While planning your wedding, there’s a seemingly endless list of events and choices to make before arriving on the big day. One of the biggest and most important parts of wedding planning is creating your wedding budget. While the wedding is an important occasion that allows you to gather with family and friends to celebrate the start of a new chapter in your life, paying for your wedding can be stressful as expectations and outside pressures mount. It’s important to have a clear plan for how you will afford the things that mean the most to you.
For years, people have said you should spend about 2–3 months of your salary on an engagement ring. While this advice is commonly suggested, it’s only a guideline, and there’s no rule about how much you have to spend on your engagement or wedding rings.
Your lifestyle, current debt, and personal values all play a role when deciding if an expensive ring is the best choice for you. You can ignore the salary guideline to buy rings of your choice that suit your priorities and are within a price range that works for you.
You may want to think about repurposing family rings, buying a synthetic engagement ring, or opting for no ring at all. Make sure to consider all of your options when setting a budget, and shop around before committing to a purchase. You and your partner may decide to spend more or less than the 2–3 months guideline—or end up spending the money on something entirely different that’s more meaningful to you.
Wedding registries are a useful tool to help guests give meaningful and appropriate gifts to newlywed couples. Cultural norms play a big role in what gifts are expected and can range from receiving cash and checks to household essentials like kitchen appliances or furniture. Most often, your guests will give gifts based on a wish list you’ve put together, and you can also use the list to help offset the cost of your wedding or honeymoon.
There are stores and online platforms you can use to create your registry and thousands of options for what to add to the list. Some registries allow for cash gifts into a pool for a wedding or honeymoon fund, while others allow for gifts of specific expenses and excursions. Registries can also help direct wedding gifts to charity. With a registry, you have the freedom to choose the types of gifts that are most significant to you, and with so many options available, you can get creative without being limited to one place or platform.
How much you spend on your wedding is a very personal decision. There may be cultural or religious aspects to consider that could influence the cost. Family expectations and traditions can also affect your spending.
To help decide how much you should spend on your wedding, consider your day-to-day budget and savings goals to figure out what you can afford. Key factors to keep in mind when planning your wedding budget are the venue, guest list size, wedding style, and season—including month, day of the week, and time of day.
Some newlyweds split wedding costs with their families. Have a conversation with your future spouse and both sides of the family to see if they’re willing to contribute. If so, see what everyone is comfortable giving, and work from there to cover the rest.
Navigate conversations with family while planning
Depending on your age and any financial support your families are offering, they may have opinions about your wedding. There are many ways to compromise and collaborate with family members throughout the process. Some families may enjoy creatively weaving old customs into new wedding ideas, while others might be expecting a more traditional approach.
Try to prepare for any disagreements and figure out ways to get family members on board with your plans. You may be excited about a small wedding in a meaningful location, for example, but your parents have always dreamed of seeing you have a big church wedding. Try to understand the issues behind any differing opinions, and, if the objections are reasonable, discuss them calmly. Explain your point of view and why it matters to you. Creating a compelling story could help sway people to your side.
Ultimately, it’s your marriage, and the choices are up to you. Decline any financial help if you strongly disagree with the conditions that come with it.
Honeymoons may come with less cultural weight than weddings, which means there may be more freedom to do what you want, on your own schedule. It makes sense to start saving for your honeymoon early, especially if you’re saving for the wedding at the same time. Consider scheduling the honeymoon later to make sure you’re able to save enough for the trip of your choice.
The cost for a honeymoon can vary depending on destination, duration of stay, and season of travel. If possible, it’s a good idea to pay up front for your travels, so you don’t have to worry about paying off debt later. If you have any credit card miles or points, you may be able to use them toward your trip to help with costs. You could also explore less expensive options for your honeymoon, like staying local or traveling during popular destinations' off seasons. Decide what experiences you and your partner want to share and find ways to enjoy them without breaking the bank.