Whether you're in the early, mid, or final stages of planning your wedding, you've probably gotten the memo that getting married is expensive. (Based on data from the 2017 Wedding Report, the average American couple spent $26,000 on their wedding day!) Though it can be stressful to try to figure out how you'll pay for everything, taking the time to understand your finances will not only help you plan your dream celebration, but it will also set you up for future financial success, experts day. "Taking charge of your finances puts you in control and will alleviate a lot of the fears that you have about not having enough money," says Tara Murphy, consumer savings expert and former Editor-in-Chief of TheStreet.com. "Once you have an actionable plan in place, you can work towards getting your financial house in order and that will help you far beyond wedding planning." Not sure where to begin when it comes to setting aside money for your wedding? Not to worry—these expert-approved tips will help you and your partner figure out details big and small.
Map out your expenses and debts.
Though not a whole lot of fun, having a solid grasp on where your money is currently going is incredibly helpful. Whitney Ditlow, financial advisor for Northwestern Mutual, recommends calculating your fixed expenses (rent, car payment, insurance, and so forth) and starting to budget out what is left. "Usually, 30 percent of your take-home income should go towards your wants, so start using at least 15 percent of this as savings for the big day," she says. "If you can automate this contribution to a separate savings account, it's even better for your wedding budget."
Sell the things you no longer need.
Once you get married, you'll have an influx of gifts to start your life together, so there's no better time like the present to start purging. Ditlow suggests clearing out the old (purses, kitchen items, and home goods you no longer use) on platforms like Poshmark, Craigslist, or Facebook marketplace. "Also, if you and your partner have moved in together, you may have duplicate items in your home that you can sell," she adds. "This way, you will have more space and cash on hand for your wedding."
Edit out your subscriptions.
Subscriptions like Birchbox, Netflix, Spotify, and whatever else you may be signed up for might be bogging your expenses down—and you may not even be using them as much as you'd like. Ditlow recommends going through your credit card bill and see if you can cancel any of your subscription payments while saving for your wedding—it might save you some $200 a month!
Pay with cash.
"We live in the Venmo era, where we rely on payment apps to split bills with our friends and pay for all kinds of services, but like credit and debit cards, the convenience of payment apps has given way to many people not keeping tabs on how much is going in and out of their bank accounts," says Murphy. To gain control on spending in the areas that you're looking to cutback, she recommends paying in cash. "For example, if you've budgeted $50 for manicures each month, put $50 in cash aside to pay for them at the beginning of the month," she says. "Once the cash is gone, you'll have a psychological reminder that any additional spending will leave you over budget."
Use debt only if you have to.
While Byron Ellis, certified financial planner with United Capital Financial Advisers, doesn't ever recommend going into debt to get married, if you do end up charging expenses on a credit card or taking a loan against your 401(k), he suggests making sure you know that you can afford the monthly payment. "Pay attention to the interest rate that you are being charged," he says. "Do not blindly take on debt with interest rates that are too high."