Big Financial Decisions behind the Big Day

We are in the thick of wedding season, a time when all the characters in movies that shine a spotlight on the big day become a reality. From The Wedding Planner to The Wedding Singer and, yes, even Wedding Crashers—you’re likely familiar with the genre. As a guest, you get to enjoy weddings without feeling any stress. Those who are getting married, on the other hand, are hopeful that the decisions they made leading up to their big day will be executed to perfection.

Where do we begin?

I think the best place to start is to sit down together and come up with an overall vision for what you want your wedding to look like. At a high level, this should consist of a budget, the number of people, location, menu and time of year. Once you’ve established your overall vision, you can consult a wedding planner. They should be able to tell you straightaway whether your vision is achievable or far too ambitious based on those various factors. From there, you can start to dive into the details and make some important decisions.

What should we consider from a financial perspective?

I will state the obvious: weddings can be expensive. As I mentioned, hiring a wedding planner may be a great idea. Not only can they help with planning the event and serving as a mediator when disagreements inevitably arise, but a good planner will also know how to save you money with vendors and avoid common, potentially costly mistakes through the entire process.

It may feel awkward, but having transparent conversations with family members about how much they are willing to contribute is important as well. This gives you more clarity over your entire wedding budget and, therefore, will help you avoid unpleasant surprises. For example, your parents may be willing to contribute $5,000 but plan to invite 60 of their friends. Given the typical cost of weddings these days, the math doesn’t exactly add up. That scenario may leave the couple in a worse-off position. Guest count is often the main driver of cost. The other side of that coin is if family members are able and willing to cover the entire cost of the wedding. In that case, it may be harder to completely exclude them from the decision-making process, though I encourage parents to remember that it is their child’s special day, not theirs.

When it comes to sticking with a budget, couples should be open-minded as they plan their wedding. Although summer tends to be the most popular season for weddings, holding one in the winter can result in better negotiating power with venues and vendors, since it tends to be their slow season. Not to mention, a snowy landscape would make for some beautiful pictures. The same can be said regarding the day of the week. Getting married on a Friday or Sunday is likely less expensive than on a Saturday, which is the day many couples choose to wed. If you’re flexible, you can save some serious money.

How should we prioritize?

Nobody knows you better than yourself, which means nobody knows what your dream wedding looks like better than you. You’re likely going to be faced with trade-offs for financial reasons or other logistics, so it’s best to start by figuring out what the non-negotiables are. If your goal is to have the most fun with all your friends, you’ll likely want to focus attention on an open bar and good music. If expressing your personal style is important, the venue and food may be areas where you spend more money. You know what’s important to you, so trust your gut and plan accordingly.

What else should we think about?

  • Have you considered a destination wedding? On the surface it may appear cheaper and more exciting, but don’t forget the costs and potential inconvenience associated with travel—not only for yourself, but for your guests and vendors as well.
  • Family or cultural traditions may be an important part of the wedding ceremony, and may entail additional costs or planning to integrate successfully.
  • On the day of your wedding, be sure to take some time to yourselves to relish this monumental event in your life. The day flies by, so after all your hard work planning and budgeting, be sure to enjoy the moment and make special memories!


Michael Pappachristou, CFP

Michael Pappachristou, CFP

Wealth Advisor

Mike is Wealth Advisor at our Morristown, NJ, office. He is responsible for building client relationships, analyzing their financial pictures and providing recommendations to help them achieve their financial and legacy planning goals. He joined legacy firm RegentAtlantic in 2016 and was a member of the firm’s Financial Planning Committee, providing thought leadership across a range of financial planning topics. Mike appreciates working with families across multiple generations and keeping their goals and values in mind at all times.


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