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Don’t Let Wedding Costs Create Long-Term Financial Risk

Start your new life off right by taking control of wedding costs.

June is for brides and grooms. More marriage vows are exchanged in June than in any other month.

The marriage is important, but the postwedding reception is … just a four-hour party. Will you let it cost more than it’s worth?

Many do. Consumer Reports says 61 percent of couples who married over the past five years admitted overspending on their wedding costs. For nearly one in 10, the event created financial jeopardy. They withdrew money from a 401(k), 403(b) or IRA.

The $60 billion wedding industry helps you overspend. Consumer Reports found that wedding vendors — photographers, florists, caterers, venues and limo services — all charge wedding parties more than they charge for the same services for other events.

The average cost of a wedding is now $35,329, according to theknot.com. Couples getting married in Manhattan typically spend the most money: $78,464 on average. So you might consider getting hitched in Arkansas, where the average wedding costs $19,522.

Instead of lavish spending on a wedding, a large portion of your budget would be better used to make a down payment on a house, to buy a car, or to save toward retirement and future financial security.

Brides typically spend far more money on weddings than grooms do, but years later many of them regret doing so. It’s actually easy to keep costs down when it comes to the big day. Here are a few tips:

  • Rent a gown or buy one secondhand. Patronize thrift stores, consignment shops and rental outlets. You’ll pay a fraction of what it costs to buy new. Remember, this dress is worn only once.
  • Trim your guest list. This is the most impactful way to reduce costs.
  • Marry out of season. Venues and services are less expensive during winter months. And avoid Saturday — the day when booking facilities is most expensive.
  • Time your wedding to start and end early. Midday and late-afternoon weddings are more affordable than those that start in the evening. You’ll also save on alcohol.
  • Do the catering yourself or hire a family-owned restaurant that may be more affordable than a pricey caterer. If there’s alcohol, supply it yourself.
  • Try an alternate location. Maybe your local university or your favorite roadhouse or restaurant hosts special events. Home weddings are also more affordable and might feel more intimate.
  • Reduce the lavishness. You likely do not need an abundance of bouquets. And besides, flowers die. Go with simple flowers for each member of the party. Avoid buying gifts for groomsmen and bridesmaids. If these people are true friends, they’ll appreciate a nice thank-you card just as much.

Remember: Money is the root cause of most divorces. Don’t let your wedding costs — or your child’s — set the stage for failure.

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