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Plan a fun, yet not too expensive wedding

Bridesmaids posing for a picture

The summer months are a popular time of year for many couples to announce their engagement.

With the warmer weather, fiancés are able to plan when they see fit. Popular proposal ideas include boat rides on a lake, asking the question at a park, or while on a summer vacation.

After the proposal is when the wedding planning starts. Some couples may choose to wait a while, whereas others may want to plan everything within the next year. It's important you first discuss with your significant other what the best plan is for both of you.

Whatever you decide on, you then have to take finances into account. Weddings are undoubtedly a special moment not only for you and your loved one, but also for family members and friends. As such, it's likely crossed your mind about how you want to organize the best wedding reception possible, full of good food, a lively dance floor, and other fun activities.

But if you don't set a budget and stick to it, you might dig yourself into debt just as your life as a married couple begins.

wedding couple hugging under a tree
Plan a fun wedding reception without breaking the bank.

Why a budget is necessary

MarketWatch, citing a survey from TheKnot.com and Paypal, stated 36 percent of couples pay for their wedding by charging it to a credit card [1]. The average cost of a wedding in 2014 was $31,213, a 4.5 percent increase from 2013.

To put the average wedding cost into perspective, you can use that amount of money for at least a 10 percent down payment on an average home. Weddings will also vary in cost depending where you hold the reception. If you get married in a city like New York, you could realistically spend close to $76,000 on your special night.

After the proposal, it's therefore important you discuss a budget and other ways to still plan a memorable wedding, but one that will not ruin your finances.

Venue and season

Weekend weddings, and those particularly scheduled for a three day weekend, are by far the most popular option, and for good reason, TheKnot.com stated [2]. By having a weekend reception, you make it easier for guests to show up, for instance.

But since weddings scheduled for a holiday weekend are the most popular options, venues are often booked well in advance, and if there happens to be an opening, there are other interested parties. As a result, you may have to pay more to hold a reception at a time when space is limited.

To help save money, consider having a reception at a less popular time of the year. The months from November to April are generally considered to be off-season, Bankrate stated [3]. However, this will vary by an area's climate because if the weather is constantly warm, summer is actually considered off-season whereas the winter is off-season for areas that experience colder temperatures.

"Consider having a reception at a less popular time of the year."

Reception essentials

Almost all wedding receptions will treat guests to a multi-course meal along with a bar. According to Money Crashers, the bar is generally the most expensive cost of the reception [4]. To help cut costs, you might want to consider picking out heavier appetizers instead of a traditional dinner and seeing if the venue has a BYOB policy.

Other costs that can get out of hand if you aren't careful include photographer and DJ or live band. Even though today's smartphones come with high quality cameras, nothing beats the equipment professionals have. Look around for photographers and keep in mind you don't necessarily have to hire someone whose sole profession is to shoot weddings.

Consider asking friends or family if they know anyone who does wedding photography on the side. Just remember to review portfolios before making a final decision.

Music is a must at any reception, and you can either hire a live band or a DJ. Like a photographer, ask around to see if anyone is willing to play who won't command a high price. With the availability of musical instruments and tools, you might stumble upon an up-and-coming band or DJ looking to make a name for themselves.

Everything else

From tuxedos to the wedding dress and invitations, you'll also want to carefully manage the costs of everything. With some of these tips in mind, the cost of your wedding can dramatically be lowered. Be sure to talk with the planner you've hired about finding decorations and other essential wedding items, like flowers, on the less expensive side of things.

You don't necessarily have to skip out on a reception. Instead, look for unique and fun ways to still throw a reception without breaking the bank and digging yourself into debt.


[1]. One-third of couples go into debt for their wedding day

[2]. Less Expensive Days for Weddings

[3]. 7 ways to save on an off-season wedding

[4]. Planning a Wedding on a Budget – 15 Ideas to Get Married for Less

The information provided in these articles is intended for informational purposes only. It is not to be construed as the opinion of Central Bancompany, Inc., and/or its affiliates and does not imply endorsement or support of any of the mentioned information, products, services, or providers. All information presented is without any representation, guaranty, or warranty regarding the accuracy, relevance, or completeness of the information.