No doubt, 2012 is a banner year for our family. My son Cliff graduated from the police academy in February. Then he married Amanda, my wonderful new daughter-in-law, in April. My daughter Bailey graduated from college in May and she married the studly Kyle on June 30.
I announced Bailey’s engagement here last August with an article called 12 Creative Ways to Pay for a Wedding. Thanks to Google, it’s one of the more popular posts on Q4NP.com. I would encourage you to take a look at it. Last week, I gave a brief summary of the weekend – mainly my battle with a sinus infection on my daughter’s special day.
In those two posts, I mentioned a follow up regarding how we paid for the weddings. The average wedding in America costs $28,000!! It’s scary to think about. No wonder more and more people are choosing to live together instead of marry!
I believe in the sanctity of marriage, and I strongly discourage couples from living together prior to marriage. So, how can we celebrate the marriage covenant and have a wonderful wedding ceremony without going broke? I’m not at liberty to share all the financial details with you regarding our experience, but I do want to share some things that may be helpful to you in the future.
Here are some thoughts with some retrospective wisdom:
Start saving now. I started mutual fund accounts for the kids when they were little. The primary purpose was for college, but they never got close to being enough for college. I put $25 a month in their accounts as much as possible. Honestly, I contributed to them mainly when the kids were little. Kids get more expensive as they get older. By the time they were teenagers, there wasn’t much extra to go into their mutual funds.
The funds weren’t enough to cover all of the expenses, but they sure helped. The good news is I didn’t completely drain their accounts so there is still a little money growing in those accounts for their future.
Rebudget. I’m not sure if that’s a word so I guess I should define it. Look at your budget and see what money can be moved to the new wedding budget. The second most important thing I did was move extra money in mortgage principal payments from my mortgage to the wedding. In 2011, I explained my strategy for paying off our mortgage early. I pay a good bit in additional principal each month. Since last August, I began paying the normal mortgage payment and I put what would have been additional principal in the wedding budget. In our case that was $400 a month.
Just those two moves alone covered 67% of Bailey’s wedding expenses.
Now, about that additional principal move. I never realized what a life saver that would be. Yes, my only motivation for paying additional principal was to pay our house off sooner. Yes, it may slow down that process slightly but I can catch up in the future and still have our house paid off in the next 5-6 years as planned.
I understand/assume that most people do not pay additional principal. I would encourage you to do so not only to expedite your mortgage payoff but also because in the event you need extra money like I did it is there and it doesn’t disrupt your monthly budget and create debt.
I also met with my financial planner and shared my plans with him last August. He was very affirming and helpful. It was nice to walk out of his office knowing we had a plan.
My kids are great! They know mama and daddy don’t have a money tree in the backyard so they were incredibly cooperative when it came to being as frugal as possible. Bailey spent days on Pinterest looking at fun and inexpensive ways to make her wedding pop. She and Beth made cool flowers out of coffee filters for the reception tables. Bailey and her maid of honor also made all the boutonnieres for the men in the wedding. Mine is pictured above.
Don’t assume that your son’s wedding will be cheap. If you have a son and think, “I don’t have to worry about his wedding.” Think again, my friend. I’m sure Kyle’s parents will agree with me that there are plenty of expenses on the groom’s side too. We wanted to help out as much as possible with Cliff’s wedding. We wanted their experience to be memorable, and we were willing to try to make that happen.
Another thing that happened but wasn’t by design was we refinanced our house. The rates were so ridiculously low that we ended up switching from a 30 year note to a 15 year note paying the same monthly payment that we were paying before. This has accelerated our payoff date from 12 years to 6 (or less!). When you refinance, you skip a monthly payment. Guess where my March mortgage payment went? Cha-ching! Another boost to the wedding budget.
Don’t pay attention to “Say Yes to the Dress.” Bailey watched this TV show a lot. It scared the crap out of me. It’s crazy how much people pay for wedding dresses. I don’t know if she wants me to tell you how much we paid for her AWESOME dress but I will tell you that we had a ridiculously low budget for a wedding dress and she found her brand new dress for HALF of our budget price. She didn’t have to lower her expectations for what she wanted and she and her mom had a rich experience trying on dresses and saying yes to her dress.
Food is expensive. We think we got a fair price but – dang! That was the biggest expense.
Professional photography and video doesn’t have to put you under. We were fortunate in many ways in this department. One, the groom’s family offered to pay for the photographer. God bless the Wilkinsons! Two, the photographer was a college student friend of Bailey’s. He has a photography business on the side. College kids who are trying to establish a market for themselves are cheap. This goes for graphic design, artwork, marketing, etc. This guy is good. Real good.
In fact, he is so good that when Beth went to a local photo lab to get reproductions made the store refused to do it. There were no watermarks or any identifying labels on the pictures. The guy in the lab said, “These are obviously professional pictures and we’re not allowed to reproduce them without consent.”
In addition, our videographer gave us a generous discount because he is a family friend and coworker. Thanks Ben!
It takes a village. We didn’t do both weddings alone. We got help from family and friends. I wish I could give you more details as to how they helped but I can’t. But it needs to be clear: We could not have done this without them.
Both weddings were beautiful! We have no regrets. Everything went as planned. And daddy hasn’t lost any sleep over the expenses. The savings account has been drained a bit. It will take us a few months to get it back to a comfortable level. But, overall, God provided a way for us to see both children get off to a good start! No doubt, this has been a worthwhile investment that will pay amazing dividends.
We are very, very, very blessed. Thanks to everyone who helped us make incredible memories for our family!
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