How to Recover Financially from Wedding Season (+ Plan for the Next One)

Originally posted on Career Contessa.

How to Recover Financially from Wedding Season (+ Plan for the Next One)

Ahhh wedding season! It’s a season full of love and celebration, but it’s also a season that can wreak havoc on our wallets.

Weddings are expensive. In 2018, the average cost of being a bridesmaid was $1,500. When you add up the cost of the travel, gifts, bachelorette party, and dress—and multiply it across multiple friends -that is a huge chunk of change.

These are big expenses that can hit all in one paycheck and make cash flow tight. If you’re feeling the financial hangover from a banging wedding season, we’ve got you covered with seven steps to recover and plan to make the next wedding season go a whole lot more smoothly.

Know we can grow and improve in our financial lives. Before we dive into the steps, I want to start with this. It might sound like a no brainer, but we can get better at dealing with our money—it's like any other skill. Just because wedding season (or the last five in a row) took us by storm and demolished our savings, it doesn’t mean we can’t learn from our experiences and plan differently for next time. This is important because it makes our financial missteps feel a lot less like fatal flaws and a lot more like opportunities to learn and get better.

1. CALCULATE THE DAMAGE DONE

When we spend more than we plan, it can seem easier and less painful to put our heads in the sand and try to ignore it. Believe me, I’ve been there! This approach often ends up causing us even more stress and worry because we’re not clear on what we spent and we aren’t sure whether or not we can pay our bills.

I find that many of us believe we’re worse off than we are. It can be really eye-opening and strangely liberating to go back and calculate how much we spent during wedding season. How much of that came from savings or is on a credit card that we’re unable to pay off?

2. PAY OURSELVES BACK

Regardless of how we covered our wedding season costs, we want to pay ourselves back. It’s a great feeling! Depending on what your expenses look like and how many things you are saving for, this can take some time and that’s okay. It doesn’t have to happen right away.

Decide on an amount per paycheck or per month to pay yourself back. Set that up to transfer automatically so you don’t have to think about it. This is a huge gift to yourself so pat yourself on the back for this one!

3. PLAN AHEAD FOR NEXT YEAR

Next, we look ahead to the coming wedding season and plan in advance. This is some major financial adulting. The further in advance we plan, the less pain we feel per paycheck.

Think through the next year or so, and list out each wedding you plan to attend. Don’t forget to include bachelorette parties, showers, and ancillary wedding expenses like dresses, transportation, and gifts. You will have to estimate a lot of these costs and that’s okay. We just want to use our best realistic guess. If you know someone is going to have a bachelorette party that you want to attend, but you aren’t sure where or when, include a lump sum as a placeholder. Better to overestimate than underestimate.

4. ADD IT ALL UP 

Add up all of your upcoming wedding expenses. If this number seems unrealistic, you might want to make some adjustments. That might mean saying no to a bachelorette party and throwing your friend a local celebration for just the two of you instead, or it might mean staying at an Airbnb or a friend’s place instead of the wedding hotel.

Have fun and get creative with this! With some creativity, we can create win-win scenarios where we aren’t giving up the things that are important while saving money! This is not about restriction or limiting our fun. It’s about making it all work and not forgoing our broader financial goals in the name of wedding season.

5. CREATE A WEDDING FUND

Then, we can create a special account for our wedding funds. I am a big fan of online savings accounts for this because they earn some interest, are free, and are out of sight, out of mind.

6. MAKE IT AUTOMATIC

We can then set up an automatic transfer to our wedding fund every paycheck or every month. The simplest way to calculate the amount is to take our annual wedding expenses divided by the number of paychecks we get per year. So for example, if I have $3,000 of expected wedding expenses in the next 12 months, I’d want to set up a transfer of $115 per paycheck ($3,000 divided by 26 paychecks) to my wedding fund automatically.

7. ENJOY YOUR WEDDING FUND

As you pay for wedding expenses, you can transfer the funds over from your wedding account. It is an incredible feeling to have the money waiting there for you when you need it! You can focus on celebrating without the money stress!