The cost of saying "I do" is on the rise, reaching an all-time high of almost $30 thousand. Findings from The Knot's 2013 survey indicated that couples spent an average of $29,858 on their wedding - up five percent from 2012. While the number of weddings affected by the economy has decreased steadily since 2009, expectations are becoming more ornate. The Knot also found that approximately one in eight couples spent more than $40 thousand on their wedding, and nearly one in four didn't have a budget.
Today's brides are looking to Pinterest and styled shoots for inspiration. Details that weren't as popular or necessary in the past are now a main component of most weddings - photo booths, dessert bars, etc. After discovering vintage rentals, modern brides can't resist the sudden need for lounge seating. Take one look at Amy Osaba's romantic style of floral design and you'll swoon - nothing less will ever do.
When adding up all the décor options and vendors needed to orchestrate the big day, brides often experience some sticker shock. Thankfully, there are ways to incorporate your favorite elements and pull off your dream wedding without breaking the bank.
Finance your nuptials with a wedding loan
If planning to pay for your wedding with your credit card, or your parents insist on helping you out despite the fact that they aren't in the best position to, wedding loans prevail as a viable option. Because running up your charge card could cost you ungodly amounts in interest, and the strain placed on others paying for the big day can be monetarily crippling, wedding financing can help you plan a financially stress-free and stunning wedding.
LightStream offers wedding financing with low, fixed-interest rates of 5.99 percent APR on loan amounts from $5 thousand to $100 thousand. Allowing you to finance your wedding and honeymoon flexibly with no fees, down payments or early repayment penalties, the funds can arrive to your bank account as early as the same day of your application submission. And for green brides, the loan is virtually paperless - a tree will even be planted for every loan funded.
While this option isn't for everyone as for any loan, you will need solid credit to be approved, those that take advantage of wedding loans are often pleased with the ease it offers, as well as the fact that they don't have to sacrifice what they really want on their wedding day.
Crowdfunding your honeymoon
Many soon-to-be brides and grooms of today have either lived by themselves or with each other before tying the knot. This means they typically already have the traditional items most would see on a wedding registry list - pots and pans, glassware, etc. Because of this, many are "registering" for their honeymoon. Who really needs a blender that bad when you can register for a candlelit dinner on the beach instead?
Kristina Kintner of All About Honeymoons specializes in planning travel arrangements for honeymoons and destination weddings, but she also helps couples register for their honeymoon. Once couples pick the destination, an online profile is set up in their name that features their selected excursions and activities. If the couple chooses swimming with the dolphins for example, guests can go to their website and fund the excursion as an alternative to the traditional wedding gift.
Guests can upgrade you to a night in a romantic honeymoon suite, pay for surfing lessons, massages, a night on the town, dinner on the beach - the list goes on. And depending on the destination spot you choose, the options vary according to the available offerings. Here's an example of a honeymoon registry! And don't worry, if your dinner on the beach gets rained out, or you're just not up for one of the adventures selected for you, you can use that amount of money toward another activity of your choosing.
As the wedding industry becomes more sophisticated, so do the financing options that allow you to have your cake and eat it too - wedding cake that is.
The most important tip cited by many wedding experts is to create a budget plan before you purchase anything -- and stick to it. Wedding experts Susan Southerland and Samantha Goldberg agreed that couples need to sit down and figure out exactly what their wedding "must-haves" are and how much they want to spend. "If they don't have a level head and they haven't started thinking, 'Here's what I can spend without getting into trouble,' they wind up going with their heart and not sticking to it," Southerland said. And, if you follow your budget, you shouldn't have any problems with overspending. "If they have a blueprint, there won't be a reason to feel like they're going to go over, because they've been on this plan the entire time," Goldberg said (download her wedding budget tracker here).
By cutting the guest list, you can save exponentially on things like flowers, tables, and square footage, said wedding planner Marcy Blum. You'll have a better event if you invite fewer guests, rather than eliminating services like an open bar and proper facilities. "It would be much better to cut the guest list than cut the wait staff. There's no point in doing something halfway," Blum said.
Money-saving expert Kendal Perez offered this little-known tip: buy used gift cards from stores you'd like to purchase wedding items from at GiftCardGranny.com. When shoppers receive a gift card to a store they don't like, they can sell the card on GiftCardGranny.com for less than face value -- meaning you can buy the card and save up to 30 percent. For example, there are cards available from 1-800 Flowers, Tiffany, and wedding dress retailers like J. Crew. "It’s a different way to save money without having to shop sales, but if you can couple that with something on sale then you’re getting even more savings," Perez said.
Matthew Robbins, author of "Matthew Robinns' Inspired Weddings," cautioned couples against renting too many fancy items, and instead recommended mixing in just a few special pieces with items already included in your venue. For example, rent a unique water or champagne glass to add something special to the table, or use a simple cloth from the venue for the tables and rent a beautiful overlay or runner to dress things up. "Choose wisely and consider rental items as a special accent to embellish what your venue provides," Robbins said.
Holidays are more expensive, plain and simple, said wedding planner Yifat Oren. "You might think it's easier for people to get time off work, but they'll be spending more money all around on travel and accommodations, not to mention the challenges with availability during high season times," she said.
Sign up for all your potential vendors' email lists and follow them on social media in order to get the first scoop on deals, contests, and freebies, said Sharon Naylor, wedding expert and author of "The Bride's Guide To Freebies." You'll hear about clearance sales, "Pin It To Win It" contests on Pinterest, trunk shows and more deals you wouldn't have known about otherwise. "If you’re following them and keeping a good eye on them, you can cash in on some great stuff," Naylor said.
Don't feel like you need to spend money on things you don't really need but feel like you have to have, said money-saving expert Kendal Perez. Skip wedding traditions that seem necessary, like programs and favors. "I don’t think I've ever kept a wedding favor. Those things are unnecessary expenses," Perez said. "Make sure you're planning the party you want and you're not including things just because everyone includes them."
Vendors will sometimes give discounts to clients they enjoyed working with and, if you ask, may agree to give you freebies or substitutions, said wedding expert Sharon Naylor. But don't forget to be nice! "You cannot be a steamroller and you can't demand it and you can't say, 'Well, I heard you gave my friend a free [food] station so what am I going to get?'" Naylor said. "When vendors don't like you you're not going to get as many freebies."
There's no rule that you must have a pricey dinner or cocktail hour for all of your guests, said wedding planner Xochtil Gonzalez. As long as you give guests something to eat and drink, that constitutes a party. Hire a food truck or consider holding a brunch on a Sunday afternoon. "If you know you have a fun crowd that’s going to dance no matter what if the music’s good and they’ve had a couple drinks, there’s no reason to force yourself to just have a nighttime party," Gonzalez said.
Instead of registering for kitchen supplies you don't really need, wedding planner Samantha Goldberg said you can actually register for wedding items such as a videographer or upgraded room on your honeymoon. Many vendors will make cards you can put in your invitations explaining your request to your guests. "You'd be surprised -- everyone pitches in here and there and suddenly you now have this money to have something you thought you wanted but weren't able to afford," Goldberg said.
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