Do I Really Need to Save Money Now for My Child’s Wedding?

Credit: Sarah Fernandez / Chateau & BungalowI have heard parents talk about putting money away for their child's wedding for as long as I can remember. But with the recent state of the economy, few people are actually doing so right now. It is hard enough for most people to save money for their own retirement or their child's college education. Weddings certainly aren't taking a priority, nor should they. But, the problem with this is that parents are often being blindsided by the actual cost of a wedding (nearly $27,000 on average in the U.S.) when they are trying to enjoy the excitement of their child's engagement, and the experience becomes incredibly stressful instead of one of the greatest times of their life. Here's what you need to know about the cost of weddings, where to spend your money, and where to be frugal.

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Unavoidable Wedding Expenses
The truth is that weddings are expensive. Even if you are planning a backyard wedding, you can expect to spend a few thousand dollars on renting a tent, tables and chairs. It's unavoidable unless you already own those things, and if you opt to rent a function space, you can expect it to be at least that much, if not more. There is little you can do to avoid those costs, although you can certainly save money by having a wedding in a church hall instead of an ocean front mansion. It just depends on the type of event you are trying to present.

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You'll also need to feed people. This is a must, and it's not cheap. Most caterers are going to cost upwards of $50 per person, and that doesn't include the bar or the cake. Unless you can find a private chef who is willing to take on a large group and work to your price, expect to be spending at least $30 or more. Other than the actual ceremony, the food and beverage are the most important part of a wedding. If you have people coming from out of town for the celebration and staying hotels, they should be provided a solid meal, and I'm a firm believer in having at least one cocktail option that guests do not have to pay for.

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The easiest and sometimes only way to keep these costs down is to keep the number of guests attending down.

Adjustable Wedding Expenses
Despite the fact that some elements of a wedding are always going to add up, there are places in the budget where you can cut costs. Start with the dress. Nobody needs to spend thousands of dollars on a dress they're only going to wear once. Beautiful dresses of all styles can be found for under $1,000 (not that that is exactly cheap).

There has been a recent trend in DIY wedding decorations, and this is a great budget saver. However, keep in mind that you probably aren't going to have time to do everything in the days leading up to the wedding, so you need to carefully plan DIY projects, and bring in extra hands. Flowers can be replaced with potted plants, candles or other objects. The more flexible you can be about buying what's at your local market the day of the event, the more money you'll save.

The Bottom Line
Unless your child is heading to the courthouse and not having a reception, you can expect that you'll need at least $10,000 for their wedding. The least expensive wedding I've ever planned was about $13,000 for 100 people and that was not easy to pull off. That is half of the average cost of a wedding, and more often than not, at least where I live, weddings cost at least $35,000 and typically much more.

Do you need to start saving now for your child's wedding? That's up to you. How long will it take you to save thousands of dollars? But if you can, I would suggest putting at least a little something away whenever you can so that it can start earning interest in a savings account so that you are prepared should your child decide to get married and you plan to host the event. And if you choose not to, at least start educating yourself on the costs as you feel your child is nearing the age when it may happen. Chances are you will be shocked at how much a wedding costs, and it's better to be informed than blindsided when you are in the thick of planning.

This post was written by Sarah Fernandez of chateauandbungalow.com

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