How to pay for everything else that isn’t the wedding

As much as I love discussions about wedding budgets, and I think there’s not nearly enough of that going on, I also think they’re a bit misleading. In the bigger financial picture, there is so much more to getting married than putting on a wedding.

Things that are not in my official wedding budget, but are marriage related include:
Rings. And I didn’t even have an engagement ring, which let’s face it, is common practice and tends to be costly. We are having wedding rings though, and those things are important to me and something we intend to wear forever. So it’s not a trivial cost.
Honeymoon. Hello. WHY does no one talk  about how they financed the honeymoon.
A physical photo album. Turns out, digital files get corrupted. I’ve got my eye on A La Carte Albums*.
Makeup, shoes, jewellery or any other thing that will get re-used but still has to be bought for the wedding.
A thousand incidental costs that will occur close to the wedding. Stuff like picking people up from the airport, making sure we have enough sheets, pillows etc. for everyone who’s staying over, taking visitors out on site seeing excursions. Giving them lots of cups of tea.

In addition, many like to indulge in such pleasures as
A rehearsal dinner, which is evidently A Thing in the States, but happily is yet to become A Thing in other places, as far as I can tell (long may this last!).
An engagement party.
An engagement
‘sesh’ oh god that term is like nails on chalkboards. Please just say session. While we’re at it, please tell me that I am not the only one who finds the term ‘adorbz’ to be kind of, irritz. It’s just really annoyz.  It makes me want to have a stomping sesh.  
Honeymoon attire. 

And probably a bunch of things I couldn’t even think of. Oh yeah, and I also just remembered that some time next year, M and I will be having a second wedding reception in our hometown, Auckland, for all the peeps there that couldn’t make it.

So that’s all quite a lot. And if you are following the guidelines of basic personal finance advice, you should be doing all of this without a) going into debt, or b), sacrificing your long term savings.

Back when I wrote the How to Decide on Your Wedding Budget series, I talked about the fact that typically you might have 10-20% of your annual post-tax income to spend on stuff that isn’t bills and other day to day expenses. So I reckoned 10-20% was a reasonable wedding cost, and chose 10% as the benchmark to use as a way of erring on the cautious side. But now I realise that it wasn’t cautious at all: you’re probably going to need the entire other 10% to fund all this other stuff. And this is assuming you don’t have even more financial demands the year leading up to your wedding – student loans, an emergency, a friend’s wedding in Bali to attend. A period of unemployment. Gah!

There’s really no way around it. The year before your marriage is going to be expensive. Your options are going to be to keep the actual wedding costs at 10% or less of your income, and watch what you’re doing with the engagement, honeymoon plans, and rings whilst hoping to have no emergencies, to keep the total under 20%, OR since a lot of people are already under a lot of financial pressure and don’t have that money to spare, do without all those extras. Though you probably still want rings. In light of my revelation the other week that plenty of people can’t really manage even just the wedding without family help, all of this is pretty bleak.

Ultimate moral of this story: I wish the majority of wedding blogs were about small budget weddings.  Sigh, what’s new.

*This company will edit your wedding photos and compile them into an album.  I really dig this because it meshes perfectly with the idea that your wedding photos are going to be taken by lots of people (ie, a few by professionals plus lots by multiple guests). A La Carte Albums will put them into a coherent narrative. Such a great option for those of us who can’t afford/refuse to buy the big packages from photographers.


6 responses to “How to pay for everything else that isn’t the wedding

  1. I don’t have an engagement ring – they’re not a thing here (thankfully, since we wouldn’t be able to afford one). The wedding bands aren’t that important to us and we’re not sure we’ll be wearing them so we didn’t spend much on them (about 80€ for both) and I’ve included them in the tally of the wedding costs (which, by the way, we’re at around 2000€ right now… it’s scary to think about it, haha)

    Honeymoon: My parents are giving us the plane tickets and many of the hotel nights as a gift. We save for a vacation every year, so instead of going on a vacation this month (August) we’re going away for the honeymoon and using our usual “vacation” money to pay for the rest.

    Physical photo album: will design it myself and have it printed afterwards, but I don’t expect it to cost more than 50-100€. By the time I’ve designed it it’ll probably be next year so we have time to pay for that haha.

    Makeup, jewelry, shoes, etc: I’ve included those in my wedding budget, although I recognize that I’ll be using most of this stuff later on (especially the shoes and the earrings) and if I removed them it would make my wedding costs look smaller, but I just want to be honest with myself about how much we’re spending.

    Thousand incidental costs: these keep popping up and are wrecking my wedding budget. For example, we decided on a professional photographer when we thought we didn’t have to pay for the venue nor table & chair rental, and then it turned out that we couldn’t use that venue. We still got the venue for free but not the tables & chairs, which will be almost 500€ (yeah, insane). Thankfully our grandparents gave us pretty generous monetary wedding gifts which we’re using to pay for that stuff. So yeah, basically we’ve needed help from our families 🙂

    No rehearsal dinner or engagement party for us, either.

    The engagement session was part of our photographers’ deal.

    Honeymoon attire: um, yeah, I’m not buying anything for the honeymoon. I seldom buy clothes (except when I’m on vacation. The urge to shop for clothes seems to be bigger while I’m on vacation so I save all my money for the occasion).

    Sorry for the extra-long comment! I find this stuff really interesting and I thought others might want to know real people’s take on it 🙂

    • Don’t worry about length, the more comment the better! You already know how bloggers feel about comments 🙂 I do think its a really good thing for people to discuss their take on it, so thank you for putting it out there. I really wish everyone would be more upfront with this stuff. I do seem to have found a small circle of bloggers who are willing to be, so that will do for now I guess!

      Good point about the travel – of course, for people who like to travel, they would have done it anyway, so in that sense its not an extra cost. We fall into this category too. (On the other hand, we probably will be traveling less than we would have without the wedding to deal with).

      Man, I really felt for you with the whole venue fiasco you had. I haven’t really got any more to say about that, except, my sympathies. That must have sucked.

  2. I completely relate to this post. No matter how hard you try to stick to a budget, there will come a point where you’re so stressed by everything that has to be done that your answer to any issue that arises will be to throw money at it. Trying to save money while planning a wedding means doing constant battle against an industry that wants to bankrupt you. That’s fine at the beginning; it can even be quite fun. But when your wedding’s days away and you still need to make a million decorations or confirm x, y and z with your caterers, you simply can’t fight for every last penny they’re squeezing from you. So, yes, you need an “everything else” budget and it probably needs to be quite big. 😦

    • So true. In my case, it looks like we’ll be having more guests than I had previously anticipated. Right now my approach is that within the wedding budget itself, the most flexible item is the flowers and other decor. So the food and drinks for each additional guest is subtracting from my flower budget. When it comes time to actually buying those flowers in the week before the wedding, I’m not sure if I’m going to say screw it to the budget and get them anyway, or if I’m going to say screw it to the flowers and just stop giving a shit.

      And I’ve already gone over budget by buying my two adorable flowergirls tutus. Actually I didn’t even have a budget line for that. So I’m telling myself that its really a gift to the girls, and wearing them at the wedding is incidental…but really, its still money I wouldn’t otherwise have spent. And I’ve already racked up a bunch of other examples of the same phenomenon.

      OK so I realise I’ve kind of strayed from your point here. All the best with final catering negotiations, my dear! xx

      • Haha, stray away! I don’t know what the answer is. I guess at some point you just have to cross your fingers and hope the numbers add up after the event!

  3. Stumbled on your blog, lo these many years later. For any brides who want to know about how we paid for our honeymoon: It came out of the money gifts people gave us. We spent $800 (this was in 1988, y’all) total. We drove to Niagara Falls, Canada, and stayed for about a week. Didn’t even make reservations. Brought our AAA guidebook and chose a motel from it on the spot. Worked out fine!

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