Post # 1
My fiancee and I are both in our late 20s and are graduate students. Thus, we have NO income – in fact, we are paying high tuition rates and living off of student loans, so we are technically in the red. However, we are both students in fields that will hopefully one day place us in well-paying job positions (I am in medical school and he is in law school). We do not want to wait to get married, since we want to be able to move forward and have children within the next few years – which can be a challenge when dedicating so much time to schooling! Thus, we are planning to marry, even though we have no money saved for a wedding. We are very fortunate that both of our parents have donated generous sums of money towards the event, but there is still a good chance we will go a little over this amount once we take into account all the details, honeymoon, etc. We also don’t want to take too much from our parents, since they can be overly generous at times and they are getting close to retirement age and need to start saving for themselves!
While I tend to be a little more concerned about finances, my fiancee assures me that I should have whatever I want for the wedding (he says this knowing I am not an overly frivolous person) because we will be able to pay it off once we’re working, which will be within 1 year of marrying.
I just find it hard to create a budget for our wedding when we have no real income – it all feels arbitrary and like make believe money to me. If we had saved a certain amount or had a yearly income I was relying on, I think I would find it easier to budget. However, since we currently have no income (but will likely have a good cummulative income within the next few years) I feel like our “budget” is so wishy-washy and really non-existant. I try to allow myself the things I want without going over-board, but it is hard without any real constraints.
Is anyone else in the same situation? Any advice for a bride who is trying to create her dream wedding, while also not incurring more debt than necessary? How do you make a budget when you don’t have real numbers to work with???
Post # 3
Please be very conservative with your budget. A doctor’s pay is NOT high in the first 6-8 years of working (residency and fellowship). Your pay will be literally peanuts ($45k before tax). And if you are lucky and save a lot, you will only save 600 or so per month after bills, rent and what not. Then, there is fees for annual med license, moving fees, residency interviews, USMLE exam fees and books… I am a PL-2 resident’s wife. Not here to scare you. But, please have a small budget that you are comfortable and not hope that your future pay is enough to cover wedding expenses.
Post # 4
Thanks for the advice and I agree with you. I realize a doctor’s pay is not what many assume it to be – to be honest, we are more counting on my fiancee’s income, which will be higher than the average starting lawyer, since he will be taking over his mother’s successful law firm the year after our wedding. My income with be supplementary. However, I agree with you, that we don’t want to have too extravagant of a wedding. I guess my problem is defining what a “small budget” vs. “extravagant budget” is, when I have no real numbers to work with …
Post # 5
That’s a tough one – I can imagine it would be difficult to create a budget when the boundaries are so fuzzy. If your parents are being generous, maybe use the amount they have given as the budget? If that isn’t enough, then try to be conservative with the amount you spend beyond this amount and only choose things that are really necesary/important to you?
Post # 6
Do you know how many people you want to invite? How many people do your parents want to invite? Since they’re paying for a good chunk of it, do they expect a certain number of seats?
What type of wedding do you want to have?? Gold course? Country Club? Hotel? Barn? These things will dictate how high or low your starting budget will be.
Or.. you could go the other way. Figure how much your parents are going to contribute and that is your budget.
Post # 7
IF your parents are paying for the majority of the wedding and IF you are certain you will be making good money within a year of your wedding and IF you are not generally a “frivalous” person, then I agree with your fiancee – don’t sweat the small stuff and get what you want (within reason). Lots of people go into a little bit of debt over their wedding (even without the assurance of good money within a few years), so as long as it isn’t excessive, then it is not worth the stress. Also, does your family often give money as wedding gifts? If so, this might help offset the costs you incur (although I don’t suggest this is something good to rely on, since you never know what people will give – just something to keep in the back of your mind!)
Congratulations on your schooling and being almost done!
Post # 8
My 2 cents, I’m a doctor, I graduated med school 8 years ago with roughly $80k debt (much lower than the average) , and honestly did not really start to put a dent into my loans until just the past 1-2 years. I spent 4 years in residency and then 2 years in fellowship. I deferred repayment of my govt loans during residency, but still had to pay the minimum on my private loans. I really did not accrue much savings at all during residency. Maybe part of the issue is that I live in a high cost area. Even after 2 years working a “real” job, I still owe almost $30k and am paying rent to live in a crappy 2 bedroom apartment. I pay roughly $1400/month on my loans, and at this rate may be done in about 2 years.
For my wedding, we’re paying it all in cash (in reality credit card so we can collect points, etc, but will pay off monthly balances in full), and I cannot imagine going into debt for the wedding, especially when I look at how much I’ve already paid in interest alone (between 3-5%) for my educational debt (one of my loans was 30K and my interest paid totals 11K, makes me sick!)
As you stated, you are already in the red. If you go further into debt for your wedding, does this mean credit card balance/debt – what kind of interest rate? If you want children soon, do you plan to work full or part time (this will affect your income), and who pays for childcare – daycare or a nanny? Where do you think you will match for residency – is it a high cost area? Do you need to save $ for a downpayment for a home purchase and emergency savings (Suze Orman recommends 8 months)? FWIW one of my girlfriends during residency got married very quietly, just her family and a few closest friends in her parents backyard, and at 1 year threw a really fun party – live band, catered dinner. I agree with other posters, take the amount that both parents are gifting you and use that, along with what you can save until the wedding date, as your total budget.
I don’t know your particular circumstances, but again, just to share my experience as a doctor in debt, and a woman getting married and who wants to have children soon.
Post # 9
I’m in this situation… I’m in graduate school until May, and Fiance is currently working full-time for a temp agency at a whopping $12/hr. We want to get married in April 2013. Right now the budget of roughly $8,000 is imaginary because we’re not in a position where we have much, but we’re hoping he’ll be hired for real with a raise and benefits, and I’m reasonably certain I’ll be able to find a teaching job for next year. So I’ll have about 8 months of good income to save up before the wedding. I have some money in savings and we’re going to try to buy/pay for things as they come. We’re wanting to pay for pretty much everything ourselves, though his dad wants to host the rehearsal dinner (as is traditional) and my dad wants to help us out a little.
Post # 10
Please DO NOT spend money you don’t have because you are planning on making the money up in the future. MANY people did that in the past few years and then when the economy crashed and their future “planned” income didn’t happen, they ended up in a horrible financial situation. Please stick within the budget that your parents are providing. You can take your honeymoon at a later date when you actually have a salary and money in the bank to pay for it. You can upgrade your rings on your 5 year anniversary. You can cut out many unnecessary expenditures without people noticing they are gone (no favors, sheet cake instead of a full decorated cake, DJ/iPod instead of a band).
It is a cultural epidemic that people started living above their means because they were certain that they would have the money to cover their debt in the future (raises, home equity loans, better job opportunities). Hopefully this recession has shown people that you need to live within your means now and only increase your expenditures when you physically have the money in the bank.
Sorry to be so harsh….
Post # 11
I’m a student, OH is workig but not on a huge salary. My parents are paying for most of the wedding; we’re paying for a few small things here and there, and will pay in cash, within our means. My OH is saving for a deposit on a property, so this is taking priority. I’m hoping to get funding for my PhD in which case I won’t be in any more debt and will be able to help with a deposit, but we can’t plan on this basis as I might not get funding. I think to plan assuming that you will be able to earn x amount in x years time is pretty crazy: there are no guarantees in life. What if you struggle to get a job? What if you’re earning less than you’d hoped? You just never know.
I also think if you want children, then you’ll need to save every penny/cent for this; after paying money off your loans each month, paying bills etc, how much can you realistically expect to save? Is it worth putting an additional strain on your finances, and possibly having to delay TTC as a result, to pay off wedding debts?
I personally would use what you are being given as your budget, and stick to it. Weddings don’t have to be big an expensive.
Post # 12
I’m sooo interested in hearing all the responses! Fiance and I are in a very very similar situation: next year he’ll be starting his residency and I’lllbe starting law school. It’s so difficult living on an ‘imaginary budget’, for both the wedding and life in general. It’s nice to know that other people are going through something similar.
I guess I have the same mentality as the OP; I try and spend ‘reasonably’, without splurging in unnecessary items. I’m really looking forward to when we have some actual cash flow though. Is so much easier to budget when there are ‘real numbers’ to work with…
Post # 13
I had an imaginary budget for my daughter’s wedding. I didn’t want to have to take out a loan, because I have student loans myself. I figured out about how many people we would probably invite (and then asked them who they wanted there). I looked for their top priority items
1. Style of Venue
2. Three layers of satin overlays
3. All clear glass matching dishes and real flatware
4. (I knew they are Foodies).
5. Nothing big got cut. In fact, this included 2 wedding dresses, Maid/Matron of Honor & all Bridesmaid or Best Man dresses.
I started early. I found exactly what they wanted and pulled it off for $5K for # 65.
Post # 14
i was essentially in your situation. Darling Husband and I were both grad students and just turned 30. i was so happy to be engaged, it did not even cross my mind to wait a few years, plus like you said, we didn’t want to (ok, I didn’t want to! Darling Husband would have done whatever i wanted). But ya, i didn’t have a budget set in stone because i was living paycheck to paycheck. I didn’t have student loans the year i planned my wedding as i was working at a paid internship and had a research scholarship – but that money combined was still living paycheck to paycheck (especially once you factor in things like moving back and forth across the country for internship and flying home for the holidays!). Basically i tried not to go too crazy and i set an “imaginary budget”. i had an amount i didn’t want to go over because i thought it was reasonable. well, i got a bit carried away and went over by 50%! (we spent $15K instead of $10K). But luckily I did not factor in gifts and some people were quite generous, so it really helped to pay things down. I also knew i had money coming later from my final scholarship installment and Darling Husband was starting a post doc (better paying than what i was making at the time), so i knew we would be ok. sure it was a bit risky, but i basically made ends meet for the wedding like i have been doing with everything the past ten years and we have no regrets about how we spent our money. Also, my husband was the opposite of your yours – rather than tell me “get what you want”, he was there to reign me in and make sure i didn’t go too crazy. But ya, i do have some credit card debt i need to pay down now. i am not overwhelmed by it and i am actually learning to be smarter with my money since the wedding – since it was admittedly the most “overboard” i ever went!
Post # 15
I don’t know how much your parents are contributing but is it possible to work within their combined budget? There are lots of clever brides on here with brilliant crafting suggestions to help save the pennies. You could always wait to go on honeymoon in the future and perhaps spend a weekend somewhere nice (and cheap!) in the first instance. But it would be a shame to start your married life in more debt than necessary. Best of luck!
Post # 16
Work out a wedding that is within your parents’ budgets. DO NOT go into debt over something like this- it’s a smart investment for school loans, but you will regret being in the habit of going into debt for unnecessary things. It sounds like you can have a real nice wedding without going into debt.
My advice is to try to get a good deal on something or don’t get it at all and to prioritize. Pick what you want (photobooth, special desserts, etc.) figure out what you and your family can save money on (DIY decorations, make your own cake, get a used dress). This is how you have a great wedding while staying within your means.
Try listening to Dave Ramsey’s podcasts- going into debt is not a good thing. Don’t depend on getting a job in this economy or getting a job and being able to make wedding payments in addition to rent and tuition payments.