How To Bounce Back Financially If You Go Over Your Wedding Budget

Beautiful laid boho wedding banquet table in Majorca.
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Weddings can be one of the most exciting life events — and one of the most expensive. According to the Knot 2021 Real Weddings Survey, 49% of couples went over their wedding budget last year.

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So how do newlyweds bounce back financially after overspending on their wedding? Here’s what financial experts recommend.

Prioritize Remaining Expenses

If you catch yourself going over budget before the wedding occurs, you have a chance to minimize the remaining expenses. Taylor Westergard, financial coach and founder of Evolving Money, recommends that couples prioritize the aspects that are most important to them and cut costs in other areas when possible.

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“Start going through your purchases and find things you can return, reduce or replace with cheaper alternatives,” Westergard said. “Be very clear with vendors about your budget and ask for alternatives if they don’t think your budget will work for their services. Be really clear with friends and family about your needs. You never know when a family member might have access to a service for a cheaper price or be willing to help you out in lieu of a wedding gift.”

Make Your Money Work for You

Decide How You Will Cover Extra Costs

If you’ve already gone over budget and can’t return items, you may need to get creative. Westergard encourages couples to consider picking up extra shifts at work for a time, getting a second job or cutting costs on other upcoming expenses such as the honeymoon.

“Be very cautious about taking on credit card debt to pay for a wedding if you aren’t going to be able to pay it off in a short period of time,” she said. “Don’t start your marriage off with credit card debt that will cause financial stress and strain your marriage.”

Sell Wedding Décor and Gifts You Don’t Need

Some couples don’t realize they’ve gone over budget until the event is already over. In this case, Danielle Miura, a financial planner and founder of Spark Financials, recommends returning or selling wedding gifts you don’t need, especially ones you haven’t used after a month of marriage.

“Many people ask for expensive kitchen appliances, but they stay on their kitchen counter collecting dust,” Miura said. “Put the money you received toward paying off your debt or starting an emergency fund if you don’t already have one. And, as long as you are not attached to your wedding decorations and dress, selling your wedding items can also help you recoup the cost of your wedding.”

Make Your Money Work for You

List Every Single Monthly Expense — No Matter How Small

Dealing with wedding-related debt? It’s a good idea to create a monthly budget as soon as possible. Nathan Liao, founder and CEO of CMA Exam Academy, recommends using a cloud-based spreadsheet to list out every essential monthly expense. This will include bigger costs like groceries, rent or mortgage, and insurance as well as smaller expenses like toothpaste and medications.

“It is also essential to set and adhere to a monthly entertainment budget, as activities like going out to eat can easily drain savings,” Liao said. “After setting the strict monthly budget, it is so important for newlyweds to do everything they can to stick to this plan until they bounce back financially. They should encourage each other to not spend money on anything outside of the budget, and always consult with each other when deciding on a purchase that wasn’t budgeted for.”

Look for Ways To Cut Costs in Everyday Spending

Once you have a budget in place, look for ways to save on monthly costs so you can pay off your wedding-related expenses more quickly.

“This could mean taking the time to look through coupons in your daily newspaper,” Liao said. “Or the next time you’re at the grocery store, look for food items that are on sale and plan your weekly dinner menu around those items.”

Make Your Money Work for You

Plan for Future Events

To avoid going over budget when planning other major events, be sure to sit down with your spouse and discuss how you will financially plan for these occasions. Westergard recommends the “two-budget approach.”

“Set two different budgets: one for the ideal amount you would like to spend on your event and then a max budget,” she said. “Shoot and plan for the first goal budget, but save and be prepared to spend your max budget. If you do manage to stay within the range of your goal budget and have funds left over, set a reward for yourself like using the money to take a spa day or save for another event in the future.”

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About the Author

Jenny Rose Spaudo is content strategist and copywriter specializing in personal and business finance, investing, real estate, and PropTech. Her clients include Edward Jones, Flyhomes, PropStream, and Real Estate Accounting Co. As a journalist, her work has appeared in Business Insider, GOBankingRatesMovieguide®, and various smaller publications. She’s also ghostwritten a book and hundreds of articles for CEOs and thought leaders. Before going freelance, Jenny Rose was the online news director for Charisma Media, where she oversaw three online magazines, hosted a daily news podcast, and managed the editorial content for the company’s robust podcast network. In 2014, she graduated summa cum laude from Stetson University with bachelor’s degrees in Communication & Media Studies and Spanish. During her college career, she won two awards for her research and was named “Top Senior” in both her majors. Find her at jennyrosespaudo.com and connect with her on LinkedIn.

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