Saturday, June 25, 2011

Paying for Your Wedding

Methods for paying for your wedding will vary between each engaged couple. Price alters depending on the desires of the couple, including the venue, the size of the reception, and the wedding details (orchids v. daisies, Vera Wang v. unbranded, etc.).

The most expensive wedding in history was the marriage of Vanisha Mittal, the daughter of a wealthy Indian steel tycoon, and Amit Bhatia, a London-based banker. The wedding included six days of events, such as a reenactment of the couples’ courtship, concerts and performances, and an engagement party at the Palace of Versailles [1]. The total cost of the Mittal-Bhatia wedding totaled $60,000,000. Of course, this is considerably more intricate and ornate than all other weddings, and hopefully more than any of us would ever need or desire.

According to The Knot, the average American wedding costs $27,800 – this conclusive price was averaged between budget weddings and extravagant, lush super-weddings. As previously stated, the cost of a wedding is in large part due to many taste preferences and desires of the engaged couple. It can also be influenced by indiscriminate factors such as the location (city, state, or country) of the wedding events. As many brides will tell you, the cost of a wedding can escalate quickly due to unforeseen expenses, limited options available, or even “I have to have it” moments. Therefore, it is very important to establish a budget early before planning a wedding out of one’s price range.

In American tradition, the groom’s parents pay for the rehearsal dinner and the bride’s parents pay for the wedding ceremony and reception. The payment preferences differ from country to country, however. In some Latin communities, both families, friends of the family, and members of the wedding party all contribute to the cost of the wedding, instead of relying on a few individual family members [2]. Modern wedding etiquette makes room for families dealing with different financial burdens.

Some brides or grooms are blessed with well-off parents, willing to cover the cost of the entire wedding. However, many families do not have the financial stability to pay for their “share” of the wedding costs, especially in the wake of a large economic depression. Depending on the financial situation of the bride or groom’s parents, the couple may have to step-in and pay for a large cost of their wedding.

Variables, other than finance, that come in to play when determining who will pay for a wedding can also include:
1)    If this is the bride or groom’s first marriage. If parents have already paid for one wedding, then the bride and groom of the second marriage typically split the cost (of course, parents can always offer to pay, but it should not be expected).
2)    How old the bride and groom are. Typically, even if it is the couple’s first marriage, if the bride and groom are well established in their fields and earning a high salary (particularly a salary higher than his or her parents), then the bride and groom pay for their own wedding. Again, the division of wedding cost is at the disclosure of the families, but couples that earn more than their parents, or who have parents already in retirement, should take on the financial burden of high-expense weddings.
3)    The type of wedding desired. If parents can only afford, or are only willing to pay for, a budget wedding and if the bride and groom desire a lush, extravagant wedding, then the bride and groom should chip-in.

Of course most brides will admit to dreaming of their wedding day for years, planning each specific detail to a tee. However, establishing a fixed budget may create obstacles in planning an extravagant wedding. There are many ways of maintaining elegance on a budget.
1)    The dress – instead of splurging on a $5,000 designer dress from a high-end retailer, consider shopping at David’s Bridal, Nordstrom, or JCrew, which all carry well-made, gorgeous dresses at lower prices. Quick tip: Remember to never try on a dress you cannot afford. If you fall in love with it, you will begin to compare all future dresses to the unattainable option.
2)    Flowers – if you have a specific type of flower in mind that is out of your budget, consider featuring said flower in your bridal bouquet, and perhaps as a boutonniere for your groom, but displaying a less-expensive flower in table arrangements and bridesmaid bouquets.
3)    DIY – Decorations, bouquets, favors, invitations– these are all things that are frequently outsourced to a company at a high cost, but these can all be done yourself. Look up How-To videos online, or ask married friends what they did. If you’re not crafty or creative, ask your friends to help! Making some of the pieces for you wedding could even sub-in as a wedding gift, and you may be surprised how artsy your friends can be.

Bottom Line: No matter what your budget is, you can still have a beautiful wedding. Many are lucky and are able to afford what they like, but even brides on a budget can have the wedding of their dreams by shopping and spending wisely. Talk with your parents, or any other family or friends that may be willing to help pay for your wedding events, and find out what your budget is early so you can know what to expect. Remember: Although some brides and grooms can expect that their parents or loved ones will finance their wedding entirely, each contribution (no matter how small) should be treated with extreme gratitude. 


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