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How to save for a wedding: A budgeting guide for your big day

Weddings are an important milestone, but they come with a high price tag. Learn how to save for a wedding by budgeting the smart way.

  • According to The Knot’s annual wedding survey, the average cost of a wedding in 2021 was $28,000.
  • The sooner you set a wedding budget and start saving money, the better financially prepared you’ll be for your wedding day.
  • Opening a wedding account that helps your savings grow is one way to accelerate your savings goal. Read on to find out all the ways you can maximize your wedding savings without breaking the bank.
  • Weddings are one of the happiest occasions in a couple’s life, but they’re also among the priciest. From venues to flower arrangements and everything in between, wedding costs quickly add up.

    While some couples already have a generous savings pot for their dream day, most don’t start saving until after they get engaged. According to WeddingWire’s 2021 Behind the Wedding Budget Study, only 12% of couples go into their engagement with wedding savings. This means that the clock is ticking for the other 88% to begin saving for a dream wedding.

    The good news is that building a realistic budget to crush your savings goals is more than possible with a solid savings strategy and a little bit of discipline. Read the rest of the article to learn how budgeting your costs will ease you and your partner’s stress during your shared journey to tie the knot.

    How much does an average wedding cost?

    According to The Knot’s annual Real Wedding Study, couples spent an average of $28,000 on their wedding in 2021.

    While this number is a fairly steep benchmark for wedding costs, many factors determine the final cost of your wedding.

    One of the biggest factors is the number of guests attending. In other words, the smaller the guest list, the lower the cost. The Knot reports the average cost of a 2021 wedding with less than 50 guests was $15,000, while larger weddings with more than 100 guests cost an average of $38,000. This explains why weddings were significantly cheaper mid-pandemic when the average cost was $19,000, and the average guest list was 66 people.

    Wedding costs also fluctuate by location. For example, a wedding in California can set you back $33,000 on average, whereas the average cost of holding your nuptials in Utah is $17,500.

    US average wedding costs

    Your ceremony location isn’t the largest factor that determines the price of your wedding. With an average cost of $10,700, the wedding reception will likely eat up the largest chunk of your budget.

    For the price-conscious couple, finding ways to lower venue costs can help you significantly reduce your spending.

    How much should you budget for a wedding?

    One of the most important (and challenging) elements of wedding planning is the wedding budget. According to a 2021 Weddings and Money Study by Brides and Investopedia, the average US wedding budget is $20,000, with roughly $7,250 paid for with savings.

    Two-thirds of survey respondents set a budget before researching the cost of vendors and other wedding expenses. This lack of planning leads to a misalignment between their budget and how much they end up spending, which leads couples to overspend.

    The key to creating a realistic budget and knowing where to set your savings goal is conducting your research beforehand. Start by choosing your must-have wedding vendors and do some comparison shopping to determine their costs. The Knot’s survey respondents hired up to 14 vendors last year, and the most popular choices were:

    • Ceremony and reception venue
    • Catering
    • Wedding dress and groom’s attire
    • Hair and makeup
    • Photographer
    • Florist
    • DJ/Band
    List of top wedding vendors

    Your non-negotiable expenses may include other elements like an open bar or wedding favors. Knowing how much your vendors will cost gives you a good baseline to map out your other expenses and begin managing a realistic wedding budget.

    According to the Weddings and Money study, 72% of couples receive at least some financial support from their families. If you're lucky enough to receive wedding fund contributions from your parents or close family members, factoring those funds into your budget can help fast-track you towards your wedding savings goal.

    How to start saving money for a wedding

    No matter how far away your wedding date is, saving for it ahead of time is a smart financial decision. Here’s how to plan ahead and make smart money moves.

    Set a goal for your wedding budget

    Your wedding budget is one of, if not the most, important aspects of your wedding planning journey. Think of it as the foundation on which you build your savings goals. Once you know what your wedding budget is, you can determine how much you need to save each month to reach that goal.

    As we mentioned before, a realistic budget starts with research. Once you’ve looked into wedding vendors and added up costs, talk to your partner and decide what that magic number will be and when you need the funds. A good rule of thumb is to give yourself some wiggle room. Building a budget with some flexibility means you won’t have to rely on your credit card or dip into a retirement account to cover unforeseen costs later. Almost 70% of the WeddingWire survey respondents admitted that their budget was set lower than it should have been.

    It’s important to mention that your budget should be put in place before you start booking vendors. Sticking to your budget helps you avoid getting carried away and overspending on one vendor. For example, splurging on a wedding dress and having a tight venue budget isn’t exactly good wedding planning.

    Allocate each part of your budget to different categories like venue, catering, and so on. You can even put some of the funds into a “miscellaneous” category dedicated to extra perks you’d like to include if your budget allows.

    Having a budget in place makes you more disciplined when you have a long-term savings goal like a wedding fund. It helps you keep your eye on the prize, so you don’t stray away from your goal when you’re faced with the temptation of spending money on non-essential things.

    Open a wedding savings account that helps your money grow

    Where you choose to store your wedding savings matters — a lot. Choosing the right account can help accelerate your savings goals while choosing the wrong one can hurt your savings.

    If your wedding funds are currently sitting in a checking account mixed with all your other money, consider putting them in a separate, designated wedding savings account. There are many types of savings accounts you could choose from. Goal-oriented saving provides clarity and gives you a better picture of your goal’s progress.

    At the same time, avoid keeping your wedding fund in an account that generates little to no interest, especially when your savings timeline is a year or longer. Money that sits in an account collecting dust depreciates by the day, meaning it loses its value. This is the result of inflation (a.k.a. the rise in costs of goods and services) in action.

    Considering inflation today is at a four-decade high, money can lose value at an accelerated rate.

    A high-yield account gives your wedding savings an opportunity to grow over time.

    Keeping your money in a high-yield account means that the contributions you make toward your wedding fund don’t just sit there losing value. Each dollar is put to work to earn a high rate of return and grow so that you can reach your wedding goals faster.

    Automate contributions

    Let’s say your goal is to save $15,000 for a wedding, and your timeline to reach that goal is two years. Breaking down this goal means that you need to set aside $625 each month to make that happen. At a base rate of 3.00% APY, if you were to put $625 every month (with an initial deposit of $125) into your Tellus account, after two years, you’ll have $15,494.

    With all the other wedding planning on the go, staying on track and making monthly contributions to your savings account can easily fall by the wayside.

    Setting up automated deposits to your wedding account makes saving effortless and ensures your money is deposited at regular intervals each month. Putting your savings on autopilot means you don’t have to lift a finger while your savings goal stays on track.

    Automated savings help you overcome present bias — our tendency to choose a smaller payoff now versus a greater reward later. If you’re physically transferring funds to your wedding account each month, it’s easy to give in to temptation and spend some of it on a spur-of-the-moment splurge. Automating your savings takes that “choice” away from you, ensuring your funds automatically go toward your long-term goal.

    Tellus wedding fund

    Tellus allows you to set up automatic recurring transfers on a schedule that works for you (every week, every two weeks, on the 1st and 15th of the month, and monthly). You can easily automate transfers after each payday.

    Cut back on monthly discretionary spending

    Each time you get paid, you have countless outgoings leaving your account. Chances are, you prioritize essential expenses, like paying your mortgage or buying groceries.

    Once you’ve allocated your paycheck to necessary expenses, some of your budget might go to other costs that enhance your daily life.

    These include things like restaurant meals, your Netflix subscription, or luxury clothing. These are known as discretionary expenses — non-essential purchases that are nice to have, but you can survive without them if you need to.

    Sometimes, marriage requires some sacrifice. You and your partner may need to cut back on discretionary expenses to reach your savings goal. Making these small sacrifices will free up extra funds in your budget, which can be allocated toward an important financial goal like your wedding fund. Consider canceling a subscription you’re not really using or bringing your lunch to work instead of buying. These small savings add up over time and help you reach your goal quicker.

    Spending in a way that aligns with your financial goals is also a good practice in your day-to-day life.

    Make some (bigger) short-term sacrifices

    Sometimes, you may have to make some bigger short-term sacrifices to cover your wedding costs — especially if you’ve got an ambitious budget.

    These sacrifices include curbing larger expenses or making a temporary financial compromise. For instance, 9 out of 10 couples surveyed by Weddings and Money 2021 said they’ve put off at least one major financial priority to pay for their wedding. These compromises included delaying another financial goal like saving for a home or putting retirement savings on hiatus.

    The study also revealed that the younger generation is more likely to move in with their future spouse before the wedding to save money and cut down on expenses.

    If you’re not ready to make a big sacrifice, consider other less drastic lifestyle changes like postponing your travel plans until your wedding is over. Put the money you save toward your wedding day and indulge in a lavish honeymoon afterward.

    Consider supplementing your income

    An effective way to boost your wedding budget is to supplement your income. According to Weddings and Money, in the months leading up to their wedding, Gen Z couples tend to increase their income by putting in extra shifts at work or by selling secondhand goods on e-commerce platforms like Etsy.

    With the gig economy exploding in recent years, there’s no shortage of ways to increase your cash flow. Depending on your skill set, you can make money from the comfort of your home through online opportunities like freelancing or online tutoring.

    Alternatively, you can take up a part-time job on the weekends or a seasonal gig to supplement your income.

    Bonus: Turn your money into passive income with Tellus. It only takes 3 minutes to create an account, and Tellus is 100% free. You will literally be making money while you sleep.

    Practice financial discipline before your wedding day

    Weddings are one of the most expensive financial commitments you’ll make in your lifetime. To ensure you’re prepared for the costs coming your way, it’s crucial to plan ahead and create a robust wedding budget.

    Saving for your wedding fund or any financial goal takes discipline and hard work. Cut back expenses, consider supplementing your income, and take advantage of high-yield accounts that help your wedding fund grow.


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