Will you marry me? That magical phrase is shared between two people in love every day whether it be on a baseball scoreboard or with the entire family watching in the living room. Today student debt for Generation Y graduates is approaching an all-time high. About two-thirds of college grads in the Class of 2015 will graduate with some student loan debt. The average debt is about $35,000. (source: www.wsj.com). The real question couples should be asking when they tie the knot is “Am I marrying you or your debt?” With two daughters of my own, I don’t know if I’ll be able to get away with a $10,000 budget, but here is how to plan a fabulous wedding and do it for under $10,000.
- The Day Of The Week and Limit Guests – Most of us would prefer Saturday as the day of the week we get married. If the weekend is the only choice you have, Sunday can be a better day of the week to negotiate a deal especially if you are considering doing it at night. Many venues will be able to offer you the same sit down dinner on a Sunday night versus a Saturday night at a better price. The real key is to limit guests. Depending on the cost per head for the wedding, you can gauge your invites going out the door. Keeping it small will give you a chance to do this for under $10,000.
- The Venue – Is it possible to use your parent’s house or the home of a close friend that has a backyard to entertain your guests? There may be other inexpensive venues, but this type of outdoor wedding with (or without) a tent can save you thousands of dollars if you are running tight on your overall budget.
- Use Local Stores – Rather than going to the expensive wedding cake bakery in town, you should consider talking to your local corner bakery. In addition, you can also think about using the local grocery store for flowers instead of expensive floral arrangements. You can also limit your bar to wine, beer, and perhaps one or two house drinks along with iced tea and lemonade and still pull off a good time. Remember, the more fancy the venue and the more courses you serve, the higher your budget will run.
- Music – You could go for a five piece band with two singers or even a top notch local DJ, but the truth is that if you’ve chosen the route of a smaller wedding in a local or backyard venue, the music choice can be all up to you. Create your own music list and spend a few bucks on the right outdoor wireless equipment. You can also get a microphone to do toasts and announcements throughout the wedding. Nowadays, we can all create a great playlist with our phones and a Bose speaker system.
- Photography and Video – With many young budding photographers and videographers starting their own small businesses, you can usually get a good deal on someone to shoot your wedding professionally. There are many recent college graduates who specialize in this field and the new breed of photographers can get their business up and going quickly after graduation. If you want to really lower your cost, you can approach one of the local schools (like SCAD in Atlanta) to find someone to shoot the wedding at a reasonable price. The cheapest option may be to give each guest a disposable camera or leave one on the table to take pictures. I have also seen apps where your guests can take photos using their smart phones and can view them by going to a website that they can personally go to for pulling down photos later in the day.
Your wedding day will go by in the blink of an eye, but your memories will last a lifetime. The last thing you want to do is make a bad financial move and put yourself in more debt. So use these five money tips to do your wedding for less than $10,000.
Ted Jenkin is a frequent guest columnist for the Wall Street Journal and Headline News Weekend Express. He is the co-CEO of oXYGen Financial. You can follow him on LinkedIn @ www.linkedin.com/in/theceoadvisor or on Twitter @tedjenkin.
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