If there’s anything more commonly seen on your Facebook feed during the holidays other than Christmas baking and ugly sweaters, it’s engagement rings! So, to all those ladies with some new bling on their left hand, and all the lucky guys who locked them down, congratulations! As I’m sure you’ve quickly realized, you’ve got a lot of work to do!
Having just gone through the whole wedding planning process myself, I am all too familiar with the highs and lows that come with planning, and paying for your big day.
I’ve often been asked how my husband and I managed to pay for our wedding completely in cash before the big day. By no means am I an expert in this area, but I truly believe that although your wedding day is very important, it’s not important enough to act like you’re Kim and Kanye and ball out with money you don’t have. So, here’s (a bit of) how we managed to keep this beast under control, and on budget…
- Keep a DETAILED plan and work backwards
Planning a wedding isn’t like walking through the mall, spotting a pair of suede booties on sale, and taking them home with a swipe of your credit card. Financially speaking, it’s a big deal. My husband and I don’t believe in credit cards (more on that another time), therefore, we determined (even before we got engaged) to pay for our wedding completely in cash. We were committed to making sure it was fully paid for by the wedding day.
Making that commitment meant we would have to have a VERY DETAILED master plan and be on the same page of that plan at all times. By working backwards from the estimated date of the wedding (9 full months), we calculated exactly how much we could possibly save pay cheque by pay cheque. We decided on some necessary adjustments in our finances and lifestyles in order to maximize that number to capacity, leaving only the slightest bit of wiggle room for the occasional lunch out, and (for me) Starbucks runs. Our personal budgets were razor thin, but our wedding savings were stacking up quickly.
- Research like your life depends on it
Like most newly engaged girls, I dove headfirst into the wedding planning process; not because I was necessarily all that interested in “weddings”, but mostly because I was on the hunt for creative ideas that could be realistically executed within our pre-determined, itemized budget. We prioritized each part of the wedding (venue, dress, food, etc.) and allocated a particular amount of money for each thing.
This is where in-depth research is absolutely critical. Prioritizing and budgeting is impossible without the right amount of research. This is where most people fall prey to impulsive, emotionally driven, “it’s my one day” purchases, and end up buying things, or booking vendors way out of their means.
To keep everything organized and on track, my fiancé and I set up a Google Spreadsheet that included timelines (deadlines) and tabs for each item. When it came to researching venues, for example, we’d update all the information we’d gathered from multiple vendors into the shared document, and have use it during regular discussions about any decision that needed to be made. Doing this not only ensured that we’d made the best-informed, most economically sound decision, but also helped us learn to work together, compromise, and keep each other accountable – great training for married life, right?
At the time of our engagement, we were both living comfortable lives in our own apartments in uptown Toronto. Between the two of us, we were paying nearly $2000 in rent. We decided that in order to have the kind of wedding we wanted, we’d both move back to our respective moms’ places. If you’ve ever had to move back to your parents’ from your own place, you know how annoying this can be. It was a huge sacrifice for both of us, but a necessary one. Knowing that it was only temporary, however, made it a lot easier to stomach.
We sacrificed having nice clothes and nice things. For the first time in my life I actually had my boots repaired, and mended the holes in my clothes; we were literally hanging on by a thread. We sacrificed fancy date nights. Not that we were previously having steak dinners every weekend, but now, going to Swiss Chalet was a luxury and set aside for special occasions only. Everything had to be calculated. Every cost had to be accounted for; even having to do just that felt like a sacrifice because we no longer had the freedom to be spontaneous and just “have fun”.
Having a beautiful wedding with lots of people, great venue(s), loads of food, and a beautiful dress is possible with cash; you do not have to go into debt to make it happen. As long as you get creative, diligently stick to the master plan, research everything, and maintain the right perspective when you have to make sacrifices, the wedding of your dreams can be a reality.
Here’s to using gift money for a fancy honeymoon in Italy!