I knew over 21 years ago that this was coming but I’m not prepared.
When my baby girl was born, I knew there would be a wedding one day.
She got engaged last week and the happy couple is planning a June 2012 wedding. Weddings can be extremely expensive. According to Bailey’s research, the average American wedding costs $27,000. We will – no, we must – pay far less than that. We’re only a week into this thing so there are still a lot of questions. We have a tentative budget – and it ain’t $27,000!
Here’s what makes it interesting. Last spring, Beth and I made a faith commitment to our church (TrueNorth Church) for our 3 year capital campaign to build a new campus. This pledge alone will stretch us. In addition, both of our children are in college and, needless to say, that is expensive enough.
Like I said, I knew this day was coming – and we are extremely happy for Bailey. We prayed for over 21 years that she would find an incredible Christian man to do life with and God has answered our prayers.
Now, we have to pay for answered prayers. (Kyle, you’re awesome!)
When the kids were little, I started mutual fund accounts for them both. I pastored small churches and Beth stayed home with the kids – a 10 year investment that has paid huge dividends, by the way. We lived paycheck to paycheck during those years and only occassionally was I able to put a little money in each of the children’s accounts. I knew college and weddings were coming but it just wasn’t possible to save for them at the time. We also learned that children become more expensive as they get older.
By the time Beth began working again, we moved ministry settings and had to buy a house instead of living rent-free in a parsonage. Hello, mortgage! Most of Beth’s income covered the additional expenses of being homeowners, so our financial situation didn’t improve too much when it came to saving and investing. But it has improved. 14 years later, we both contribute to our retirement accounts monthly and we are incredibly blessed in so many ways. But there isn’t much money laying around for a wedding.
All that to say here we are with a wedding less than a year away and the question is, “How are we going to pay for it?”
During TNC’s campaign, we provided a guide titled, “12 Creative Ways to Give.” I used it to calculate and pray over our commitment to the church. I’ve dusted it off and revised it as we consider how to pay for a wedding. Here are 12 creative ways to pay for a wedding.
1. Be a coupon clipper! Food is one of your largest expenses each month. If you saved $30 per week, that totals $1560 in one year.
2. If you eat lunch out during your workday, brown-bag two days a week. You’ll save an average of $15 per week. That’s $780 a year.
3. Have a yard sale.
4. If you expect an income tax refund check, plan to use it.
5. Plan to use a bonus or raise you may soon receive.
6. Adjust your vacation plans. Do something close and inexpensive like day hikes, picnics, or take a three-day vacation instead of a week and save on transportation and hotel costs. This can save $1,000 to $2,000 easily.
7. Make a commitment to drink only water at restaurants. One person could save $5 a week or more. That’s $260 just for drinking water – $520 for a couple. $1040 for a family of four.
8. Get the family involved in saving pocket change. Be intentional about filling jars with change. Every time you come in with change drop it in the jar.
9. Put off a discretionary major purchase and redirect the money to the Big Day.
10. Sell a car, boat, motorcycle, 4-wheeler, gun, camper, or RV.
11. Continue a bill payment. If you’ll be paying off a car, school loan, or other debt soon, continue to “pay the bill” by redirecting the money to the wedding budget after the bill is paid off.
12. A dollar increase per week. Start by setting aside one dollar the first week, then two the second week, then three, etc. If you were to keep this up for a year, you would have $1375.
Of course, you can also do the obvious like take on a second job or try to turn a hobby into a money-making business. I don’t have time for another job but I do have a book or two that I can try to sell this year.
One other note: One big expense at weddings is alcoholic beverages. We’re not a drinking bunch so this is not a consideration for us. But if you’re planning a wedding, choose not to serve alcohol. It will not only save you money but it will also assure you that no one will do anything stupid like pinch your grandma or get arrested on the way home!
I think we can do numbers 1-8 above and number 12. Numbers 9-11 don’t come into play for us. By just doing 1-8 and 12, we could have over $7700. With the money we invested in mutual funds, we may be able to pull this thing off.
So, here goes. Maybe I’ll keep you posted as we go through this process.
We’re excited about our upcoming wedding. We do not want it to be a burden. We want it to be a celebration!
What creative ideas do you have?
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