A Guide to Saving for a Wedding and First Home

The average wedding in Indiana is anywhere from $25,000 to $30,000 and average home prices are $160,000 to $170,000. This can make planning a wedding and looking for a first home feel like an impossible feat—but rest assured, it isn’t! Through planning and strategic budgeting, it is possible to accomplish both in the same window of time.

Costs to Consider for Weddings and Homes

As a couple ready to make these two major life decisions, discuss what you are looking for in both areas. As you prepare for the discussion, it helps to go in knowing a little how weddings and the home buying process work. Once you have a baseline knowledge, it will help you set goals.

  • Weddings: When planning a standard wedding, you will need to consider things such as the venue, food, beverages, save-the-dates and invitations, entertainment, photography and videography, attire, rings, flowers, guest favors, décor and transportation.
  • Home buying: As you purchase your first home, your down payment is not your only cost associated with the sale. There are also closing costs, property taxes and homeowners’ insurance.

Set Goals

Get started with your goal setting and throw your budget out the window for a moment. Lay everything out on the table.

For the wedding, discuss the size, location, number of guests and anything else your heart is set on. Next, what do you both want in a home? Consider bedrooms, bathrooms, features, location, etc. From here, explore prices in desired neighborhoods and talk to your realtor.

Set a Budget

After you both agree on a list of priorities, it is time to set the budget. From here, you can work backward and find areas to compromise.  The planning process can be helpful if you will have family contributing—but even if you don’t, you can still make both happen. If either of your families will be contributing, politely ask what the contribution will be, allowing you to set your own budget.

For home expenses, Hoosiers participating in a first-time home buyers program usually put a minimum of three to five percent of the total cost down. For your wedding, several of the vendors request you pay a deposit to hold services. Since you will not have yet chosen wedding vendors, anticipate on paying $2,000 to $5,000 upfront.  

When all is said and done, you could be looking at an initial out-of-pocket for your wedding and home costing around $15,000.

Creating a Timeline

Now that your budget is set, create a timeline to reach your goals. This includes your short-term goal of $15,000, as well as long-term goals when you have to pay the final bills. Evaluate if you can save for both, or if the two of you prefer to get married or buy a house first. It is perfectly fine to create a gap in between.  

In fact, several couples find it easier to have the wedding then combine existing savings and wedding gift contributions into one pile for the home purchase. In lieu of registering, you can politely recommend guests who wish to give a gift to provide a monetary donation towards your down payment.  

Managing Finances

The key to managing your finances when saving for major purchases is to know exactly what is going in and out of your bank accounts at all times. Take inventory of all of your monthly expenses, such as your current rent or mortgage payment, car payments, cable and phone bills, subscription services and all other routine monthly bills. Next consider how much you spend regularly in other areas such as groceries, entertainment, pets, children or gas.

This is also the ideal time to discuss how to handle finances as a couple. You may prefer to combine all into a joint savings or save separately. As long as you both can responsibly spend and save money in ways that meet your milestones and goals, you are on the right track.

For assistance managing your finances, you can use a standard check register or check register smartphone app to keep track all transactions. There are also several apps available, including free ones, that help you properly manage your finances. Popular ones include Mint, Digit, Qapital, Clarity Money, HoneyFi and You Need a Budget.

Be sure to ask your bank about free services they offer to help you both save, too. In many cases, you can automate the flow of your bills and expenses, as well as receive reminders for account balances, money transfers and more.

Tips for Saving Money

Your best way to save money is to not spend it. Easier said than done, right? Get started by looking at your newly created budget. What services are not essentials that you can eliminate? For instance, the gym membership you haven’t used in months or the monthly subscription box service where you don’t even like all of the products. It is also crucial to look at your routine expenses such as dining out, coffee, etc. Cut accordingly.

Some of the cuts will be difficult at first, so just remember you are making short-term sacrifices for long-term gains. Make sure everything you both save goes straight into your wedding and home savings bucket.

Next, look for ways to cut your bills. Ask your cable company for deals—or consider cutting the cord altogether and use a streaming service such as Netflix or Hulu. If you have been with your car insurance company (or similar services) for years, remember just because you have been a long-term customer doesn’t mean you’re getting the best deal. Do not be afraid to shop around.

For grocery shopping, use car-side pickup services available through places like Kroger and Walmart. This allows you to take more time to browse through items to find the best prices. It will also help you stick to a weekly grocery budget thanks to the elimination of impulse buys. Walmart does not charge for their pick-up and after your first few visits, Kroger will charge $5. Even with the charge, you will find a reduction in your grocery bill and will love the time savings too.

Consider Side Hustles and Ways to Make More Money

When you have cut all you can cut, and it’s still not cutting it for your wedding and home savings fund, you may have to look into alternative ways to supplement your income. Today, many people have a second job, which is commonly referred to as a “side hustle.”. You will be surprised at how any side hustles are actually an enjoyable way to spend extra time! Common ones include:

  • Freelance blogging
  • Driving for Uber or Lyft
  • Amazon delivery
  • Grocery shopping and delivery
  • Odds and ends
  • Babysitting
  • Cleaning services
  • Virtual assisting

Be sure to pay attention how taxes are taken out for your side hustle. In most cases, individuals will be hired on as a contractor, or will be self-employed—meaning you are 100 percent responsible for paying your taxes. You can make payments to the IRS throughout the year or can pay in one lump sum during tax time.

Anticipate on saving at least 30 percent of your earnings for taxes. For your best estimate, work with a local tax person and plan. You can also have more taxes taken out from your full-time job. This will help you from tapping into your tax-savings pile.

Where to Cut Costs During Wedding Planning

Once you cut your monthly budget and find ways to make extra cash, make cuts and compromises to your wedding. Get this started by talking to multiple vendors. Explore a few for each service to get a gauge on the best prices. A great way to save is to find an inclusive vendor. Often times, this will roll up many of the services and expenses in one bill—saving you both on individual deposits and overall costs. Weigh the pros and cons (and pricing) on a venue where you bring in all of your own vendors vs. venues that handle several things.

Your venue will help with much of the planning—in many cases eliminating the need for a wedding planner. All can be done on your own. When choosing your food and beverage menu, find ways to reduce costs. Perhaps you limit food and alcohol during a cocktail hour or look into creating a buffet out of appetizers.

For décor and design, people will not remember what color your centerpieces were or what the food was actually like. They’ll remember their experience. That being said, reduce costs on décor, especially if you find a venue with views that are a focal point.

Attire can also get pricey. If you will be wearing a wedding dress, consider using a consignment service such as ReTulled in Irvington. Places like this allow you to purchase a dress at a fraction of the cost. For tux rental, shop around for the best prices. If you have several events down the road, it may be a good investment to just purchase a tux to save.

Finding What You Need in a Home           

When saving for your first home, there are features you can cut from your list, but other things you should not. As you home search, keep in mind that aesthetics can be changed. This includes paint, flooring, light fixtures and appliances. If you plan on having a family in the next few years or have pets, make sure you look for homes that have the space requirements you need. If pricing is still an issue, consider changing locations or extend your timeline to allow the two of you to properly save for what you truly want.