With the average cost of a wedding at an all-time high of more than $31,000, the tradition of the bride's family covering all of the expenses is becoming a thing of the past. Today, the couple themselves and the groom's family often share the costs of hosting the event. And it's not just the engaged couple and their families who bear a financial burden: between travel, lodging, and attire, wedding guests can also rack up their fair share of expenses.
Fortunately, with proper planning, it's possible to keep wedding costs under control. Here are a few pointers for enjoying the day without depleting your savings—whether you're footing the bill or simply attending the event.
If you're planning a wedding
Keep tabs on unexpected expenses. Asking the right questions up front can help you avoid unpleasant surprises as you review the final bill. Before signing any contracts, be sure you understand how the following items will be handled:
Negotiate hotel rates and amenities. As a courtesy to your guests, you may wish to reserve a block of hotel rooms for the night or weekend of the wedding. The guests still pay for their own accommodations, but by reserving rooms at several different price points, you may be able to take some of the sting out of the expense. Be sure to do this early, however; during peak times of year, hotels fill up quickly, limiting your negotiating power.
Besides discussing the room cost itself, don't be afraid to ask the hotel for amenities you'd like to provide to your guests. Consider the following extras:
If you're a wedding guest
Spend wisely. According to American Express, Americans will attend an average of three weddings this year—spending more than $700 at each. That number jumps to over $900 for millennials who are members of the wedding party. If you have a wedding (or multiple weddings!) on your calendar, try these tips for making the most of your money:
If you're contributing to your adult child's wedding
Be aware of gifting issues. For 2016, you can give $14,000 per person under the annual gift tax exclusion. If you give an amount over $14,000, you will need to file a gift tax return. This will also reduce your lifetime exclusion amount (currently $5.45mm). To prevent this, avoid writing large checks directly to the couple. If you plan to cover certain aspects of the wedding, it may make sense to pay the vendor directly rather than give money to the couple.
Plan ahead for a stress-free celebration!
A wedding should be a joyous occasion for connecting with family and friends—not a time to worry about overspending. Although wedding-related expenses may take your breath away, with a bit of careful planning, they don't have to derail your budget.
© 2016 Commonwealth Financial Network®