The Wedding is one day, the Marriage is, hopefully, forever. This is the mantra that gets many a bride and groom through the planning stages of a wedding. The Wedding Report, an industry publication, reports that the average wedding costs $29,000 in the U.S:
Here's what I've learned about planning a wedding and would tell myself if I could get in a Delorean and go back in time.
1) Someone is paying for that wedding. Whether its you, the Bride's parents, Elmo or a combination thereof, if you think that you might possibly have some type of celebration to commemorate your marriage, start saving immediately -- even before you find your future spouse.
Some people have parents who have put aside money for them. This is great. However, your parents might get laid off before retirement or have some medical emergency and that money you were counting on is gone. Or your parents can only give so much money yet you want extras like chair covers, floor length table clothes
and a deejay who will show up. These things cost extra. Start saving. Now.
The worst that can happen is you use that money elsewhere -- home downpayment, kickass honeymoon, Bourbon and strippers, whatever.
2) Wedding Vendor Cartel and price fixing. Wedding vendors want large non-refundable deposits upfront and they often incentivize you to pay cash. After all, if you are going to pay $1000 for flowers but will receive a 20% discount ($200) if you pay cash, how can you refuse. With some of the vendors, you end up paying 80-100% of the cost before the wedding date. The good part is you don't have to deal with it on your wedding day. The bad part is, you are sweating bullets that everything will go off without a hitch.
3) The Point of No Return. When you add up the cost of a wedding versus flying to Vegas and having Elvis marry you, the difference is staggering. Still there comes a point when you realize that even if you forfeited all the deposits and grabbed the next flight out to Vegas, you would still come out ahead cost-wise.
3a) The Real Point of No Return. Then you reach a point where you've hemeraged so much money and have little to show for it, unless you actually go through with the wedding. This is the riskiest moment.
Say for instance, your wedding photographer skips out on your wedding because she went to a Rave the night before and woke up in some other city. Sure you have a contract and can go through the long, lengthy legal process of getting your money back. What you cannot do is get in that Delorean and go back and pick a more dependable photographer. Your marriage is still legit though starting off on a stressful note, but your wedding is ruined.