I honestly don’t know how we did it…
5 years ago, we were planning and paying for a wedding, we were buying a house, we were planning and paying for a honeymoon AND still paying off student loans (well, at least I was). What were we thinking? I have no idea. I still have no idea.
As a couple getting married in our 30’s, we felt that it was only right, since we had established careers and were financially stable, to not rely on our families to pay for our wedding when we had the means to do so ourselves. But here’s the thing. We had no idea how much weddings cost, other than “a lot.”
As we transitioned into planning mode, we discovered along the way that we had one secret weapon, that wasn’t money, that helped us save and pay for all those things.
What was this one saving grace? TIME!
We had an almost two-year engagement! Our long engagement was not purposely planned, however, but was a side effect of wanting a fall wedding in the Hudson Valley of upstate, NY, where we live. We got engaged in December 2010, and when we went to our first wedding expo in January 2011, every vendor we spoke to was booked for the Fall of 2011!
So…we waited. Was it easy? No. Was it worth it? Yes.
But you might be asking “How, exactly, does time allow you to finance your wedding, your honeymoon or a home?” Here’s how:
Time gives you the chance to set a realistic wedding budget
How can you set a wedding budget without first knowing how much services cost? We quickly learned that going to wedding expos and bridal shows is an excellent way to get a feel for the investment you’ll be making into your day and it gives you an opportunity to see what you get for your money. It gives you a chance to set a realistic budget. We had the chance to go to many shows, so we were able to get a good feel for the types of services being offered and had the time to compare vendors to see exactly what we were getting for our money.
The key here is to not set a budget, find vendors you like and then haggle with them down to meet your budget. Rather, you want to look at what each vendor offers, look at what you truly want and desire, then set a budget and find vendors that fit into that price range.
Time eliminates higher travel fares
We knew right away where we wanted to honeymoon. We both looked at each other, and seemingly at the same time said “Walt Disney World!” We’re one of THOSE couples that plans a visit there almost every year. Having gotten engaged there, it was a no-brainer to go back for our honeymoon. Though while it sounds cliché, your honeymoon is unlike any vacation you will ever take.
For many, a honeymoon is a chance to visit a “bucket list” destination or take a dream cruise to some tropical island. When traveling anywhere, the further out you book your trip, the cheaper hotels and airfare are. So, giving yourself enough time gives you the chance to book that dream vacation at a cheaper rate. If you don’t give yourself enough time, you could end up paying hundreds more for travel or having to forego that dream vacation because it’s too expensive.
Time, obviously, gives you the chance to save
In the midst of planning a wedding and honeymoon, we needed to tackle the giant elephant in the room which was buying a house.
Why would we want to buy a house on top of paying for a wedding? Well, our wedding was very important to us, but our marriage was more important. A nest egg, for us, was a natural progression. Our wedding represented a new beginning, and for us, that included buying a house and having something that was our own, together.
Anyone out there knows houses are NOT cheap, especially in New York, and are an absolutely huge responsibility! Depending on where you live, when you purchase a home, you may need to put down a deposit, sometimes up to 20% of the purchase price! Just think about that…20%!
If you tackle buying a house like planning a wedding – doing research, educating yourself, setting a realistic budget, and giving yourself enough time to save – it can be done. While buying a house isn’t for everyone, giving yourself enough time allows you to save money in a way that’s comfortable for you, that doesn’t force you to skimp and scrounge, and gives you the chance to see what you can save each month and what you’d be able to afford as a monthly mortgage payment.
So, what’s the moral of the story? Planning and giving yourself enough time is essential to making sure you can afford what you want WITHOUT added stress or going into debt. Sure, we all want to get married fast and start our ‘happily ever after’s’ as soon as we can, but sometimes you need to give yourself time. After all, good things come to those who wait…and plan.