“Ugh, I hated my wedding day. If I could do it again, I’d spend my wedding budget differently.”
Engaged couples often hear this sentiment from people who have already been married. Three-quarters of married couples wish they’d done some things differently at their wedding, according to a survey from jewelry company Dana Rebecca Designs.
Forty-three percent had “flat-out regrets” about their day. You might be worried you’ll have similar regrets about your wedding day and expenses.
While some couples might feel as though their marriage ceremonies were overpriced and underwhelming, that doesn’t mean yours has to be.
You can work out your wedding budget to decide what’s worth the cost and what’s not. Find out where you should scrimp and save or pay full price.
Wedding costs to skip or spend less on
Fortunately, 90% of wedding couples do set a budget for their wedding, according to our wedding costs survey. Even so, most engaged couples have never planned a wedding before. That can make it tough to decide how to rank wedding expenses.
To find out which costs are worth it and which aren’t, we did some research into the biggest wedding budget regrets. Here are the marriage costs that couples could probably spend less on or skip.
Since the venue is one of the biggest expenses of a wedding, it can have a major impact on your costs.
You need to have your wedding and reception somewhere, but 36% of couples responding to a 2018 survey from insurance comparison site EverQuote wished they’d spent less on location. You might not regret opting for a smaller and simpler venue if it helps cut costs.
Dress, hair, and makeup
Looking your best is a big part of your special day, but you may be happier if you spend less on a wedding dress and your appearance.
One in 5 couples wished they’d spent less on hair and makeup, found a survey reported by Brides magazine. Another 19% said they’d spent too much on day-of wedding attire.
Flowers and decor
That same survey revealed that 22% of couples said they overspent on wedding flowers and decorations. And since these items are usually only enjoyed the day of the ceremony, it makes sense to cut costs.
There are much cheaper ways to get out the news of your big day than mailing out hundreds of invitations — an expense that couples wished they’d spent less on, according to Dana Rebecca Designs.
Wedding planner Chelsea Kennedy noted that couples often skip printed wedding programs for their ceremonies. “They may do a printed sign to display instead,” Kennedy said.
Rehearsal dinners or luncheons
Paying for a wedding is expensive. Feel free to skip any add-on events such as an engagement party, rehearsal dinner, or wedding luncheon.
Favors or wedding party gifts
Buying gifts for your wedding party members is a nice gesture, but it’s not required.
If you choose to include this expense, shoot for thoughtful gifts over pricey ones. “Wedding favors are definitely an optional expense, too,” Kennedy added.
Debt fees and interest
Nearly three-quarters of engaged couples expect to get into debt for their weddings, according to our wedding costs survey. But borrowing money to pay for your wedding could be expensive since you may pay borrowing fees and interest.
Avoid getting into debt for your wedding if at all possible. If you decide to borrow to pay for this celebration, keep your balance as low as possible and choose affordable wedding loans instead of high-interest options such as credit cards.
Purchases worth pricing into your wedding budget
While some couples’ wedding cost mistakes include spending too much, others wished they’d spent a little more.
While controlling costs is key to sticking to a budget, don’t sell you and your partner short of the wedding you want. Here’s where many couples are glad they splurged on.
Katy Almstrom is a personal finance coach who focuses on helping couples manage their money. As a frugal person, it seemed wise for her to accept a family friend’s offer to take photos for free at her wedding.
Now, the amateur results are her biggest wedding budget regret. “There are really only a couple of pictures in the end that I loved,” Almstrom said. “There’s not one picture of me with my entire family — even just my parents and my siblings.”
Kennedy agreed that spending on a photographer is key. “Couples should not cut corners on photography and videography,” Kennedy said. “After the wedding, that is all that is left. A good photographer and videographer will capture moments the couple didn’t even know happened.”
As the first vacation as a married couple, the honeymoon can make for some amazing memories that are well worth the cost.
Considering the average honeymoon costs $4,466 and lasts eight days, according to travel guide site TripSavvy, couples value this time together.
Planner or coordinator
One in 5 couples wished they’d spent money on a wedding planner or coordinator, reported Brides magazine.
While this cost isn’t always necessary, hiring help to plan a wedding can relieve a lot of stress and ensure the day goes off without a hitch. “Hiring a professional wedding planner or coordinator will allow the couple, family, and friends to relax and be present,” Kennedy explained.
Band or DJ
A wedding band or DJ can be a worthwhile investment for some music-loving couples, as 10% regretted not spending more on this expense, per Brides magazine.
“A good band or DJ is another area that doesn’t need to be cut,” Kennedy said. “They are truly what keeps the reception going.”
Many couples wish they’d spent less on the wedding and saved more for the future. Half of the couples surveyed by Dana Rebecca Designs said that if they’d had extra funds leading up to their wedding, they would’ve saved that money to help start their lives together.
Of course, every couple is different. You’re going to want a wedding that matches what’s important to you.
Only you can know if any wedding cost offers you and your spouse-to-be a good value. Still, reviewing the wedding expenses couples regret versus which they’d spend more on can highlight a few costs you should more closely consider in your budget.
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