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A Valentine's Day tip: Don't plan a royal wedding

January 28, 2011

| MoneyRates.com Senior Financial Analyst, CFA

It's been estimated that the royal wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton will cost about $16 million. That's a relative bargain compared to the 1981 wedding of William's parents, Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana, which was even more lavish. Then again, when you look at how that marriage turned out, it proves that breaking the bank to pay for your wedding does not guarantee a successful marriage.

Indeed, the opposite may be the case. Overspending on a wedding can start your marriage out under the strain of financial pressures that are hard to overcome. According to the Wedding Report, the average wedding cost was $24,066 in 2010. That's a high price for most households, especially those of younger couples. Rather than go into debt to finance your version of a royal wedding, why not plan a simpler marriage that focuses on you and your spouse, rather than all the frills and extravagances?

Here are seven ways you can save money on a wedding:

  1. Don't overspend on the engagement ring. Think "tasteful" rather than a mafia-bride rock that can be seen from across the room.
  2. Be selective about the guest list. It's supposed to be a special day, right? So limit the guest list to people who are really special to you or your fiancée.
  3. Go off-peak. There are certain days of the week and times of year that are especially popular for weddings--and things are likely to cost more at those peak times as a result. Save money--and stand out from the crowd--by planning your wedding for an unconventional day of the week and/or time of the year.
  4. Save your money in advance. Rather than go into debt for your wedding, build up a savings account in advance. This will give you a taste of the important financial hurdles that you will face as a couple: budgeting, targeting your household savings rates, and shopping for competitive savings account interest rates. Those savings account rates may seem modest right now, but it's much better to be earning a little interest on savings than paying a high interest rate on debt.
  5. Don't get carried away on the wedding dress. Overspending on a garment to be worn just once may be the biggest waste associated with weddings. Remember, the day is about you, not the dress.
  6. Limit the pictures. Consider hiring a photographer for the formal ceremony only, with friends and family taking more spontaneous snapshots at the reception. Also, make sure you get digital images from your photographer so you are not continually paying top dollar for prints afterwards.
  7. Go with a DJ. Wedding bands are expensive, but their repertoires are often limited, and their quality is often doubtful. Why not have a DJ who will work for less, and be able to play top-quality versions of all kinds of music?

If it seems at all unromantic to approach your wedding with an eye towards cost-cutting, just remember that money is the most common source of arguments between spouses. So, by keeping wedding costs down and building up your savings account instead, you may simply be helping you and your beloved start towards a long and blissful life together. And what could be more romantic than that?

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