weddings in a tent in the parking lot. It has a different feel. The informal atmosphere seems to reduce the stress of the wedding party.

Saving For a Wedding—Brides

Parents sometimes have the luxury of a lifetime of savings to rely upon for wedding expenses. Brides do not. Saving for a wedding is a large commitment. The longer you wait to start saving, the more you will need to save each month to reach your goal. Remember, many items need to be paid for in advance of the wedding or at least require a deposit.

The sooner you start saving the easier it is. Here is a table that outlines how much you need to save each month for your wedding, depending how soon you start saving. The table assumes you plan on getting married at age 27.

Saving For a Wedding

Your Age
Months Until Wedding
Amount Needed to Save Each Month

Saving on the Wedding—Brides

Your wedding day is special. Consider your mother’s or grandmother’s wedding dress, if available. The wedding dress is a major expense. But it is not the cost of the dress that makes it special, it is the meaning. Taking your vows in the same dress your mother said her vows in is truly special. The cost of altercations is less than a new dress. Now if mom will stop crying.

Invitation costs are out of control. The real cost to print a wedding invitation is relatively small per invitation. The print shops know you are under stress and sell the idea that their invitations are perfect for you at several dollars per invitation. Shop multiple print shops for the best price. Better yet, if you can the computer technology already in your home, print your own.

There are other items on the wedding list. The dress, meal, hall, and invitations are the largest. Other expenses, like the photographer and flowers, add to the total bill. The goal is to reduce the total cost of the wedding without taking away any of the special. It can be done.

Planning the Marriage

Planning the wedding and the marriage should take place at the same time. In fact, planning for the marriage should begin before you even meet that special someone. After the expenses of the wedding drain the coffers, it is time to think about everyday living. Regular bills like rent, utilities, food, and transportation need to be accounted for. Most people realize this and plan accordingly. However, there are those little budget busting expenses that put stress on the marriage from day one. You need pots and pans in the kitchen, furniture, and linens.

The hope chest in the best idea handed down through the centuries. You can begin gathering the day-to-days necessities while still in high school. Linens and a set of dishes (China anyone?) are a good gift requests. Buy an item on discount and put it in the hope chest. These things never go to waste. You will eventually need the linens, pans, and dishes anyway.

Heed Zig Ziglar’s advice and plan the marriage as well as the wedding. Both are beautiful events. Take it from a man married for 22 years: Live a marriage that gets better everyday, remember and reminisce about the wedding day. My bride and I still take the VHS cassette (remember those) of our wedding day off the shelf now and again. Wow! Was I nervous. I am sure glad my bride had everything under control.


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    • sharmanlow profile image

      sharmanlow 6 years ago

      tips are wonderful. i probably need to share this to my daughter.