Budgeting basics for the newly engaged

When you first get engaged, the excitement and happiness can be overwhelming. You start planning your fairytale wedding, but then reality hits: How will you pay for all of this? It’s important for couples to decide what wedding features are the must-haves and what they can do without.  Here’s our best budgeting advice for the newly engaged:

Focus on what’s most important to you and your soon-to-be spouse. Is a specific location meaningful to you and you’ll pay a premium to be there, even if you have to focus less on flowers and decor? Or do you want your wedding to be extremely memorable for your family and close friends? In that case, maybe you’ll want to allocate more financial resources toward the entertainment and excellent custom gift bags, or little touches like custom coasters. Decide what’s meaningful to you and what you could compromise on or do without.

Establish who is paying
Some parents still pitch in for the wedding, but as brides and grooms are beginning to get hitched later in life, many pay for their weddings on their own. Decide up front how much you can/want to spend. If parents are offering to contribute, factor that in. Keep in mind that receptions typically take up 50 percent of your wedding budget, while photography and entertainment each take about 10 percent. If you have friends in a band that want to play at your reception as your wedding gift or for a fee much smaller than usual, this is a good thing to budget in as well.

Start early
Even if you’re planning to have a two-year engagement, start shopping around for different vendors and locations right away. You might discover that one reception location you particularly love has a 50 percent cheaper rental rate in the winter and, though you weren’t planning on having December nuptials, you might decide it’s for you after all.

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