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How Do I Budget For My Wedding? Mint Answers

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and you know what that means: at romantic dinners or beach strolls throughout the country, hopeful bachelors will get down on one knee and propose to their sweethearts. Then, after the overjoyed and possibly tearful “Yes” and a ring have sealed the deal, it will begin: the frenzy of wedding planning.

At an average $24,070, according to The Wedding Report, and easily double that in big cities, even the most budget-mindful couple could find itself in debt after their big day. That is, unless their wedding plans include some careful budget planning, as well.

In this Mint Answers roundup, we feature questions from Mint users that focus on weddings: how to save, how much to spend on a gift, how far in advance to start planning, how much to expect our guests to spend?

Click on the links to read more answers or to chime in with your response.

How can I save for a wedding?

My fiancé and I have a budget of $10,000 for our wedding, that we are saving for. Any tips? I am from Cleveland, Ohio, and our date is 9/9/2011.

Answers:

1. A savings calculator like this one at Bankrate will tell you how much you need to be setting aside monthly. Most financial planners will tell you to make your savings automatic either via payroll deduction to a savings account or a scheduled monthly transfer from checking to savings. Here’s a short article on the subject from about.com: Make Saving Automatic. Best of luck!

2. As a matter of following up, how was that $10,000 number decided on? Was it randomly picked out of the air? Unless you already have made some purchases and down payments, I would suggest you and your fiancé go through your finances and determine what a reasonable amount for your wedding would be. This would be based on how much money you each can put away for it, and any helpful donations from family members.

I would set up a completely separate bank account that both your future hubby and you auto direct-deposit a portion of your paycheck to.

3. Once you know your goal amount take a look at SmartyPig.com.

They are a savings oriented bank. It does not work like a traditional bank and you get a higher interest rate.

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Daughter’s wedding budget

At almost 50, we haven’t saved for our daughter’s wedding which will most likely take place within the next 5 years. How would you recommend us saving $20,000 between now and then?

Answers:

1. If you have the power to predict your daughter’s wedding date, I have some other predictions I’d like you to weigh in on. Have you spoken to your daughter about this?

You’re entering a critical period for retirement savings. Can you save this much without endangering your retirement plans? If you’ve already thought about all of that, the way to do it is to set up a special savings account (or you could use a short-term bond fund) just for the wedding. Set up an automatic monthly or weekly (however often you get paid) transfer of as much as you can afford without reducing your retirement savings. Deposit any “extra” income in that too: the coin jar, bonuses, stuff you sell on eBay, etc. Oh, and I’m sure you already have a big picture of your daughter in a high-traffic area of your house to remind you why you’re doing this. Best of luck. I’d do anything for my daughter, but I kind of hope that if she gets married, she has an impromptu small wedding like I did.

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How much is an appropriate wedding gift for a sister?

My sister is getting married.  My wife and I are in the wedding, and we’ve already spent a good amount on her wedding (tux rental, dress purchase & alterations, wedding shower gift, bachelor and bachelorette parties).

So, what’s an appropriate gift amount?

Answers:

1. Sounds like a question for Miss Manners.

Hopefully your sister knows that you’ve been funding part of her wedding. So, if your finances are being strained, then a card expressing your heart felt congratulations and your appreciation for letting you be a part of their wedding should certainly be enough.

If you are the charitable type, NOW is the opportunity to help them out with a monetary gift during a time when they may need it most. If you were to give $200 as a wedding gift, it might be easier for them to accept than if you gave them $200 for a birthday because that type of gift on a birthday is not normal. Most people have a sense of pride and don’t like to be thought of as a charity case, so if they need the help, now’s your chance. If they don’t need the help, go back to the card idea.

2. Tough question. I think it depends on how well off you are right now. If my sister participates in my wedding party and spends lots of money on that, to be honest, I wouldn’t expect her to give me an expensive wedding gift. Maybe something small as a token to remember the day and her thoughts about it, but nothing huge.

Certainly if you have the money then go all out. The sky is the limit. I agree about this being a good opportunity to donate without it seeming like a charity case. But if you can’t afford that, I’d say something under $100.

3. Between what you make in a day (low side) and a week (high side). But no more than you can afford to give.

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How much should I expect someone to pay to attend my wedding? Wedding party or just guest (range)?

Answers:

1. Are you deciding whether to have a destination wedding? Or just the budget for bridesmaid dresses?

No matter what you do, some guests and wedding party members are going to grumble about the cost, so you have to weigh awesomeness against disgruntled guests. There’s no easy answer.

2. As far as guests go: I wouldn’t expect anyone to pay anything to go to my wedding. I’m the one throwing the party! If that means it’s a low-budget wedding in general, I’m perfectly okay with that. I’d hope they tip the bartender.

3. In the US, Nothing, they are guests. I know there are cultures that do have different views.   

In US, the guests are expected to bring gifts to their ability to afford them, but none are required.

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Do you have a wedding question of your own? Go to Mint Answers and ask away! While you’re there, feel free to answer questions from other community members. Come back often, as we introduce new enhancements to the platform.