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"I Do" Without Debt: Savvy Tips for a Fabulous, Budget Friendly Wedding

I want to dive into a topic that combines love, celebration, and—yes—finances. I’m talking about wedding planning! As exciting as it is, planning a wedding often comes with its fair share of stress, especially when it comes to managing the budget. So today, I’m here to share what I’ve learned about the relationship between money and wedding planning while I’m in the midst of planning my own wedding. Let’s embark on this journey to ensure your big day is as financially savvy as it is unforgettable.

1. Start with a Vision

When I started planning my wedding, I quickly realized how easy it is to get swept up in the Pinterest-perfect wedding images. That doesn’t mean you can’t use Pinterest to gather inspiration; I have an entire Pinterest board dedicated to my wedding. But remember, your wedding should reflect you and your partner’s unique story, not a cookie-cutter version of someone else’s dream. My advice? Start with a clear vision of what’s important to both of you. Discuss your non-negotiables and what you can live without. This will help you prioritize your spending and ensure you’re allocating funds to what truly matters.

2. Set a Realistic Budget & Timeline

Setting a budget is the cornerstone of wedding planning. It’s essential to be realistic about what you can afford and to spend within your means. Trust me, this was a hard truth to swallow. In order to find more money, I had to consider what other financial goals (near and far) were worth sacrificing or pushing back the timeline to spend that money on my wedding. On the other hand, I also considered the visions I had for my wedding; are they worth the cost or can I sacrifice them/find another option to cut down on costs?

Having a date and setting a timeline as soon as possible can also help with your wedding budget. In my case, my partner and I both agreed we wanted at least a year between our engagement and wedding; it worked out that our dream date gave us an 18-month timeline. This has allowed us to save in between costs while also putting money toward our other financial goals.

I cannot stress this enough: have an open and honest conversation with your partner about your finances, savings, and contributions from family members (if any) before you do anything. This is a great opportunity to practice financial transparency—a key ingredient for a healthy marriage. Remember, a wedding is just one day; don’t let it jeopardize your financial future together.

3. Empower Yourself with Knowledge

Knowledge is power, especially when it comes to managing money. I took the time to research average wedding costs in our area (in Toronto, the average is $50k-$100k), understand where we could cut costs, and find smart ways to save. Look for DIY projects, consider off-season dates, and explore less traditional venues. My partner and I found a venue to host our ceremony, reception, and accommodations all in one, saving us a lot on transportation costs. Empowering yourself with financial knowledge will not only help you stay within budget but also make you feel more in control of your wedding planning journey.

4. Break Down Gender Norms

Weddings are often steeped in tradition, many of which can be outdated and gender-biased. As a feminist, I wanted to challenge these norms and create a celebration that aligned with my and my partner’s values. This meant splitting costs evenly and forgoing traditions that didn’t resonate with us. Your wedding should be a reflection of your partnership—equal, respectful, and modern. This isn’t to say tradition is bad and you should forgo all of it. For example, I still plan to have my dad walk me down the aisle, giving me away to my partner. Just make sure the traditions you incorporate are what YOU both want.

5. Get Creative with Funding

Who says you have to follow the traditional route of financing your wedding? Get creative! After doing my research on ways to fund a wedding, I learned many couples set up a wedding fund that friends and family could contribute to instead of traditional gifts. Crowdfunding platforms specifically for weddings can be a fun way to involve your loved ones in your planning process. Plus, it can take some financial pressure off you and your partner.

6. Don’t Always Settle on the First Price

Don’t be afraid to negotiate with vendors or simply ask them, “Is this the best price you can offer?” Many aspects of a wedding are negotiable, from the venue price to the photographer’s package. Approach these conversations with confidence, knowing your worth and your budget constraints. Remember, it’s your money and your day—you have every right to seek the best value.

7. Sustainable Choices Can Save Money

Opting for sustainable and ethical choices can often save you money. Things I’ve considered include second-hand dresses or dress shopping at sustainable and ethical bridal stores, recycled paper for invitations, and locally-sourced flowers. Not only will these choices make your wedding more environmentally friendly, but they can also reduce costs significantly.

8. Avoid the “Wedding Markup” Trap

The word “wedding” often comes with a hefty markup. To avoid this, we’ve been looking at services and products that aren’t explicitly marketed for weddings. Whether it’s a dress from a non-bridal boutique or a caterer who typically does corporate events, thinking outside the wedding box leads to substantial savings. One thing we’ve chosen (and this might be controversial) is to not have a DJ or band for our music. Neither of us really cared for either source and saw it as a way to cut back on spending. Instead, we’re going to make a Spotify playlist that our friends and family can add songs to and connect to a sound system when it's time to dance!

9. Focus on What Truly Matters

At the end of the day, a wedding is about celebrating love and commitment. It’s easy to get lost in the details and the pressure to create a picture-perfect event. Focus on what truly matters—your connection, the support of your loved ones, and the joy of starting a new chapter together. This mindset will help you make financial decisions that are meaningful and stress-free.

10. Plan for After the Wedding

It’s easy to pour all your energy (and money) into the wedding day, but don’t forget about life after the “I do’s.” Start your marriage on solid financial footing by planning for the future. Whether it’s a honeymoon fund, saving for a house, or building an emergency fund, ensure your wedding budget leaves room for your long-term goals.

Wedding planning is an exciting and transformative experience. By approaching it with a financially conscious mindset, you can create a celebration that is not only beautiful and personal but also financially responsible. Remember, the most important thing is the love you share and the life you’re building together. Happy planning!

What’s Next?

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Ready to kickstart your financial independence journey? At Untangle Money, our mission is to provide inclusive support to women and individuals who may feel underrepresented in traditional financial spheres, often dominated by cisgender men. We also provide support for couples! Committed to assisting individuals in achieving financial success, Untangle Money offers a comprehensive understanding of financial realities and expert guidance tailored to unique challenges. Our dedication to accessibility is reflected in our affordable options, ensuring broad availability of our services. Join the community of hundreds of other women looking to strengthen their financial well-being. You can check out our products and plans [here] or get in touch for a free consultation!

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