Local experts give tips to keep your wedding budget from getting out of hand
By Scott Unger
Although weddings are known as the happiest day in a couple’s lives, those who don’t adequately plan financially may be left with big regrets after their big day.
Knowing what you want out of your wedding and how it will be paid for in advance is the biggest key to avoiding this, according to Weddings From the Heart planner Jean Neuhart.
“Have a budget, have a dollar amount in mind,” Neuhart says.
Once that budget is in mind, add 10 percent, says Anderson Financial Strategies President Shon Anderson. “(Couples) should be aware that service providers know that they can charge a premium for weddings—and they do!” Anderson says.
Determining where the money is coming from is another important strategy, says Neuhart.
According to Neuhart, paying for the big day on credit is rarely the answer, however, as the typical wedding costs approximately $30,000 and that kind of debt can put newlyweds in a big hole. “You don’t want to start off with your marriage with $30,000 on your credit card,” she says.
Glamorous Weddings owner Michelle Miskell says wedding options can quickly get out of control and it is important for couples to prioritize their needs when planning.
“Once you’ve set a budget, list most important to least important (things) and work your way down the list,” Miskell says. “Having a videographer may be important to one couple and they spend a decent percentage on that, another couple may feel the entertainment is more important and book a band instead of a DJ.”
Anderson recommends a “daily debrief” by couples to make sure finances are on the right track.
“Financial experts know that more frequent tracking leads to better results, plus it will help the couple talk more easily about money and avoid having expenses build up, which may be a cause of confrontation,” he says.
Sometimes attempts to save money through do-it-yourself crafts and decorations can add more expenses inadvertently, says Neuhart.
“Know your limits,” she says. “There’s a fine line between what to DIY and what not to DIY.” While you can find cheap vases at discount stores, couples should think twice before committing to making their own invitations or flower arrangements, Neuhart says. “You don’t want it to end up looking like craft time.”
Planners are split on the concept of wedding insurance. Neuhart says insurance is a solid purchase for a big wedding or to ease the stress of anything that might go wrong.
Obtaining liability insurance is preferable over cancellation insurance because if something goes wrong it can cost the couple big time, while most vendors have reasonable terms in the event of a cancellation, according to Anderson.
Miskell says hiring the right planner should alleviate worries and The Event Connections Director of Operations Greg Cowger says wedding insurance is only necessary if you’re planning an outdoor ceremony with no back-up plan.
Money would be better spent on an independent wedding coordinator, according to Miskell, because venue coordinators are there for the venue, not to make sure everything is perfect for your big day.
“The venue coordinator is there for the venue and its staff. They don’t usually place the table linens, confirm your vendors have arrived or tear down at night,” says Miskell.
Other purchases couples overlook include dress alterations, paying for the marriage license, honeymoon costs and financial issues unrelated to the big day, according to the planners.
For Dayton weddings, couples should spend time deciding on the wedding and reception venues and can also utilize community resources to recoup some of the money spent on the big day, planners say.
There are several online groups where brides can resell used items or they can donate to Goodwill for a tax write-off, according to Neuhart.
Because the venue is the single biggest expense, couples should take time picking out the right setting, says Cowger.
“Dayton has a lot of great venues for wedding receptions,” Miskell says. “I would encourage couples who are still looking for a reception site to choose one that is close to a hotel that offers a shuttle for guests.”
Regardless of choices, couples should be as prepared financially as they are to spend the rest of their lives together, according to Anderson.
“Getting married is a very exciting time in a couple’s lives. Just be careful to not let that excitement steamroll your budget,” he says. “The happiest and longest lasting marriages are ones that have a solid financial foundation.”