Falling in love is easy. Getting engaged is unforgettable. Getting married is expensive!
No matter where you decide to say “I do,” weddings can cost couples a small fortune. While weddings are expensive across the globe, they are especially pricey in the United States. The average wedding costs over $30,000 in the U.S., with couples in New York City averaging $76,944 for their big day.
Fortunately, the American obsession with expensive weddings doesn’t translate to every continent. According to MarketWatch, the average European couple getting married spends about 5,000 euros (or $5,495 USD).
Wherever you and your fiancée decide to get married, there are many ways to cut costs and still have the wedding of your dreams. You can make it a do-it-yourself (DIY) wedding, repeat the “less is more” mantra, or even replace your wedding cake with cupcakes.
It’s your wedding, and you know best how to plan it. While you’ll handle the details, we’re here to help you answer the three biggest questions before planning your wedding: the Where, Who, and When.
Here are The 3 Best Budgeting Tips for Planning a Wedding Abroad:
1) The Where: Deciding on a Location
As an expat, deciding where to host your wedding may be the most important factor in saving money.
It’s a big decision: should you go back to your home country so you can celebrate with your family and friends? Or, if you met your significant other abroad, should you consider holding the wedding in your spouse’s country?
Wherever you decide to celebrate, make sure you’ve reviewed the country’s local laws ahead of time. Countries like France and Spain require residence permits and proof that you’ve lived in the country for a certain period of time.
Some laws are seemingly frivolous, like the 300 euro cost for a permit to play music at a wedding in Italy. Other laws are more serious. In countries like Mexico, you’ll be required to take certain blood tests (and in some Mexican states, chest X-Rays) to detect syphilis and HIV. These tests, along with marriage license fees and national marriage permits, can run up costs in a hurry.
Once you have settled on the right country, narrow down the city and venue where you’d like to host. While standard places for wedding receptions include golf clubs and upscale restaurants, you can get creative by renting unexpected places on the cheap.
If you decide to hold your wedding in the United States, check out Peerspace to get great deals on cool places.
Of course, when you think about holding your wedding, one question immediately comes to mind: who should you invite?
2) The Who: Deciding on Invitations
We recommend creating two wedding guest lists: the first “dream” list with all of the people you could invite if space and money weren’t an issue. Then, create a second list with the maximum number of guests allowed at your chosen venue.
Send out your invitations to that reduced number as soon as possible (even if it’s months or over a year ahead of time). Ask for an earlier-than-usual RSVP, so when certain guests are unable to make it, you can replace them with others from your first list.
Bear in mind that international weddings are not just a cost to you, but also to your guests. Traveling abroad is very expensive, so be sure to give your guests time to book affordable flights and accommodations. This will also give them the ability to turn your wedding celebration into a more robust vacation.
Speaking of vacation, what time of year should you consider holding your wedding?
3) The When: Deciding the Season
Summer is famously regarded as “wedding season,” but now that COVID-19 has rearranged our habits, weddings may soon have more flexibility.
Why should you be confined to one season to host your wedding celebration? Summer and holiday-centered weddings are certainly fun, but if you are hoping to host your wedding in a popular season, everything will be exponentially more expensive.
Planning your wedding for an off-season celebration could help you save thousands of dollars. Free yourself from the confines of summer and Christmas and look to off-peak months to plan the big day.
Better yet, consider replacing your Saturday night wedding with a weekday celebration. That may sound a little crazy, but midweek weddings are actually becoming more popular every year. According to The Atlantic, one in five American weddings now take place in the middle of the week!
Why are they so popular?
A midweek wedding not only increases the likelihood of booking your favorite venue, but it allows you to do so at significantly lower prices. You’ll save big on hotel room rates, have a lower food and beverage minimum for caterers, and more.
Plus, for family and friends flying in from abroad, a Wednesday or Thursday wedding will provide perfect entree for them to enjoy their weekend and create a mini-vacation.
If you’re reading this article, then this must be an exciting time in your life. Congratulations!
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