People Are Still Spending Too Much on Their Weddings

By Emily Guy Birken on 3 April 2017 0 comments

How much should it cost to get married?

According to the most recent Real Weddings Study by The Knot, couples in 2016 spent an average of $35,329 on their weddings — and that figure does not include the cost of the honeymoon.

Considering the fact that $35K could make for a nice down payment on a house, or could buy a fully-loaded, brand new Honda Accord, or could pay for a few semesters of college, it's fair to argue that people are spending too much on their weddings. But how do you avoid the high costs of wedding planning? (See also: How to Save $5,000 Off Your Wedding Expenses)

Here's what you can do about trimming those costs for your own nuptials.

Breaking down wedding costs

A full breakdown of how couples allot their wedding budgets can help you figure out where you want to spend your money and where you are comfortable pinching pennies. (See also: 5 Big Ticket Wedding Items You Should Borrow Instead of Buy)

The venue

This is generally the largest expense for couples, costing an average of $16,107. It is possible to lower the cost of the venue without sacrificing any of the beauty or elegance that caught your eye in the first place.

Get married on a weekday

A dear friend of mine saved 80 percent off the cost of her preferred venue — a historic house in Boston — by getting married on a Monday. This choice also helped them to have a smaller and more intimate wedding, since not everyone was able to attend a weekday wedding. They got the small wedding they wanted, and were able to trim costs. Even if you can't schedule a weekday wedding, choosing a Friday night or Sunday afternoon wedding time can save you money.

Get married out of season

Venues offer discounts for bridal couples who get married during the slower times of year, which generally include: January, February, and March.

Have your ceremony and reception in the same place

This not only saves you the additional cost of the ceremony site (which cost an average of $2,197 in 2016) as well as transportation costs, but your out-of-town guests will also appreciate not having to navigate their way to two different unfamiliar locations.

The engagement ring

I still remember the commercials I saw as a child that asked, "How else can two months' salary last a lifetime?" That question was asked (and answered) by the De Beers company, and it made the idea of spending two months' salary on an engagement ring the standard requirement for a marrying couple.

Which helps explain why the second largest wedding expense is the engagement ring, at an average cost of $6,163. Marketing by the De Beers company has clearly done its job. (See also: 12 Money Saving Tricks for Engagement Rings)

But engagement rings (and wedding rings) are a new phenomenon, and there is no need to feel like you are bucking tradition by choosing not to spend money on one. If you do want to mark your engagement by putting a ring on it, there are some great engagement ring options to choose from without spending a fortune.

Use a family ring

Many families pass engagement rings from one generation to the next, but the family ring you use does not have to be a diamond engagement ring in order to be meaningful and beautiful. Any jewel that your grandmother or mother would like to see passed along to your fiancee could be the perfect engagement ring. (See also: Where to Get Secondhand Engagement Rings)

Choose a non-diamond gemstone

There are many different types of gems out there in a variety of colors, and they tend to be much cheaper than diamonds, in addition to being unique and gorgeous.

Select a knot or Claddagh ring style

Knot rings are a lovely symbol of two people joining together, and they generally do not include a gemstone. Similarly, Claddagh rings are traditional Irish symbols that represent pledging vows.

See also: 7 Frugal, Fabulous Alternatives to the Diamond Engagement Ring

The dress

There is no getting around the fact that wedding dresses are expensive. The average bride in 2016 spent $1,564 on her wedding dress. To reduce wedding dress costs, consider the following options.

Rent your wedding dress

Many dress rental companies now offer bridal rentals, which allow you to have all of the designer chic for a fraction of the cost.

Purchase a secondhand wedding dress

Not all brides keep their dresses forever, and new brides can find their perfect gown on sites like preownedweddingdresses.com.

Think outside the bridal section

You can find gorgeous white dresses in the formal section of department stores. Since these aren't marketed as wedding dresses, they tend to be much cheaper.

See also: 7 Smart Ways to Save on a Wedding Dress

The photographer and videographer

It's important to record your special day with photographs and/or a video of your vows. However, professional photographers and videographers tend to be expensive, costing an average of $2,783 and $1,995, respectively, in 2016.

However, it is possible to get professional photos and videos of your special day without paying the professional-level prices.

Find a student photographer at a local art school

This was how my husband and I saved on the cost of our photographer. We posted an ad for a photography student at the local art college, and had a chance to look through the portfolios of several students. We loved the photos that we got of our wedding day, and we saved 50% off the cost of a professional wedding photographer.

Ask for an off-peak discount

If you are getting married on a weekday or off-season, ask your photographer for a discount. Presumably, he or she would not be working on your non-traditional wedding date otherwise.

Ask for referral discounts

Wedding photography and videography are word-of-mouth businesses, which means you might be able to score a referral discount on your own wedding photos and video if you refer your vendors to friends who are also getting married.

Reception music

Couples who danced to live bands at their 2016 wedding receptions paid an average of $4,156, while brides and grooms who opted for DJs paid an average of $1,245. Here are some ways to bring down the cost of getting down on the dance floor.

Follow your preferred entertainer's social media

Bands and DJs will often have special discounts for their followers, which you can take advantage of for your wedding.

Find local talent

Hire student musicians from a local music school.

DIY the playlist

This will only work if your venue comes with a top quality sound system, but you could potentially whip up a wedding playlist on your laptop or mp3 player and just plug it into the sound system. Make sure you ask a charismatic friend to play MC for the night, since a DJ's job is also about introducing people and events at the reception.

You don't have to go into debt for your wedding

Just because the average cost of a wedding has been going up doesn't mean that your wedding day has to be expensive. Find creative ways to make your wedding unique and memorable, instead of settling for the average wedding's hefty price tag. (See also: Alternative Wedding Ideas for Big Savings)

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