How to Plan the Wedding of Your Dreams on a Budget

You’re engaged, congratulations! We’re sure you’re over the moon with stars in your eyes and visions of wedded bliss. You’ve probably been thinking about this day for as long as you can remember. You’ve got your Pinterest boards, a planning notebook, and you’re ready to hit the ground running. But, have you actually put a price tag on any of those ideas and visions?

$35,329

That’s the average cost of a wedding in the U.S. And that doesn’t even include the honeymoon! After hearing this sky-high number, you’re probably ready to simplify the process, save money, and elope. However, it’s absolutely possible to have the wedding of your dreams without spending well over what you can afford and without going into debt for years to come after the honeymoon. Prioritizing your must-haves, creating a strict budget, and allocating your money accordingly will go a long way in planning for your big day. So, let’s get started!

What’s important to you?

Before you can create a wedding budget, there are a few things you need to decide. First, determine what kind of wedding you want. What do you see when you think of your big day? A country club reception? An elegant downtown loft? A backyard barbecue?

Once you answer this question, have the budget talk with everyone contributing to the wedding. When you start talking money, make sure you talk about more than the total amount you’ll spend. For instance, break down the wedding budget into categories – ceremony, reception, decorations, etc., and decide what you’ll spend in each category.

Now that you’ve taken this step, you’ll need to determine the most and least important items on your checklist. Is there anything you can cut out altogether? Sit down with your fiancé and determine what you both REALLY want and let that vision guide your budget.

Track your spending.

Leave some room in your budget. No matter how down-to-the-penny it may be, unexpected expenses are going to pop up. Your budget will evolve over the planning process, so be prepared by giving yourself a little bit of a cushion.

If you hop on the web and search “wedding budget worksheet,” you’ll find a ton of different options. Find what works best for you. This could look like an Excel spreadsheet, a Google Doc, or one of the hundreds of templates available on wedding planning websites. Regardless of your template, tracking your spending throughout the entire process will be imperative. You’ll be able to ensure you’re staying well within the lines of your budget. Plus, it serves as a great guide or list to see what you’ve paid for, how much you’ve spent, and how much you have left to cover.

There are apps. Use them!

There are a few fantastic wedding-related apps that are either free or inexpensive. Use them! Most apps have the option to create free wedding websites, invitations, and save-the-dates. Get started with these suggestions:

  • ZolaZola has everything you need in one place. They even have a great selection of templates for you to design your wedding website for free! Your website is crucial for keeping your loved ones informed by sharing information about travel arrangements and relaying the important details of your big day. You can also build and manage your registry, design and order invitations or save-the-dates, and review your guest list.
  • ThumbtackPhotographers, DJs, bands, or florists – no matter what service you’re looking for, Thumbtack will have it. This app allows you to browse services in your geographic region to compare prices, check out reviews, and even talk directly to the vendor.
  • WeddingHappyAre you a list maker? If so, WeddingHappy is the app for you! It is the ultimate to-do list. It’s a great app that will help you manage your wedding-related tasks, payments coming up, and vendors you’re working with.

Your wedding day will be one of the most amazing days of your life! Don’t let money and budget-related stress take that away from you and your significant other. There are many options out there to make this day incredible – no matter what your budget is.

Once you have a set budget, financing your big day might be an option that comes up for you. Stop in and talk to us! At First Financial, we have a variety of financing options such as personal loans, lines of credit, and low-rate credit cards – that could help you with the cost of your wedding. Let us help you make your big day one you’ll never forget!

5 Nontraditional Ways to Save Money on Your Wedding

Your wedding day is one of the most important days of your life, but it can also be one of the most expensive. You want your day to be perfect, but with the average cost of a wedding totaling $25,200 – that price tag is hard to swallow. That’s a lot of money to pay for a few hours of celebration.

Thankfully, you don’t have to spend your life savings or go into a huge amount of debt to have a fabulous wedding. You can still have a beautiful day on a tight budget. Here are 5 tips to help you save on your special day.

1. Set the Date During Off-Peak Seasons

One of the first steps to planning a wedding is setting the date. Choosing the right one has a big effect on your budget. Wedding season tends to run from April to October, and during this time – costs can be a lot higher. If you’re flexible, consider scheduling your wedding during an off-peak season or less popular time of year. Additionally, Saturday is the most popular day of the week for weddings by far. While it may be slightly inconvenient for you and your guests, a weekday or Sunday afternoon wedding can save you a lot of cash.

2. Rent Your Dress

For women, choosing the dress is one of the most exciting parts of the wedding planning process. Your dress is probably something you have been dreaming about for years – but the fact of the matter is, most dresses don’t come cheap. Do you really want to end up paying thousands of dollars for a dress you’re only wearing for a few hours?  In order to avoid this, many women are now renting wedding dresses for their big day.  This way, you can get your dream dress and still save money.

3. Limit the Options at the Bar

Your guests will undoubtedly be looking forward to the open bar at your wedding. But, you don’t necessarily need to go all out either. To save money on drinks, you have a couple options. You could limit the bar to wine and beer only — just don’t forget about champagne for toasts! Even though the selection will be limited, the drinks will be flowing and your guests will still have a great time.

4. Get Creative with the Venue

Traditionally, most weddings are held in a hotel, country club, or banquet hall – but these locations tend to be the most expensive. To save money, get creative with your venue. Think of places that mean something to you and your partner – like a park, library, or aquarium. You might be able to get a good deal on a nontraditional approach to your venue. Just be sure to get all the licenses and permits you’ll need before moving forward with the ceremony.

5. Stay True to the Purpose

Wedding planning can definitely get a little crazy. And sometimes, you might want to spend more money just to please everyone. However, the most important thing for you and your partner (as well as your budget) to remember – is that the wedding day is to celebrate you merging your lives into one. Stay true to yourselves, and keep the purpose of the day in perspective.  If there’s one thing to remember, it’s this: stop stressing and enjoy the celebration.

Coming into your special day with the right attitude will allow you to focus on the true purpose of what a wedding is supposed to be. And doing so will allow you to have more money to spend on the honeymoon and your married life together!

Getting married in the Monmouth or Ocean County NJ area? Apply for a Financial Helper Wedding Loan from First Financial. We’ll help you cover the expense of your big day with a low interest rate!*

*APR = Annual Percentage Rate. Rates are subject to change. Maximum loan is $25K and maximum term is 60 months. Not all applicants qualify, subject to credit approval. A First Financial membership is required to obtain a loan, and is open to anyone who lives, works, worships, volunteers or attends school in Monmouth or Ocean Counties. A $5 deposit in a base savings account is required for credit union membership prior to opening any other account/loan. See credit union for details. Federally insured by NCUA.

Article Source: Connie Mei for Moneyning.com

How to Get Married Financially

Getting married can be a whirlwind experience. Between venue searching, trying on dresses, renting tuxes, assembling the bridal party, booking a DJ, and cake tasting – it can be easy to forget all that getting married means. Underneath the ring exchange and sharing of vows, there is a potentially life-long financial contract which you should also be prepared for.

Before you marry the love of your life, you need to get financially engaged with one another. Right now, disagreements over money are a top reason for separation and divorce. You have already popped the big question, and now it is time to ask a few more.

Here is a list of financial questions you should ask before tying the knot:

  1. What does the ideal marriage look like and how does it fit into our career goals?
  2. What is our savings plan going to look like? Our budget?
  3. Should we keep our finances separate, or join them together?
  4. Who will be responsible for making sure which bills get paid?
  5. What types of insurance will we need and how will we pay it?
  6. Do you have any loans or debt that needs to be paid off?
  7. Do you want a family, and if so – how big do you want our family to be? When should we start saving for college?
  8. What does our ideal retirement look like and how do we get there?

There are many keys to a successful marriage, but together you can make sure you leave out the poorer in “for richer or poorer.” Openly discussing your finances can keep you happy, healthy, and wealthy in your marriage.

Article Source: Tyler Atwell for CUInsight.com

11 Ways You Can Save On Your Wedding Day

If you’ve ever hosted a wedding of your own or attended a wedding, you definitely know how much it can potentially cost. From venues to flowers to photography, the expenses add up quickly. And considering that it’s actually only one day of your life, the cost of a wedding can be very daunting.

While weddings can get really expensive, there are ways to cut back without sacrificing the experience for you or your guests. Being strategic about how you stick to your budget can significantly impact your costs in a good way. Here are 11 tips to help you save on your wedding day:

Venue

1. Date: Flexibility is key when you choose the big day. Wedding season typically runs from May through October, with some venues extending peak season to November. Pricing for peak season is substantially more expensive – as much as 50% for some venues. Having your wedding outside of these months, particularly the winter, will save you quite a bit. Also, be sure to ask about July and August. Some venues will consider this off-peak because many couples prefer not to get married in the heat of summer. If you’re having your ceremony and reception indoors where there is air conditioning, outside heat won’t really matter.

You should also consider a Friday or Sunday wedding, instead of a Saturday. Many couples are also opting for weekday weddings as well, particularly a Thursday, if many of their guests are taking time off and flying to the destination anyway. Lastly, Saturday brunch weddings are becoming more and more popular. Afterwards, the bride and groom can take the after-party elsewhere while the night is still young.

2. Location: Location is also a big one. The cost of a venue can be astronomical in big metropolitan cities, but you can save a lot if you move the wedding just a few miles out of the city. This could be a great option if there is public transportation available or most of your guests are driving.

3. Guest List: Lastly, if you can’t do anything about the date or location, it’s time to cut the guest list. Think carefully about who you really want to be spending your big day with you.

Food and Drink

4. Bar: The bar is arguably the most important part of your wedding, but also one of the most expensive options. You can cut down on liquor costs by only serving a select few beverages. Many couples are also opting for beer and wine only or a cash bar these days, as mixing unlimited alcohol can get expensive and can potentially make some guests a bit too rowdy.

5. Cocktail hour & Reception: Many couples overdo it with the amount of food available at the cocktail hour and reception. You can have your cocktail hour serve only a few hor d’oeuvres, and your reception two courses instead of three (or cut down on your meal selection options – give your guests two choices instead of four). Your guests won’t even notice, and you could potentially save big bucks.

6. Cake: A cake is definitely a symbolic part of your wedding, but not everyone cares for it (or maybe they are too full to eat it after cocktail hour and dinner). To save, you can choose a smaller cake and have other desserts for your guests. Many couples are also going for cupcake towers instead, which are fun and much less costly. If you must have a large cake, minimize the decorations to save yourself some money.

Invitations and Decorations

7. Flowers: It’s crazy how much fresh flowers can cost, especially when vendors seem to automatically double the price when they know it’s for a wedding. Replace flowers with other decorations like candles or framed pictures. Also, look for flowers that are in season and limit yourself to two different types to save even more.

8. Favors: The best way to save on favors is to DIY. Gather the bridesmaids (and even groomsmen), to put together small treats for your guests. Candy is the easiest. It’s simple and something your guests will enjoy.

9. Invitations: Invitations and programs from a printer can cost several dollars each. Consider printing them yourself on nice cardstock if possible. Some couples are also going digital these days and sending invites via email.

Photography and Entertainment

10. Photography & Videography: You definitely want to remember your big day with photography and videography, but these services aren’t cheap. However, most photographers and videographers will work with you to find a package that fits your budget, so don’t hesitate to ask. Many will also give you a nice discount if you book your engagement photos, wedding photos, and videography together. Don’t be afraid to negotiate!

11. Band: Bands can really take your wedding atmosphere up a notch, but they also cost considerably more than a DJ. If you really want a band, consider looking locally. Many local up and comers would love the exposure and won’t charge as much as a typical wedding band.

Lastly, don’t forget to have fun. Planning a wedding can be overwhelming and stressful – but it’s your big day! Take the time to enjoy your first day as a married couple.

Getting married in the Monmouth or Ocean County NJ area? Apply for a Financial Helper Wedding Loan from First Financial. We’ll help you cover the expense of your big day with a low interest rate!*

*APR = Annual Percentage Rate. Rates are subject to change. Maximum loan is $25K and maximum term is 60 months. Not all applicants qualify, subject to credit approval. A First Financial membership is required to obtain a loan, and is open to anyone who lives, works, worships, volunteers or attends school in Monmouth or Ocean Counties. A $5 deposit in a base savings account is required for credit union membership prior to opening any other account/loan. See credit union for details. Federally insured by NCUA.

Article Source: Connie Mei for moneyning.com

5 Money Subjects You Need to Talk About Before Tying the Knot

Bursting the love bubble by sitting down and having a serious talk about finances is never fun, but open communication about money is a good idea in any relationship.

Since it’s wedding season, those thinking of tying the knot should have a serious discussion about money at some point, preferably before you move in together or actually get married. Even if there are no plans to combine finances completely, it’s still good to clear the air and see if you and your future spouse are on the same page.

Here are five things to talk about before moving forward:

1. Debt

One of the biggest things you need to talk about is debt. Get it out there. Even if you won’t be sharing finances, one person’s debt can have a profound impact on household finances. If you want to buy a home together or if you want to do other things, someone’s obligations can hold you back as a couple.

Have an honest talk about your debt levels, and see if you can make a plan to pay down the debt. Even if you don’t share finances, the partner without the debt is going to have to be supportive until the debt is paid off.

2. Credit

Credit goes along with debt, but it isn’t exactly the same thing. While it’s not vital that your partner have a perfect credit score, it is a good idea to see where you both stand, and be honest about the situation.

At some point, if you decide to get a joint loan together (for a car, wedding, or a home), both of your credit scores will matter. Talk about it so you know what you need to do together. If one of you has a poor score, you might have to wait a little longer before you accomplish some of your loan goals.

3. Money Philosophy

This is a bigger deal than you might think. It’s a good idea to know whether or not you have the same money values before you take that next step. Spenders and savers need to be able to come up with a plan to compromise. If you like spending your money on lots of books, and your partner prefers movies, you might need to come up with a plan to make sure you both get what you want at least some of the time.

4. How to Handle Kids and Money

If you think you’ll have kids together (and that’s another conversation you need to have before taking things to the next level), you need to talk about how you’ll handle kids and money.

Do you want to save up for college for them? How will you handle allowance? Extracurricular activities?

These are big questions you need to tackle together so you are on the same page. It’s vital to know early on so that you aren’t unpleasantly surprised later.

5. Retirement

Chances are, you both want to save for retirement. But do you have a shared vision for what that looks like? Before you commit to a long-term, life partner relationship, make sure you talk about how you want to handle retirement. It can be tough if one of you expects to sit at home most of the time, and maybe play golf a couple times a week, while the other wants to sell the house and everything in it to travel the world.

In the end, you need to make sure that everyone is on the same page so that all your money goals are being reached together. Take the time to have a discussion now, so there are fewer surprises later.

Article Source: Miranda Marquit for moneyning.com