Photo: www.ErinWallis.com

Couples engaged to be married have a lot on their plates as they begin planning their weddings. Whereas tradition once demanded parents of the bride pay for a couple’s wedding, nowadays more and more engaged couples are completely or partially financing their own nuptials. That means prospective brides and grooms must develop wedding budgets that won’t ensure their first act as Mr. and Mrs. is paying down debt.

A recent online study found that many couples still receive substantial financial support from their parents. The survey found that on average, the bride’s parents contributed 44 per cent of the overall wedding budget, while couples financed 43 per cent (the remaining 13 per cent was financed by the groom’s parents and additional sources).

Couples who hope to follow that formula or pay for their weddings on their own can heed the following tips to build wedding budgets that won’t break the bank but will still ensure a day to remember forever.

Examine your collective finances

Few couples know the details of each other’s finances before getting engaged. While some may still hesitate to share their personal financial information upon getting engaged, an open and honest discussion and examination of each person’s finances is the only way to develop a realistic wedding budget that both partners can live with.

Once couples know what they can contribute, they can then consult their parents to determine if they are intending to contribute.

Develop a preliminary guest list

A preliminary guest list can give couples an idea of how large and expensive their wedding will be. The average cost per wedding guest in 2016 was $237. While that cost can vary greatly depending on geography and other factors, couples should keep that figure in mind when drafting their guest lists. If need be, keep costs down by trimming the guest list so it includes only close family members and friends.

Don’t count on gifts

Many couples justify runaway wedding budgets by telling themselves that they will ultimately get the money back via wedding gifts. While many guests will give financial gifts, counting on such windfalls is a recipe for accruing debt. Do not build potential wedding gifts into your wedding budget. If you do so and your expectations fall short, you could be facing considerable debt upon returning home from your honeymoon.

Gather quotes before choosing a location

Where couples get married will have a great impact on how much money they will spend on their weddings. Venues within the same city can vary greatly with regard to pricing and offerings, so couples should give themselves ample time to gather quotes and find an affordable venue they like.

Over estimate

When determining a budget you can live with, remember to include a little extra for unforeseen costs. Weddings are large undertakings and it’s reasonable to expect some unforeseen costs to arise. Building such costs into your initial budget will make these unforeseen circumstances that much easier to handle.