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Weddings can be one of life’s most exciting events – and one of the costliest. According to the Knot 2021 Real Weddings Survey, 49% of couples went over their wedding budget last year.
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So how do newlyweds bounce back financially after spending too much on their wedding? Here’s what financial experts recommend.
Prioritize remaining expenses
If you find yourself going over your budget before the wedding, you have a chance to minimize the remaining expenses. Taylor Westergard, financial coach and founder of Evolving Money, recommends couples prioritize the things that are most important to them and cut costs in other areas when possible.
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“Start going through your purchases and find things you can return, downsize or replace with cheaper alternatives,” Westergard said. “Be very clear with providers about your budget and ask for alternatives if they think your budget won’t work for their services. Be very clear with friends and family about your needs. You never know when a member of the family might have access to a service at a cheaper price or be willing to help you instead of a wedding gift.
Decide how you will cover the additional costs
If you’ve already exceeded your budget and can’t return items, you may need to get creative. Westergard encourages couples to consider taking extra shifts for a while, getting a second job, or cutting costs on other upcoming expenses such as the honeymoon.
“Be very careful when taking on credit card debt to pay for a wedding if you’re not going to be able to pay it off in a short period of time,” she said. “Don’t start your marriage with credit card debt that will cause financial stress and strain your marriage.”
Sell wedding decorations and gifts you don’t need
Some couples don’t realize they’ve gone over budget until the event is over. In that case, Danielle Miura, financial planner and founder of Spark Financials, recommends returning or selling wedding gifts you don’t need, especially ones you haven’t used after a month of marriage.
“A lot of people ask for expensive kitchen appliances, but they sit on their kitchen counter collecting dust,” Miura said. “Use the money you received to pay off your debt or create an emergency fund if you don’t already have one. And, as long as you’re not attached to your decorations and your wedding dress, selling your wedding items can also help recoup the cost of your wedding.
List every monthly expense – no matter how small
Dealing with marriage-related debt? It’s a good idea to create a monthly budget as soon as possible. Nathan Liao, Founder and CEO of CMA Exam Academy, recommends using a cloud-based spreadsheet to list all essential monthly expenses. This will include larger costs like groceries, rent or mortgage, and insurance as well as smaller expenses like toothpaste and medication.
“Setting and sticking to a monthly entertainment budget is also essential, as activities like going out to eat can easily deplete savings,” Liao said. “After setting the strict monthly budget, it is so important that the newlyweds do all they can to stick to this plan until they rebound financially. They should encourage each other not to not spend money on anything outside of the budget and always consult each other when deciding on a purchase that has not been budgeted.
Look for ways to cut costs in daily expenses
Once you’ve established a budget, look for ways to save on monthly costs so you can pay off your wedding-related expenses more quickly.
“That might mean taking the time to browse coupons in your daily life,” Liao said. “Or the next time you go to the grocery store, look for food items on sale and plan your weekly dinner menu around those items.”
Plan future events
To avoid going over budget when planning other major events, be sure to sit down with your spouse and discuss how you will financially plan for these occasions. Westergard recommends the “two-budget approach”.
“Set two different budgets: one for the ideal amount you want to spend on your event, then a maximum budget,” she said. “Draw and plan the budget for the first goal, but save and be prepared to spend your maximum budget. If you manage to stay within your target budget range and have funds left over, set yourself a reward, such as using the money to take a day at the spa or saving for another event in the future.
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