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Weddings are back in a big way. Save money with these expert tips

Weddings are costly for couples, parents and guests. Use these tips and tricks to stay on budget, save money and celebrate in style.

After almost two years of postponed or scaled-back nuptials due to the pandemic, wedding planning is back in full swing. According to survey results from wedding website, The Knot, one out of every two couples who were set to wed in 2020 postponed their big day. Others had "minimonies" — or smaller weddings — but still had plans to host a bigger reception later on. All of these celebrations add up to a big wedding boom next year.

I sat down with Esther Lee, senior editor at The Knot, and Irene Tyndale, founder and chief event officer of Irene Tyndale Weddings and Events in Atlanta to talk about how engaged couples (and their parents) can plan a wedding that keeps their costs — and that of their guests — in mind. Let's call it the "I do's and don'ts" of planning a wedding, post-pandemic edition.

Step 1: Create a budget

Ready to start plotting out all those wedding costs? Lee says to open up a spreadsheet and plug in your total budget — and then divvy up your funds to account for these big and small costs:

  • 50%: Your reception — that includes facility fees, rentals, catering, food, alcohol and, yes, even the wedding cake.
  • 12%: Photography and videography.
  • 12%: Bride and groom's attire, hair and makeup and wedding bands (meaning jewelry, not music!).
  • 10%: Decor, including bouquets, boutonnières, flowers, table linens and decorations, etc.
  • 7%: Entertainment. Do you want a wedding band or a DJ? Bands often cost more than DJs so do your research now and adjust your budget accordingly.
  • 3%: Stationery: Save-the-date cards, invitations, thank you cards, programs, menus and more. Anything that's paper should be included in this bucket.
  • 2%: Officiant — if you're hiring some to marry you, budget in the cost of the officiant's fee or honorarium.
  • 2%: Transportation — not only for the wedding party, but also any shuttles or buses you might want to hire for wedding guests.
  • 2%: Favors for guests, including welcome bags and reception favors.

Planning a small wedding? Smaller weddings don't necessarily mean a scaled-back budget, explained Tyndale. "It's still a full-blown wedding day, it's just less people in the room," she said.

Who is the 'thriftiest' celeb couple?

Did you guess correctly? The answer is C.

How much are other couples spending on their weddings?

The average cost of weddings fell in 2020 due to the pandemic, but what do wedding budgets look like during a more "normal" year?

The answer is $28,000, according to The Knot.

You've been invited to a wedding. Can you afford to attend?

According to Bloomberg, wedding guests are dreading this big marriage boom. Now that pandemic restrictions are easing, couples are back to making grand plans to get hitched. But the couple's friends? Not so much — they don't want to spend all this money after what has been a grueling economic climate for some people.

Weddings are expensive — and the cost includes more than showing up at the ceremony and reception in fancy dress. You need to factor in everything from travel costs to lodging to the gift. Can you afford it? Ask yourself these questions before RSVPing:

  • Where is the wedding? Do I need to travel?
  • Do I need to pay for travel expenses out of pocket (airfare, car rental, hotel)?
  • Will the cost of travel force me to dip into my savings?
  • Can I replenish my savings within 1-3 months?
  • Do I need to buy the couple a gift?
  • Are there any personal life events that I need this money for?
  • Do I have an outfit to wear to the event?
  • Do I need to pamper myself (haircut, manicure, pedicure, shave) to be ready for this event?
  • Do I need to arrange transportation for the event?
  • Are there pre- or post-wedding events that could cost me money?

How much do you usually spend on a wedding gift?

I'm a parent. Should I pay for the some of the wedding?

We all want to support our children, but can you afford to pay for a wedding, reach your current financial goals and retire comfortably? Ask yourself these questions before volunteering to foot the bill:

  • Have I saved money to pay for a wedding or a rehearsal dinner?
  • Am I able to afford my personal goals?
  • Will I need to dip into my savings account?
  • Will I be able to replenish my savings account within six months to a year?
  • Will this interfere with my retirement goals?
  • Do I have enough resources for unplanned and unmitigated problems that may arise?
  • Am I able to contribute to one line item in my child’s wedding budget?
  • Do I get to dictate what my money goes toward for the wedding?