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Budget For A Wedding: The Happiest, And Probably Priciest Day

Wedding days are days in which you live like royalty. So who can blame them for being expensive.

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Forge Your Wealth is meant for education and entertainment and should not be used for financial advice.

It’s The Middle Of February!

That means it’s about two months after December the most popular month to be engaged. Anyone else not engaged, but who want to be don’t worry February is another pretty popular month (thank you Valentine’s day). This post is meant mostly for people planning their engagement or wedding, but others can read this. Not only will a budget for a wedding show you how expensive they are, but they are one of the most stressful events anyone can face.

The Engagement Ring

I previously mentioned how the average engagement ring costs over $3,000 which is pretty much a small fortune. So if you have found the person you cannot live without you better start saving up cause it does not get much less expensive. This will be a major cost in your budget for a wedding.

My recommendation instead of simply going for a lower costing ring is to have an open mind about the gemstone. When I was looking for quality diamond rings many were over $4,000 and only the least expensive were $3,000.

Get A Different Stone

My wife did not want a diamond because it was unspectacular to her. When she saw a black opal on an educational show she fell in love with it. I obtained a ring with a black opal gemstone of almost 0.8 carats and decorative diamonds of over 0.2 carats for a little more than $1,500. This is about half the average cost of an engagement ring and will be easier on your budget for a wedding.

My wife’s black opal engagement ring. The black opal shows shimmers of green, yellow,orange, and red in many different lights. Not once has this opal looked the same as before. And let me just say the picture does not do black opals justice (taken on a camera phone).

It was a miracle that I purchased that ring for that price. In 2018 black opal is considered extremely rare. As a consequence black opals are now the eighth most valuable gemstone now with a price of $3,500 per carat. I would be lucky to purchase the same ring for less than $3,000 and I do not see that price going down anytime soon.

How was such a rare gem so inexpensive compared to diamonds? Because diamonds despite how common they are compared to other gemstones have a heavily inflated price. This is all thanks to an almost century long advertising campaign that practically everyone fell for hook, line, and sinker. Choosing a different gem stone could cost you over a thousand less. More importantly you will end up with a gemstone that has beauty and sentimental value unlike anything you can imagine. With any luck that ring will be something that can never be duplicated. Much like the love for your significant other.

The Cost Of Weddings

In a previous post I mentioned how weddings are costly. Not including the ring and honeymoon the average budget for a wedding is around $25,000. Including the ring and honeymoon the average wedding costs over $33,000. This will make your wedding day one of if not the most expensive day of your life. And before anyone asks about getting a house, yes even more expensive than that. The Lender’s Network states that the average down payment for a house is $14,000. Your wedding day on average could easily be twice as expensive as what you initially pay for a house. In other words your budget for a wedding will be higher than your budget for a house.

You will probably spend more for your wedding than for a down payment of a house. Hopefully that sounds messed up.

Mine And The Mrs Experience

While the cost of our cost for our wedding was slightly more than $15,000 including the rings and honeymoon. Our cost was still below average. We were able to have our entire family and many of our friends under one roof to celebrate the start of our marriage. However, that is not chump change. Even by finding less expensive alternatives this was easily the most we spent in one single year so far. That is if you do not count payments towards our debt. It was the happiest day of my life so far though so I can say it is worth every penny.

The Venue

My suggestion, do not go to a very popular venue. These could cost over $12,000. If you live in a large city try a smaller town nearby and a less expensive one too. You could easily save money trying this. This was easy for the Mrs. and I because most of our family lived near a quaint small town. Our venue cost less than $5,000 and that was for a more premium package.

The Food

For food buffets tend to be cheaper and easier on a budget for a wedding. While there are hassles having everyone go up for food at once most people will complain less about their food since they can pick what they want. Another thing that would be better is to avoid h’orderves. Our package included that for an affordable price. However, one of my cousins had a wedding slightly before us and the venue did not provide affordable h’orderves. Instead the entire family got together and prepared sliced vegatables, cubed cheeses and meats, and appetizers. We even made our own desserts at every wedding. It’s apparently a tradition.

What about the cake? This is not as pricey as you may think. The average cost is $540. Our cake was a three-tier cake and of great quality from one of the best bakeries in the region. It cost only about $300. It could have easily cost more than twice that much and almost purely for decorations. For instance, some edible decorations could have added another hundred to the cost. Also their was a rhinestone strip in which could have cost an additional $200. This strip was more or less some expensive decoration in which would have been thrown out anyways.

Decorations And Favors

You will not expect such a high cost for decorations, but it can sneak up on you. Flowers will cost from $339. Wedding venue decorations will cost on average $445. Centerpieces will cost on average $326. Altogether you can spend over $1,000. Instead, my family and I have purchased and made our own decorations including the rhinestone strip mentioned for the cake. We purchased practically all of our decorations from Michaels and other craft stores. This turned spending over $1,000 to just a couple hundred easily.

Wedding favors can also cost an easy buck. In fact, they can cost on average $2 or $3 a piece. My Wedding Favors offers great favors from match boxes to personalized glassware. Currently they offer great deals in addition to coupon codes listed below.


Invitations can easily cost a few hundred. Unfortunately, this is pretty much an unavoidable cost. For wedding invitations let’s pretend you buy cards for $0.10 each (not unreasonable from a dollar store). If you want to send it out to 100 people that will be $10. You will still need to design them yourself and that will cost time and they will probably not be well customized. Don’t waste your time with this unless you have nothing but time.

However, if you want special stationery, it is best to buy them straight-forward and leave the design and customization to someone else who specializes in that. My wife and I agreed to purchase these invitations, they were at a discount though.

Look for discounts or even send e-Invites. I recommend Minted for physical invitations and stationary. They have a very large selection and variety of invitations. They also provide inexpensive invitations that are still high quality.

If you want to go with the e-Invite route (note it will still cost money) I would recommend RSVPify. They not only allow you to send out e-Invites and RSVPs for your wedding, but allow you to easily manage your guest list. You can obtain information necessary including meal options to prepare for the wedding and make it a wedding for everyone to talk.

The Dresses

Oh boy, how many shows have been made showing the extravagance of wedding dresses? I probably do not need to tell you this, but the wedding dress will probably be pricey. The average wedding dress will cost about $1,200. My wife’s cost just about $1,000, but it was $600 before the fitting. So it is worth noting that there will be hidden fees. On average bridesmaid dresses cost about $150, that sounds about right.

One option is to rent wedding dresses. I recommend renttherunway. Instead of over a thousand or several hundred at the cheapest the price can be around a hundred. You should still expect hidden fees. Another option is to buy second hand dresses. Many people sell their wedding dresses since they are frequently one time use. Some of these sites include OnceWed and Nearly NewlyWed.

The Suits And Tuxedos

Tuxedos can easily cost over $400. Renting will cost less. However, instead of tuxedos me and every groomsman purchased a freshly tailored suit which only cost a little more than a hundred each (only a little more expensive than what a rented tuxedo could cost). Instead of looking flashy for a day these suits will last for life. Assuming none of us gain a hundred pounds.

As for the ties. We just bought ordinary ties, did not even tell the store it was for a wedding. These can cost over a hundred if you go to a store that specializes in weddings.

The Wedding Bands

These are not the engagement ring. You will have to purchase two other rings. When the Mrs. and I were checking these out we found that many of these bands can cost as much as the engagement ring. Instead of purchasing fancy rings with diamonds encrusted everywhere (yes they do exist) just go with ordinary gold, silver, platinum, whatever metal you prefer. These cost us just $200 for each ring.

Wedding Registry

This may sound like a strange one to mention for saving money because most registries do not cost money to set up. However, there can be hidden costs to put in your budget for a wedding.

For instance, if someone bought something you either do not want or something that does not quite fit what you want, returns and shipping may cost money. Sometimes a grace period for returns is offered, but it is usually short. And no one wants to worry about returning gifts immediately after a wedding. I sure did not want to worry about that. That is the time to enjoy your honeymoon or pass out because you’re tired. Who am I kidding you will do both.

Amazon Wedding Registry is the perfect way to set up the wedding registry. They not only offer special discounts, a one stop shop that provides all information about their products, and features including group pay for large ticket items, but they also provide a 180 day grace to return your gifts, almost 6 months. It does not matter if you are a prime member or not. There are more benefits including 20% off purchasing anything you and your loved one did not get off the registry after you are married. These are only some of the amazing benefits Amazon provides. Check out Amazon Wedding Registry to see if they fit for you.

I have heard of wedding cash registries including Zola. This allows people to suggest how much money wedding guests can give by earmarking it for the honeymoon and house payments. While money is one of the best things to provide people for their weddings, I fail to see the point of earmarking these on a registry and even if I heard of it before the wedding, I would not have used it. But what would have turned me away from that idea are the fees. Zola, who brags about their low fees uses 2.5% of contributions as a fee. People are paying money to give you money which doesn’t sound right to me and they should not be included in a budget for a wedding.

Final Thoughts

There are other sources on how to budget for a wedding including many books which I have linked. Check other people’s advice not just my own.

I know that the wedding is supposed to be magical. However, there is a common phrase “magic comes with a price.” I think that’s in several Grimm fairy tales and probably by association Disney. And your wedding night can still be magical. Ask yourself this is your wedding worth going into massive debt for? You want to make your lives together and that includes forging your wealth together.

Author: Papa Foxtrot

Most of my life I was careful with money and learned where I should invest it. I was very lucky to have parents who taught me financial literacy when I was young. Unfortunately, I am very lucky because many people lack the financial literacy I know. The purpose of Forge Your Wealth is to teach people who are just starting out in life how to obtain their wealth or anyone who just realized they may need to learn more to handle their finances. I currently have a PhD in biochemistry, just started a job in industry (will not disclose where exactly for personal and professional reasons) and am currently married to the love of my life. I am one of the lucky few people in America who graduated with no student debts, my wife was not. Over the series of a little over 3 years we paid for our wedding with no debt and paid off her federal student loans.

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