Planning The Perfect Wedding

(On A Budget)

June is the most popular month to get married in our part of the world. No wonder: the temps are moderate, the days are long, and it just feels like a cheerful time of year. What’s not as cheerful is paying for the day.

At First United CU, we can help with the budgeting for your wedding, setting reasonable limits and finding ways to save you money. Consider these tips:

Devise a budget.

Starting with realistic expectations at the onset can lessen the chance for heartache later on. First, sit down with your fiancé and see if your dream wedding coincides with theirs. If not, talk it out and compromise. You may need to bring in the parents. Once you’ve come to terms on what the ideal wedding means, chart out the costs involved – be specific and generous with the amounts you expect to pay in each category.

Items to budget for include the dress, flowers, reception (venue, food and drink), the cake, decorations, wedding favors, the DJ, videographer and photographer. Yes, it’s pretty overwhelming, but you can keep things within reach.

Who to invite?

If you’re on a tight budget, it is perfectly fine to limit your guest list, and it’s one area where you can reduce your costs. You save in food, beverages, and, with fewer guests, have a more extensive choice of venues and dates open to you. If you’re trying to keep costs down, consider inviting just close family and friends you see regularly. Nerdwallet reports that even shaving your guest list by only 10 or 20 people can reduce your expenses by about $1,000.

Save on the dress.

Knot’s annual Real Weddings Study shares that the average cost for a wedding dress is $1,509. This price can vary by where you live, but regardless, what you spend on the dress can be extravagant. NerdWallet suggests looking for bridal shops that specialize in pre-owned wedding gowns, or to check out websites like Stillwhite, Nearly Newlywed or Wore It Once, which have tens of thousands of once-worn and never-worn wedding dresses.

There are also consignment or other second-hand shops to consider. Or honor a loved one by wearing their wedding dress.

Choose the date, time, and place.

While June is the most popular month for weddings, if you choose a month that is not at the height of the season, you can reduce your expenses.

Decide on the food.

The Knot’s study says that the food averages about $70 per guest. You may save money by preparing your own food if the venue is flexible about catering. And it’s okay to serve the basics rather than more elaborate dishes or formal, plate-served meals. Save on alcohol by buying boxed wine and larger bottles of liquor from a warehouse rather than a retail site.

How about flowers and the cake.

Flowers are another big expense. Florists say that to save money, stick to flowers in season. As far as the cake, go for something less elaborate. Consider a grocery store cake or ask a friend for help. There are other less expensive desserts to consider, too. Remember, it’s your day, so it is entirely up to you!

Set limits for the photos.

More people are taking up photography and videography as a serious hobby. If you have a creative, trustworthy friend, consider having them assist. (Make sure to set an agreed upon price.) Or perhaps they can do some supplemental work after the professional photos are taken. If you want to stick only with a professional, set time limits and choose smaller packages. offers tips on saving on photography costs here.

Keep your options open.

If you stay flexible in the time and place, you’re more likely to catch a deal. Country clubs will be more expensive. To reduce your costs, think about a public venue space, a park or perhaps a family or friend’s home.

Finally, allow more in your budget for the things that are most important to you and less for the things that aren’t. Also set aside a bit extra (10-30%) for each category – a slush fund in case you go over budget.

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