Budgets, Weddings, & Prenups Oh My!

Brent Pittman —  02/07/2012

Are you squirreling away for your wedding?

A wedding is a huge deal. It’s most likely the biggest party you’ll throw for youself. Women already know this and ya’ll have been thinking about your wedding since you could blink your long eyelashes.

Guys, we’ll has it even crossed your mind what your wedding will be like or how much it could cost? Parents have been thinking about your wedding and might have even saved a good bit for their daughter’s big day. Let’s hope so!

Wait? Save up? Yep, weddings can get fairly pricy. The Knot puts the average wedding at $27,800. Wow!

How Much Should a Wedding Cost?

Before we talk about how much a wedding should cost. You should look at what you can afford. Many of us won’t be able to afford a $27K wedding, nor could we even imagine such.

  • Rule #1 don’t go into debt for your wedding. Debt is stressful and your first year of marital bliss isn’t always so blissful. Putting debt and marriage together isn’t a good recipe for your first year of marriage. Follow this rule and you’ll be off to a good start.
  • Make a budget-Determine what kind of money the bride’s parents have been squirreling away or how much money you’ll put into the wedding. (sample Wedding Budget) Determine what you’ll spend together and stick to it or make adjustments so it equals 0. No debt nor putting your parents into debt.
  • Make Sacrifices- If you are doing a budget on a dime, then you’re going to have to make certain sacrifices. This will be easy for the guys, but ladies might have to give up some life-long dreams. Gents, be patient.
  • Do it yourself and get help- You’ll have to do some things yourself if you want to pull off a wedding under budget. We did the flowers ourselves, had friends and family help with pictures and videography. We strung up lights on the outside pavilion a few days before. I could go on, but you get the idea.
So how much should a wedding cost? Far less than you can afford. You can have ‘magic’ and memories without the financial strain if you work together and have a plan.

Our Wedding

My wife and I (along with a ton of help from friends and family) pulled off our wedding for less than $5,000. We had a budget of the money we had to work with and we had to negotiate, bargain, and do it ourselves to get a great wedding.

Each week we had a budget and planning meeting to see where we were at.

Our honeymoon and her engagement ring was paid for with my cashing out my 401k (I’ll tell that story another day). Rehearsal dinner was paid for by my parents per good ole’ southern tradition and home cookin’.

It wasn’t a small wedding either. I think close to 200 people came and even ate appetizers for that amount. The most expensive item was the photographer since we wanted the CD and rights to our pictures.

Prenuptial Agreements

This is a touchy subject and many of you won’t even have to deal with this topic. If you are dealing with prenuptial agreements, this topic could be a deal breaker for moving forward with your potential spouse.

What is it? A prenuptial is basically a legal document that determines what will happen to property and money in the even of a divorce. Romantic right? Here is a more legal explanation if you want to read here.

So do you need one? Probably not. If you are wealthy or own a successful business ($ 1 million +) or will be wealthy (your last name is Zuckerburg or Vanderbilt) then you should have a prenuptial agreement in place.

Why? Both you and your potential spouse might live happily ever after, but being wealthy attracts a lot of fruit cakes and distant relatives. You don’t want them ruining your wedding bliss or causing division.

For the rest of us, there isn’t much reason to get a prenup. In fact it could be a red flag that signals future problems (additional red flags). The only exception might be 2nd marriages or having children from a previous marriage.

What was your wedding budget and did you stick to it? Any thoughts on Prenups? 

[This is part of the Premarital Financial Series]

Photo credit John K

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Brent Pittman

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Brent is a financial coach and writer looking for the perfect donut. He believes personal finance should be both fun and accessible to anyone willing to learn.