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Wedding Budget - % of Net Worth?

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brendaman

Shiny_Rock
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Nov 7, 2008
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180
So, FI is a very conservative, practical person. For example, he saved up money to pay cash for his car, and he''s paid off the morgage to his house. It''s not that he makes a lot of money, he''s just given up certain things or done certain things (e.g. lived with his parents) in order to save. This economy has hit his self-owned business, and he''s still struggling to save the cash to buy my e-ring. I make enough money to support us, even if he makes zero income this year. On top of that, I am also financing the wedding. We do both want to have a small, intimate wedding (less than 100 people). We have been living together for six years (and been together for 10) and have been through sooooo much (e.g. he''s a colon cancer survivor). I don''t want to go on and on, but I do want to say that there are so many reasons why our small wedding will be a long-awaited celebration for both sides of the family. We want to dance!

OK, now here''s the question: How much should one spend on a wedding, and why are there no guidelines on a recommended budget, based on your salary or net worth? This question is, of course, coming from my FI. All I keep reading about wedding budgets are that it''s based on the number of guests, the venue, etc. FI is comparing our wedding budget to my net worth, my annual salary, etc. I keep telling him that other people who make less money actually spend more on this one day. He keeps scratching his head saying, "how do they do it"? We want to finance the wedding ourselves, so that we would have the wedding we want (and not invite strangers), but our parents are financing some things (e.g. rehearsal dinner). There are lots of guidelines on how much one should spend on rent, a downpayment for a house, or a downpayment for a car, but not on a wedding.

Did you think about or discuss this when you were developing your wedding budget?
 

Deelight

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Oct 4, 2007
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5,543
brendaman You bring up really good points, actually many I don''t think FI and I really have thought about explicitly. I have battled within myself of having the “princess day” – I use that term loosely to WOW this is really stupid to be spending so much money on one day – we decided to spend the money because we can afford to and neither one of us is frivolous or spends lots or has masses of debt so this is our one splurge.

From the start I asked him to help me set a budget, he said there was no point until we found out how much things cost so to yet we still don’t have one – scurry I know. How much you should spend on a wedding is something that will significantly vary from couple to couple – you don’t have to spend oodles of money to have a fantastic day so I would say spend what you feel comfortable with and an amount that doesn’t get you into debt.
 

elrohwen

Ideal_Rock
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May 20, 2008
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5,392
Well, my parents gave us $10k to start, so that was our basis. From there we really wanted to spend only $15k, but we quickly realized that wasn''t going to happen (the cheapest place we could find for only 70 guests is still $9k+ for the reception and ceremony with no dresses, invites, etc). So we upped our budget to $20k and figured that we could definitely save $10k in time. I guess it came down to how much we could save comfortably. We also wanted to keep some money in our savings account and not totally drain it for the wedding.

Really, it came down to figuring out how much the basics cost and then making sure we would be able to save up that much.
 

Inanna

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Sep 14, 2008
Messages
565
Brenda,

I do wish there was more financial guidance out there for what people should spend on a wedding, given their income and assets. I suspect most people would be advised to spend a lot less.

When FI and I sat down and considered budget, we wanted to determine what amount we could comfortably save between that point (which was January of this year) and the wedding (in November). The last thing we wanted was to start our marriage in debt or raid our savings accounts, which we consider long-term accounts (i.e. for a house down payment). We also asked our parents to come up with a budget that suited them. My mom stated that she was comfortable with saving $10k to contribute to the wedding and FI and I determined we could save another $10k between the two of us. FI''s family has avoided the issue, so we''re not expecting any financial contribution from them at this point. So there it is - we have a fairly comfortable budget of $20K, but we are still trying to come in under budget.

After a few more weeks of researching, I realized that I could not personally justify spending all of that money on one night. We decided that a destination wedding would be a better option for us - the celebration will be spread out over 4 days at a private estate (much needed mini-vacation with both families together AND plenty of space to host the wedding). The setting looks very luxurious and it is expensive it its own right, but we''re saving a TON of money vs. having a local wedding at a hotel or country club type setting. The DW also gives us the excuse of not inviting everyone in the world. This means even more savings and less compromising on certain aspects of the wedding that I''d like to splurge on (for example, spa services and pampering the day of the wedding).
 

sunnyd

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Nov 5, 2007
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7,353
We (okay, I) did a lot of price searching pre-engagement, so I had a good idea of how much the wedding we wanted would cost. We decided that it was a good amount, then my parents took over the largest pieces (food, drinks and my dress), FI''s parents took cake and flowers. So we bumped up photography and some other things and are good to go at $17,000, not including HM.
 

kama_s

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Jul 12, 2008
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3,617
I know exactly what you''re going through - we were struggling with a budget for quite a while as well. We gave ourself a quasi budget of 20K in the first few months post engagement, but quickly realized it wouldn''t be nearly enough for the wedding. Our decision got a little easier though, Mr. Kama received a decent bonus the past two years, and we just set that aside to pay for the wedding.

That said, I think it''s reasonable to spend a year''s savings into the wedding. The way I look at it, you have plenty of time to save and pay for a house down the road.
 

jet2ks

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Feb 3, 2009
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2,022
FI and I do not yet have a budget yet, either. Same issue--neither one of us really knew going in how much different things would cost. We are planning on paying for the wedding ourselves. It helps that we are both pretty conservative as far as tastes and spending so I am not too worried about the budget.

I am just amazed at how much wedding costs vary depending on location--maybe this is part of the problem trying to establish guidelines. As Elrohwen mentioned, in some parts of the country it can easily take $10K for a venue, while in the rural area that we live, it is a fraction of that.

I'm with you that there ought to be some basic guidance for the wedding budget--there is for an e-ring, right? Obviously, every couple will be different as far as family contribution, savings, etc. but shouldn't there be something like "a good starting point for a wedding budget is XX% of your yearly income" I have even seen budgets for each piece of the wedding (plan on 40% for the venue, 10% for the bride's dress & accessories, etc.), but none for the whole thing.

EDT: kama, that one year's savings is a good idea and starting point.
 

NuggetBrain

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Mar 20, 2009
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206
We just sat down and figured out how much we could comfortably save each month, and then multiplied that by the number of months left until the wedding. We came up with 10k. His parents are doing the flowers and rehearsal dinner (they are budgeting about 2k for that) and my mom gave us 3k towards the reception costs plus an unspecified amount towards my dress. So we''re looking at probably 15k for our budget. FI is adamant about not wanting to take out any loans for any amounts for the wedding, so we''re going to work within what we have.
 

Mediterranean

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Jan 26, 2008
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578
Date: 4/7/2009 12:03:54 PM
Author: NuggetBrain
We just sat down and figured out how much we could comfortably save each month, and then multiplied that by the number of months left until the wedding. We came up with 10k. His parents are doing the flowers and rehearsal dinner (they are budgeting about 2k for that) and my mom gave us 3k towards the reception costs plus an unspecified amount towards my dress. So we''re looking at probably 15k for our budget. FI is adamant about not wanting to take out any loans for any amounts for the wedding, so we''re going to work within what we have.
We did exactly the same thing, and we had the same rule (absolutely no loans of any kind, absolutely no touching any of our savings). Our budget was strictly based on what extra we could save basically from the time we got engaged, on. And we kept it small, it''s looking like about 50 people when all is said and done.

It has given me a lot of peace-of-mind knowing that I didn''t waste too much money on this, and knowing that I won''t be paying any bills for it after it''s over. Sticking to the budget has been the most relaxing thing ever. It makes it very easy to say "no" to the seriously ridiculous stuff they try to sell you for weddings....
 

redfaerythinker

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Jun 7, 2007
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1,781
Wow... i''d never really thought about that. My mother just gave me a budget and that was that.
 

Gypsy

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
Aug 8, 2005
Messages
40,198
I'd say the wedding cost 20% of our combined gross yearly income. Would I do it in today's economy? No way. We were very fortunate that 35% of that was from parental gifts and contributions from family and friends. My parent's gave us 5K as a gift toward wedding expenses, then paid another 2K for the extra guests they 'had to' have, My MIL paid for the rehersal dinner and our car insurance for the year we were saving up (so we could spend that money on the wedding), my grandparents' gifted us with our photography, and we received some very generous gifts from our guests. Our mother's also bought us 'random' things they felt like buying (ribbon, my hair piece, my earrings, favors), and offered to buy more things but we had already budgetted for them luckily. Still our out of pocket was over 10% of our gross income. That's a lot when you think about it. Hope this helps.
 

CDNinNYC

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Oct 21, 2007
Messages
2,216
I''ve posted this before... It''s a "Starting Budget Calculator" that might assist in determining a budget.

Savings: Total savings X .50 =
Combined Monthly Income: Income X months of engagement X .20 =
Bride''s Family Contribution: XXX amount
Groom''s Family Contribution: XXX amount

For Example:
Total savings: $12,000 X .50 = $6000
Combined Monthly Income: ($8000 X 15 months) X .20 = $24,000
Bride''s Family Contribution: $2000 = $2000
Groom''s Family Contribution: $2500 = $2500

TOTAL BUDGET = $34,500


Of course, this is only a guideline.. . . . . . . . . . . . . .
 

Haven

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
Feb 15, 2007
Messages
13,166
I think you should spend only what you can afford on your wedding. I do not think that a percentage of net worth, or income, or any such calculation is an accurate way of determining what you can afford. (Just like those silly mortgage calculators don't necessarily reflect what you can actually afford, only what some equation says you can afford.)

As with all things, you should consider how much you can manage to save for the wedding without taking funds away from other things that are a higher priority to you (e.g. savings, investments, paying off debt.)

As for what you can *afford*, I think that really means different things to different people. DH and I weren't about to go into any kind of debt for our wedding, so we planned to spend only what we could save or take out of funds that had already accrued. (And then we were incredibly blessed when my parents said they wanted to pay for the whole thing.) To some, it's worth it to accrue debt that they can pay off within a year, for us that just wasn't something we wanted to do.

Weddings will be "worth" different things to different people, regardless of what they earn or their net worth. I personally think it's most important to be sure that you don't go into any kind of debt for a wedding, but I suppose that is something some people are willing to do, also.
 

rhbgirl24

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Feb 6, 2009
Messages
2,181
We had the same problem. Its hard to set a certain budget. Neither one of us make too much money, so it was basically what we knew we could save in the 18 months between engagement and wedding. Then we fell in love with a venue that was $160 pp as a minimum......
We are also paying for the majority of the wedding ourselves and also wanted absolutely no loans of any kind. Both parents have added a bit here and there, so we just are saving our asses off. Our budget will end up topping around $25-27K for 75 guests. Not including honeymoon.

Its just what you are comfortable with, where you want to have it... so on.
 

DiamondsforDee

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Aug 21, 2008
Messages
138
Date: 4/7/2009 12:28:23 PM
Author: Mediterranean

Date: 4/7/2009 12:03:54 PM
Author: NuggetBrain
We just sat down and figured out how much we could comfortably save each month, and then multiplied that by the number of months left until the wedding. We came up with 10k. His parents are doing the flowers and rehearsal dinner (they are budgeting about 2k for that) and my mom gave us 3k towards the reception costs plus an unspecified amount towards my dress. So we''re looking at probably 15k for our budget. FI is adamant about not wanting to take out any loans for any amounts for the wedding, so we''re going to work within what we have.
We did exactly the same thing, and we had the same rule (absolutely no loans of any kind, absolutely no touching any of our savings). Our budget was strictly based on what extra we could save basically from the time we got engaged, on. And we kept it small, it''s looking like about 50 people when all is said and done.

It has given me a lot of peace-of-mind knowing that I didn''t waste too much money on this, and knowing that I won''t be paying any bills for it after it''s over. Sticking to the budget has been the most relaxing thing ever. It makes it very easy to say ''no'' to the seriously ridiculous stuff they try to sell you for weddings....
This is what we did as well. Once we figured out what we could comfortably save we told my parents that this amount was our budget and we were happy to plan on that but if they wanted things outside the budget they would have to pay for it. They tripled our budget, which was fabulous. Knowing exactly what we can save really helped our position because no one could argue with our logic or our desire not to go into debt. GL!
 

katamari

Ideal_Rock
Joined
May 18, 2008
Messages
2,949
Seeing as how a considerable percentage of Americans have negative net worth (~45%), I am not sure that would be a good baseline measurement. For me, a practical guideline would be the amount the couple could comfortably save from the point of engagement (here being defined as deciding to be married, not exchanging rings) to the ceremony that shouldn't be appropriated elsewhere (like several other posters suggest). Since the only thing you need to be married is a marriage license, all other expenses could be construed as frivolous, so there is no practical way to formulate a wedding budget. My personal opinion is that any amount that doesn't take away from the payer's existing and anticipated financial obligations would be the limit I would set.
 
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