Big Day Budgeting: How Couples Are Tackling Wedding Costs

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Steve Matteo/AP
By Jennifer Liu

You don't need to tune in to "Bridezillas" to appreciate that planning a wedding can take a toll on your emotions -- and your wallet.

Just consider that the average 2014 wedding topped $31,000, not including the honeymoon.

And sure enough, money is top of mind for many couples preparing to say "I do." A new joint survey from The Knot and PayPal finds one-third of couples establish a financial plan right after getting engaged.

But that head start doesn't guarantee smooth sailing -- 68 percent of brides admit they find themselves thinking about the wedding budget and finances all the time. Maybe that's because, despite being proactive in setting an initial budget, only 29 percent of couples manage the wedding finances together.

What happens as a result? Missteps, like going over budget (the case with a whopping 76 percent of couples) and even going into debt (which 57 percent of couples admitted to doing).

How to Get on Track

Wedding budgeting could set a precedent for how you'll manage future finances with your partner, so it's important to get it right from the start.

Amanda Miller, PayPal's "Wedding Guru" and the Head of Global Communications at PayPal Credit, offers a few suggestions on how couples can work with each other -- and their budget -- to have a memorable wedding.

Learn to Compromise: When you're disagreeing on expenses, look at areas of possible compromise -- say, forgoing a live band for a DJ, or going digital with your invites instead of printing pricey invitations. Don't make a unilateral decision though -- discuss these compromises together.

Be Clear on Priorities: "Try to be realistic about needs versus wants and be sure to write them down so that you can reference your priorities along the way," Miller advises. This will keep you from overindulging on things you don't care about.

Roll Up Your Shirt Sleeves: Think about what you can do together as a couple to help save money. About three in four couples are planning to negotiate their way down on vendor costs, and 82 percent plan to DIY some aspect of their wedding to keep expenses in check.

If you're looking for some big-day budget inspiration, read how one couple financed their nuptials on less than $1,000.
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