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Saving for a wedding: Tips before you tie the knot

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Dean Mitchell/Getty Images

When you're planning and saving for a wedding, a smart spending strategy can help you marry two important yet distinctive goals—affording your ideal celebration while starting off your marriage with a solid financial foundation.

After all, one of the best gifts you can give yourself is protecting your savings for the new life you're creating together. As you approach the big day, consider these steps to keep your wedding saving and spending in check.

Understand potential wedding costs

How much do ceremonies and receptions cost these days? The Knot found that surveyed couples spent an average of $30,000 in 2022. It's natural to feel some sticker shock as you research prices, but keep in mind that the day—and the amount you choose to spend on it—is yours.

Many variables also can affect the cost, and location is a big one. For instance, the site found the average New York City wedding costs $60,000, which is twice the average cost of the Orlando-Daytona Beach area. Other factors include the type of venue, guest count, buffet or served meal, time of year and time of day. The number of vendors and their prices also are worthy considerations. These could include wedding planners, photographers, videographers, DJs, live bands, florists, caterers and professionals to handle hair and makeup.

Discuss what's most important to you as a couple. If you know certain priorities will stand out and some may not even factor in, you could pare down costs right from the get-go.

Plan within a budget

Budgeting for a wedding, or even for everyday expenses, as a couple can hardly garner the same excitement as a proposal. But monitoring income and expenses now can pay off big-time in the future. You'll be able to make faster and easier decisions once you determine how much you want to spend overall.

Here's a typical wedding budget breakdown that can help get you started:

  • Venue and catering: 40% of your budget
  • Photography and videography: 15%
  • Music/entertainment: 10%
  • Flowers: 10%
  • Décor: 10%
  • Wedding attire and beauty: 5%
  • Transportation: 3%
  • Stationery: 3%
  • Favors and gifts: 2%
  • Cake: 2%

But remember, your priorities will dictate how your own allocation looks. Don't feel pressured to follow suit of what's "normal." If you care deeply about a live band but not so much about the quantity of flowers, your budget should reflect those preferences.

Also, although it can be hard, resist the urge to keep up with the Joneses. Base your decisions not only on finances but also on your unique wishes for your special day.

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Are you ready to manage finances as a couple?
Getting to know each other's money mindsets, personal finance plans and future goals helps you work together.

These three conversations can help any couple get started on the right foot.

Learn more

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How to pay for your wedding without jeopardizing your financial future

As exciting as your wedding will be, you and your partner probably have other joint financial goals. These may include buying a home one day, paying off student debt and saving for retirement. You will need to protect your current assets as you focus on financial planning for a wedding.

It's a challenge you can help solve by being prudent with your wedding expenses or increasing your savings. Better yet, you can embrace both approaches simultaneously.

Bring down your expenses

Find strategies to cut costs where possible. For example, would you consider a daytime wedding, which can cost less than an evening affair and offer other perks? Are you comfortable asking guests to RSVP online instead of mailing back a physical card? Can you bring yourself to reduce your guest list?

Consider negotiating with vendors, too. They may be particularly amenable if your nuptials fall during a season, day or time that's slower for their business.

Increase your savings and investments

It's natural for spending to be on the brain, but saving has a big role to play as well. Find creative ways to save wherever and however you can. Instead of going out for the next date night, perhaps you have a planning night in where you cook your favorite meal together.

In addition, look for opportunities to grow savings you already have earmarked for the wedding. You can open accounts that typically earn higher returns than most traditional savings accounts but also can be considered safe places to keep your money. These include:

  • A certificate of deposit (CD). A CD will pay a fixed interest rate over a specific period of time. An 18-month CD may be a good option if your wedding date is around two years away, for instance.
  • A high-yield savings account. Holding all your wedding funds in this account can simplify your record-keeping. You even may be able to automate your savings by depositing part of your paycheck directly into the account.

Weigh your wedding payment options

After you've determined your target spending amount and how you're going to save for the ceremony, it's time to choose a spending strategy:

Pay in installments

Some venues and vendors allow clients to pay an upfront deposit and make subsequent payments over time before the wedding. These kinds of payment plans can help you avoid being on the hook for a big payout initially or as your blissful day approaches.

Strategically use your rewards credit cards for wedding purchases

Many credit cards offer rewards like cash back, points and miles. You can put those bonuses toward your wedding and honeymoon expenses. The caveat is that you should pay off your balances each month to avoid interest charges. You don't want to say "I do" to credit card debt as you begin your marriage.

Start your married life on a solid financial footing

As you plan the wedding of your dreams, your head often will be in the clouds, imagining the perfect day for you and your betrothed. Pairing that daydream with mindfulness about your financial standing can keep you grounded and ready for what's to come.

That may require some serious conversations between you and your partner, especially if you haven't openly discussed finances before. It's good timing, though. Talking honestly about spending, saving, debt and other money matters now can help you make a successful mindset shift from individual players to a financial team as newlyweds.

You also can call in a financial ally for your team—a Thrivent financial advisor can help you plan out your financial future together from day one.