AMHERST, N.Y. (WKBW) — Wedding days are supposed to create lasting memories, but they can also leave couples trying to cope with huge amounts of debt. The average cost of a wedding in the U.S. now runs between $27,000 and $44,000.
According to LendEDU.com,which surveyed 1,000 recently-married Americans, 86% of wedding debtors used credit cards, personal loans, and other forms of debt to finance their wedding. Of those surveyed, 72% with wedding debt indicated they could have had a simpler wedding ceremony but used debt for something more extravagant.
"There is a stigma around weddings. You want the biggest and the best. But at the end of the day, nobody is going to ask you what you paid your photographer," said Bethany Olzcak atLilypad Wedding and Events in Amherst.
Lilypad specializes in helping brides-on-a-budget cut costs. It offers this advice:
- The couple needs to sit down with each other and create a realistic budget before they start.
- Keep your guest list low! Not only do guests count towards the caterer's cost, but they increase the cost of invitations and favors.
- Don't be afraid to negotiate costs. Tell a vendor what you can afford and see if they will offer you a discount. Even if they can't offer a discount, vendors will often offer value-added options which could save you in other parts of your planning. (Example: A vendor might have table settings, vases or other items that you can use).
- Bundle services.
- Focus on creating a "signature wedding" with a unique, memorable element. People will not remember what they ate or drank - just the special moments. (Examples: one couple had a "Harry Potter" theme with handmade wands in all the glasses. An avid hiking couple packaged trail mix as a favor for their guests.)
- Wedding planners can save you money, even after their fees, since they already know where and how to get the best deals. Lilypad said it can usually save a couple about 10% over what they could have done themselves.
Where not to skimp:
- Don't go cheap on photographers or DJ's because they are key to capturing the day and making it enjoyable.
- Only use friends or relatives for photography if they have pro-experience and insurance to cover any problems.
- Remember professionals use better equipment.
- DJ's are the emcee for your wedding. Making a poor choice here will have guests leaving soon after they eat.
- Use caution with making your own floral arrangements. Lilypad said it has encountered many do-it-yourselfers who were scrambling at the last minute because they had dead flowers and silk flowers that were falling apart.