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How to ease the sticker shock and still plan the wedding you want

Wedding costs, like college costs, are best saved for well in advance – like in utero, if possible. Not many can plunk down over $23,000 – the average cost of a Milwaukee County wedding – all at once, or even over the course of a few months. But, sayeth local experts, setting aside funds in advance can greatly ease the stomach-churning burden of paying for the big I Do.

Saving early allows for smaller monthly contributions, and having deposits taken directly from paychecks ensures that funds will actually be set aside, says Amanda Schlagenhauf, owner of The Bride Consultant in Milwaukee. You know, in case something more appealing than table linens happens to pique your wallet’s interest.

And Schlagenhauf means early. “It definitely doesn’t hurt to start saving even before the actual engagement,” she says. Set up the Big Day Fund in a single, joint checking account, says Terry Powers, an event planner with Golden Chic Events + Consulting. “This will help prevent racking up gigantic credit card debt and allow [the betrothed] to get some practice sharing a bank account,” Powers says. Having that available cash will make it easier to cover upfront payments required by vendors, and she suggests couples seek discounts from vendors, who often offer reduced rates for referrals or cash payments.

Expected guest count and the couple’s vision for the wedding are the main factors in determining a wedding budget, says Schlagenhauf. A budget for a DIY wedding with 100 guests will look awfully different compared with one for a 500-person, black-tie affair. No matter the size, says Janice Rosenthal, owner of Party Productions in Milwaukee, determining how much Mom and Dad can kick in, if anything, is a conversation to have in the first stages of planning. ◆

‘Runaway Budgets’ appears in Milwaukee Weddings.

Find Milwaukee Weddings on newsstands beginning Jan. 2.

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