First comes love, then comes marriage, which includes wedding expenses . . .

Let’s face it: Getting married is not cheap. According to a recent study, weddings cost an average of $35,329 nationally.

As you begin to ponder all-important decisions about your dress, floral arrangements, cake fillings, photographer, food, music etc. be realistic and take a step back to decide how much you can really afford to spend on your big day. Before you lock in the final details of your wedding day, prioritize which elements are most important to you.

Certainly, it can be tough reaching a compromise as you prepare your guest list and plan your menu and your venue, the dress you would absolutely love to wear for your walk down the aisle, the band you want to play at your wedding. Don’t feel obligated to please others or feel tied to old-fashioned etiquette. You’re not obligated to spend that much, and many couples don’t. Set a reasonable budget and cut costs on some of the most expensive elements of your nuptials. After all, you do not want to start your marriage in debt.

Unlike days past, where the bride’s family would take care of the full cost of the ceremony and reception with the groom picking up the cost of the rings and the honeymoon, today it is more likely that you and your other half are jointly footing the bill, or splitting the costs three ways between your families and you as a couple.

A financial conversation, although sometimes tough and uncomfortable to have, is important so that you as a couple will know exactly what your capacity is, how much you can work with, and how much each will need to contribute to make the wedding happen. It also opens the door for the couple to talk about post- wedding matters like shared or separate checking accounts and life insurance, among other matters.

First off, take a careful look at what aspects of your wedding will cost you the most and decide which areas mean the most to you so you can allocate your funds accordingly.

Create a budget worksheet to include the following:

Wedding coordinator


Wedding rings


Wedding gown and accessories (veil, slip, shoes, undergarments)

Wedding gown alterations 

Hair and makeup 

Bridesmaids’ gifts 

Bridesmaids’ luncheon


Groom’s attire and accessories

Groomsmen’s gifts

Officiant’s fee



Prenuptial agreement

Rehearsal dinner

Wedding cake

Wedding day transportation

Wedding favors

Ceremony and rehearsal music


Invitations and stationery

Marriage license

Medical tests

Wedding night suite

Write down who will pay for what and the estimated costs of each item. Visit possible locations to compare prices and make sure to include sales tax, gratuities, and overtime fees to your estimates. Ask about payment policies and deposits required to lock in your dates. Make sure to get all details in writing and have the vendors include the dates, times, prices, and descriptions of all services they will provide.

Wedding budgets generally get divided as such:

Reception: 40%

Honeymoon: 15%

Photography/Videography: 10%

Bridal Apparel: 8%

Engagement/wedding rings: 7%

Music: 5%

Flowers: 5%

Invitations: 2%

Miscellaneous (attendants’ gifts, rehearsal dinner, ceremony fees, transportation, etc.): 8%

In my book, Your Bridal Style: Everything You Need to Know to Design the Wedding of Your Dreams I list twenty-five smart tips on how you can save on costs as you plan your wedding. Here are some of them:

Skip Saturday: This is the most popular and expensive day for weddings. To save money, consider holding your wedding on a Sunday, or even a weeknight instead.

Consider the morning or afternoon: You’ll be able to save on the menu as morning and afternoon weddings call for lighter, less expensive fare.

Choose a less popular month: You’ll usually pay a higher price for a venue during the most popular seasons: spring and summer. Consider a winter wedding instead, like January or February, months when you could easily score a discount.

Negotiate the venue’s resources: Unexpected expenses can pop up, including corkage fees, cake- cutting, and power for your DJ and photo booth. Some venues charge for the rental of tables and linens if you opt for a backyard wedding. If you find this unreasonable, ask that these line items be removed. Read the venue’s contract in its entirety before signing.

Have your officiant perform your ceremony at the reception: This option will help you avoid paying for an additional location fee and save your guests the travel.

Purchase your gown online or during a sale: There are more gowns available now than ever before, and you have plenty of options to find a gorgeous dress you can afford. Browse online to purchase, or ask the bridal store in your area when they’re having a sale or a trunk show during which times designers offer incentives and special pricing.

Wedding rings: Note that 14-karat gold bands are less expensive than 18-karat gold, and white gold can provide the same look as platinum for a lot less. 

Something borrowed: Rather than purchasing your accessories, such as veil, jewelry, and shoes, borrow these items from friends and family.

Choose in-season blooms: You can save a bundle by picking flowers that are in season at the time of your wedding. Note that loose-cut flowers are less expensive than sculpted centerpieces; hand-tied stems are more affordable than carefully constructed bouquets; and larger flowers naturally look fuller and take up more space with fewer stems.

Starting your marriage in debt is always the wrong thing to do, so don’t get talked into spending more than you can afford. Don’t cave in to vendor attempts to upsell you.

Make adjustments and cut out unnecessary expenses in the months leading to the wedding so you can bulk up your savings.

Above all, be realistic when planning your budget. Set realistic spending limits from the very beginning that account for all areas of your wedding. If you overspend in one area, cut back in another and keep adjusting to stay within your budget.

Say “I don’t” to debt.

Above is an excerpt from Your Bridal Style: Everything You Need to Design the Wedding of Your Dreams.

© Rani St. Pucchi, 2018

Rani St. Pucchi is an award-winning Couture Fashion Designer, a Style & Image Consultant, and a Relationship Expert. She is a Bestselling Author, an Inspirational Speaker, and a Success Coach and Trainer. Her recent TEDx talk: Is Your Body Image Holding You Back has received worldwide acclaim. Rani’s #1 International Bestselling Books, Your Body, Your Style: Simple Tips on Dressing to Flatter Your Body Type ; The SoulMate Checklist: Keys to Finding Your Perfect Partner; and Your Bridal Style: Everything You Need to Know to Design the Wedding of Your Dreams are available on Amazon and at Barnes & Nobles.

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