DULUTH, Ga. (12/10/14)--It will always cost more than you think. That's what experts say about the cost of a wedding, and that's why one credit union chief financial officer says when budgeting for the big day, it's OK to go overboard.
The facts, according to the popular wedding website TheKnot.com: The average wedding in 2013 cost $29,858, excluding the honeymoon. The average number of wedding guests was 138, and the average number of bridal party members was eight to 10.
The facts, according to Georgia Credit Union Affiliates in its Mid-Year 2014 Consumer Survey: Only 7% of couples have so far set money aside for their weddings, while 71.4% have no money saved at all.
About 13% of those who have saved money for the wedding have saved for less than six months, while 9% said they have saved for more than a year.
Further, most respondents said they paid for their weddings using savings, and about 7% said they relied on contributions from friends and family.
Melany Ward, vice president/chief financial officer of Ethicon CU, Cornelia, Ga., with $11.7 million in assets, said it's not only important to start budgeting in the first place, but to overestimate costs as much as possible.
"Even the best financial wedding plan will cost more than you anticipate," Ward said. "Expect the total to be at least 10% to 15% more ... Also, be cautious when exceeding the allocated amount on any item. One hundred dollars here and there can result in thousands of dollars before the big day."
The reception is often the largest expense, so prioritizing the guest list and food choices early is important, said Ward, who also advocates for consumers to look to a credit union for financial support for the big day.
"As credit unions continue 'helping people afford life,' we strive to offer various options to prepare for that special day, whether it's for a loved one, or yourself," Ward said. "A separate savings account can begin to accumulate and be set aside for a specific purpose for the future. Or, if you are in the midst of already planning a major event such as a wedding, several lending options are available at most credit unions, such as personal, special-purpose, auto or second-mortgage loans."