So You’re Engaged, Now What? A Financial Roadmap for Pending Nuptials

“So when is the wedding?”

I was posed that question even before I released the stress of planning the proposal.  I’ve actually had wedding discussions with many straight friends, and I’m realizing that I never really understood the stress that they were under. I know one friend in particular who is loving the shoe being on the other foot right now.

However, I do feel like that question and the financial issues embedded in it fall into my wheelhouse.  So I feel more comfortable figuring out the wedding than I did the proposal. I’ve already created a roadmap for the most pressing financial questions concerning our pending nuptials.

Who is paying for the wedding?

Obviously, this question is foremost in my mind. I know everyone does it a little differently. Some people get help from their parents. Others pay for the ceremony themselves. Ben and I will likely go the latter route. My brother, who gets married in May, has to do the same thing and would never let my mom and step-dad hear the end of it if they helped out me and Ben.

What kind of ceremony do we want?

Ben and I have been to a lot of weddings.  And we’ve seen a wide spectrum of ceremonies, from a reception in the backyard of a house to a black-tie affair at a posh hotel in downtown Chicago. I want to discuss the particulars – venue, how many people, open bar, etc. – as soon as possible in order to make sure Ben and I envision the same thing.

We’ve briefly discussed some of these issues already. Ben wants a pretty simple ceremony (and has even suggested just going to a court house). I would like something that will not only celebrate us but also the people in our lives. I’m sure we will find some sort of compromise.

What is the budget for the ceremony and reception?

This question is a little trickier. From what I’ve read so far, weddings cost a lot! According to many sites, the average wedding costs around $27,000! (although the median is much lower). I know several people who got married recently and spent over that amount, some by a lot.

I can’t imagine spending a down payment for a house on one day. I’m sure Ben will agree with me on that.  But we’ve yet to determine what we will feel comfortable spending.

How do we make our plan happen?  

Once we determine our expense amount, we can start budgeting! (I love budgets.) I’ve seen many online calculators that help you categorize your expenses.  The amount we want to spend on the wedding will also influence the date we get married (or vice versa). Practically, I plan to add some wiggle room to the budget for unexpected expenses and keep the money in a separate bank account.

How much help will we need?

One of my dearest friends has already scheduled our first wedding-planning meeting. So we will get some help from someone who has a lot of expertise in wedding planning. However, I’m also aware some people go the professional route and hire a wedding planner. I definitely don’t want to do all of the planning myself. But I’m not sure I want to pay someone to do it for me either.

That’s my roadmap so far. Anything else we should think about?