Thinking of getting married? Get out your wallet.
The average cost of a wedding is as high as $28,400 by one estimate, and close to $26,000 by another. After plummeting in the wake of the financial crisis, spending on nuptials resumed its rise in 2010, and is once again approaching the record set before the financial crisis.
“In today’s environment, the bride and groom are paying more of the cost. When the economy was different, that’s why you saw it go down,” said Shane McMurray, president and chief executive of theweddingreport.com. Now “they’re willing to spend a little more.”
The substantial spending on weddings comes as consumers are generally regaining confidence, so in that sense it is just part of a larger trend. But the increase has also been abetted by the companies that sell wedding accoutrements, from gowns to ring pillows, for the big day.
Then there are the social media sites where couples planning weddings can find endless ideas for attire, entertainment, décor and more — with no price tags attached. The wedding boards at Pinterest, for example, drive significant traffic to purveyors of wedding-related goods.
If you are determined to keep your wedding costs in check despite the various pressures to spend big, experts have a slew of suggestions.
For starters, size matters. “The No. 1 thing you can do to keep your wedding costs down is to keep your guest list down,” said Dena Davey, director of marketing for the Association of Bridal Consultants.
Spending per guest reached $204 in 2012, according to the wedding website theknot.com, which conducts an annual survey of wedding costs. So the potential savings from a smaller ceremony are clear.
Another way to save is to think outside the box when it comes to timing. Saturday evening weddings tend to be the most expensive, Davey said, since they usually involve a dinner reception and event spaces often charge more for that time. “Fridays and Sundays are really popular right now.”
You may also be able to find bargains if you get married in the off-season. June and December are the most popular months for weddings, so vendors may be more willing to negotiate if you are talking to them at other times of the year.
McMurray suggested taking a look at the elements of the wedding that don’t have to be custom-made or individualized as areas for savings.
“When it comes to the dress and other specific, custom things, there is not a lot of room for DIY,” he said. “Invitations and favors — all of those components are very easily made with today’s technology.” The range of options for photography and music are also wider, he added.
Flowers offer additional opportunities for curbing costs. Something pretty is blooming any time of the year, and if you stick to seasonal blooms, you will save.
And remember, while there are plenty of blogs and websites that spur you to spend, there are also lots of sites that point to ways to save.
The biggest savings suggestion? Focus on what you’re doing, not the things you’ll have around you. Perfect flowers or not perfect flowers, your wedding day is likely to be magical.
–Kelley Holland, CNBC