Wedding Budget Dilemma: We Can't Agree on Anything!

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Last week, we learned how to speak to our fiancé about the wedding budget without bickering. Fortunately, Jason and I have been on the same page since day one: We both knew we wanted an evening reception in a ballroom surrounded by good food, music, family, and friends. In order to make that happen, we're willing to spend less on our cake, extras like accessories (bye bye, Louboutins), a band (we'll be having a DJ, instead), centerpieces, and so forth. 

But what should brides do if they vehemently disagree about how much to spend on a specific aspect of their wedding, even after talking it out (nicely)? One of our Facebook fans asks, "My groom and I disagree about how much to spend on the wedding cake and my gown. How can we reach a compromise without killing each other in the process?"

We consulted with Farnoosh Torabi, a personal finance expert, nationally acclaimed author (including Psych Yourself Rich: Get the Mindset and Discipline You Need to Build Your Financial Life and The Newlywed's Guide to Taking Control of Your Wedding) and fellow bride-to-be.

One tactic she recommends is to split the difference. “If one wants a $4,000 cake and the other thinks you shouldn’t spend more than $400…see what you can get with $2,000,” she advises. Quote your price to vendors and sit back while the offers come through to see what you’re working with.

Try to meet in the middle; for example, let’s say you were really looking forward to serving cake as the grand finale, but your groom wants cupcakes instead, after seeing how much a tiered confection costs. Take a cue from our expert bride-to-be: “We're getting one cake layer and decorating the rest of the cake's display with tiers of cupcakes. We’ll be offering Penn State ice cream as part of our dessert course, as well (since we’re both graduates).”

When it comes to your gown, Farnoosh believes that this is a very personal decision, so it shouldn’t be a joint expense between the bride and groom. That being said, you shouldn’t have to drain all of your accounts to pay for your dream dress. “Your savings is meant to be there for your future (which will soon include a husband and later, hopefully, your family). Don’t empty your bank account or take out a credit card for this expense (unless you plan to pay if off in full),” said Farnoosh.

Whatever you do, don’t fall into one of the biggest bridal traps of all time: “If you’re on a small budget, avoid even going to the fancy stores where dresses start at $5,000 (ahem, Saks). You’ll only be tempted.”

Tell us: Do you and your fiance agree or disagree on how much to spend for the venue, dress, catering, etc.?


—Stefania Sainato