Let’s face it: Weddings can rack up a lot of bills. Case in point, the average American wedding cost brides and grooms $44,105 in 2018. To budget for a wedding ceremony and a reception, you have to take into account all expenses like the venue rental, the florist, the officiant, the caterer, the bartender, the band or DJ — and don’t even get us started on the cost of the perfect dress. However, with the proper planning and determination, you can make and strictly stick to a budget that will get you the wedding of your dreams.

How to make a budget

Use a planner like The Knot’s wedding budget calculator to make a savings plan and to stay on track with it. In addition to the expenses we already mentioned, you might also have to pay for equipment rentals like tables, chairs and the linens for them. Most people want to have a professional photographer and videographer to catch all those special moments. There’s gifts for your wedding party you need to account for as well. Make a complete list of every expense you’ll incur on the big day.

Decide where to splurge or at least where to put the bulk of your budget. For example, maybe your family and friends aren’t big drinkers so you can offer just soft drinks, or a limited selection of beer and wine. If your group is more of the foodie type, you could put the majority of your funds toward the catering budget and cut back in other ways, like buying a simple, elegant dress from a department store instead of a full-on gown from a salon, or doing your own hair and makeup rather than hiring a stylist and esthetician.

Set a cap on the amount of money you can spend. They key is to spend what you have, not to go into debt at the start of your new life together.

A little help from tech tools

Automatic savings apps like Acorns squirrel away a small portion of any purchase transactions you make, the idea being that you won’t miss a few cents when the dollar amount is rounded up. The app then invests your loose change in a basic investment portfolio of your choosing.

Draft a timeline from your engagement to your actual wedding day. If you know you have a set amount of time to save for your wedding, you can consider putting your money into a CD, which is a risk-free option for growing your dollars automatically during an agreed-upon set time limit (anywhere between a few months to five years). When the term of your CD expires, you collect the money you originally invested, plus the annual percentage yield (APY) as well.

Be frugal, save more

It can be difficult, but not impossible, to save for a wedding at the same time you are planning for one. Little things can add up though. Cut back on eating out or getting food delivered so much, and stop grabbing all those cold-brew coffees throughout the week. Batch cook large meals on the weekends and portion them out as lunches for yourself during the work week.

Pay your wedding expenses with a credit or debit card that offers you rewards like cash back or points for travel or goods. When you pay off the credit card bills with the money you’ve been saving, you’ll get points or cash that you can put toward things like flights or having cash-on-hand for your honeymoon.

While half of all couples spend less than $15,000 on a wedding, many celebrities spend millions of dollars on their nuptials — and your budget is most likely somewhere in between.

To speak with a financial advisor about managing your unique wedding budget, contact First United Bank & Trust.