Getting married plunged me and my husband into debt and we had no one to blame but ourselves. But to be perfectly honest, I deserve 99% of the blame while he should have known better than to listen to me.
In my defense, I wasn’t one of those starry-eyed brides who dreamed of her wedding day before she could even walk. I was the antithesis of the bridezilla and was quite chill and laidback over the whole wedding business, however, being too chill and laidback was apparently just as bad as being too controlling. The good thing about the whole experience though was that it forced us to be financially responsible almost overnight and to work together as a team. Nonetheless, if I could do it all over again, here’s how we could have gone about it to save ourselves the headache of dealing with wedding related debt.
1. Come up with a budget. We got engaged Christmas day and got married on Labor Day —– that’s 7 months shy of the recommended preparation time in bridal magazines. But I was not worried because I knew we weren’t having a big production, just an intimate gathering of family and friends. And because of that mindset, we pretty much winged the preparations and did not talk about how much we could realistically afford to spend for the wedding, which eventually led to a rude awakening once we compared our expenses vis-a-vis our wedding spoils.
2. Do not treat your wedding as a starter fund. Some couples may recoup their wedding related expenses, but most don’t and you probably won’t either. Instead, treat it as party. You don’t expect your guests to pay for your party and have enough left over for a snazzy vacation right? It’s the same with your wedding.
3. Do not spend everything you saved on your wedding. Weddings last for all of a day, but wedding related debt can last forever if you don’t manage your debt well. Do not sacrifice your comfort and security for the next few months or even years, for one day.
4. DIY and delegate what you can. With a reliable printer, you can come up with your own invitations, misalettes, place cards etc. But don’t stop there, what about tapping your crafty friend to come up with fabric bouquets and accessories for your entourage? The possibilities for cutting corners are endless if you have your frugal hat on.
5. Save, save and save some more. Then spend only half of that for your wedding, leaving the remainder for your new life as a married couple.
Looking back now, we could have had a much comfortable first few months of being husband and wife if we only took the time to crunch the numbers for our wedding day, instead of relying on a shower of red envelopes to pay for everything. But for what it’s worth, it was precisely the challenge of getting out of debt that introduced me to the world of personal finance and investments, opening my eyes to the possibility of making my money work for me and not the other way around. So if only for that by-product, I do not regret our wedding debts at all. Or maybe not.
Cake topper and image by Chicago Factory
Jill Sabitsana works for the judiciary where she is paid to meddle in other people’s business. A blogger way before bloggers were deemed cool and influential, she writes about her take on personal finance over at Frugal Honey. She also holds fort at Mom Exchange and Kikay Exchange, niche blogs on parenting and beauty finds, respectively.