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Victoria, TX 77901

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Whipping The Wedding Budget

With the chill of winter behind us, the wildflowers are popping up along the Texas roadways.

Shortly, the newspaper will be filled with engagements and wedding announcements.

Before you say "I do," it might not be a bad idea to figure out what you really want and what really matters in the long run.

No, I'm not talking about advice from any of the wedding planning industry or other enablers that are all too quick to tell you what you "need" for your wedding.

Most of those people derive significant benefit from steering you in a certain direction. Buyer beware.

Instead, focus on things of substance - like staying out of debt or following a budget.

Money, finances and debt are continuously cited as main reasons why marriages fail. Given this, a young couple should not have the added burden of an expensive wedding putting strain and pressure on a delicate marriage.

Furthermore, The Knot's Real Wedding Study of more than 16,000 couples revealed the average cost of a wedding was more than $31,000, excluding the honeymoon, last year. This was an increase of more than double the rate of inflation, even though fewer people were invited.

Making matters worse, 23 percent of couples had no budget and, of those that did, 45 percent blew right through it.

If you happen to have family that are loaded and determined to pay for the event, that's great; let them. However, if you are like most people, this is a pretty difficult hurdle.

Here are ideas to make that special day a bit easier on the pocketbook:

Elope. It's short and sweet.

Rings. The average engagement ring costs more than $4,000. Instead, a gold or silver band gets the point across quite well. There is no need for a big diamond that will cost three months' salary. When contemplating this, ask yourself: "Is the money better spent on something shiny with zero practical use or should we use the funds for a down payment on a house?" If you downsize the ring to a band, you also won't need additional insurance just for your bling.

Rent a dress. Do you really want to drop an average of $1,300 for a dress you'll wear once? Trust me, it will get crammed in the back of a closet and then you have the added expense of having it heirloomed.

Barter and/or get sponsors. If you've determined you cannot live without a big wedding, then trade for services. And if you can't find anything to trade, get sponsors. Ask family and friends to chip in to pay for the flowers, the music or some of the catering.

Limit the pictures. The average cost of a wedding photographer is now more than $2,500. If you want lots of pictures, have your guests take shots with disposable cameras. They'll be a lot cheaper and much more humorous.

Invitations. It amazes me that the average cost of wedding invitations is about $500. There is no need for an envelope stuffed inside of an envelope that is wrapped in tissue paper. Go get some nice stationary and print them up at home for less than $100.

Cakes. Wedding cakes average nearly $500 but run anywhere from $1.50 to $12 per slice. Seriously? For $12 a slice that cake could pay off some student loans. My guess is the $1.50 slice of cake tastes just as good, or better, than cake that is frosted in 24-carat gold.

The registry. Wedding registry's need to have two major modifications. First, don't ask your friends for anything you wouldn't buy on your own. Do you really want a sterling silver salad spinner or did you add it just because it was there?

Secondly, all wedding registries should have an added category entitled "finances."

The wedding registry should offer up the opportunity to donate to help the young couple save for a new house, retirement, pay off student loans, pay off the car or invest for the future.

Since no wedding registry is ever going to do that, I encourage you to invent that category. This will tell the young couple that prudent financial management does matter and you are willing to help them get their new marriage in order.

Doing any or a combination of these suggestions can take the burden off the couple-to-be and help them get started on wise financial habits while focusing on things that really matter.

Dave Sather is a Victoria certified financial planner and owner of Sather Financial Group. His column, Money Matters, publishes every other week.

Originally published March 17 2015, Victoria Advocate