If you’re newly engaged or your wedding day is fast approaching, this is a magical and romantic time for you and your partner. But there’s one part of it that most people don’t talk about: the money. Weddings are stressful… and they’re expensive. In fact, the average wedding in the U.S. in 2018 cost over $33,000 — that’s a lot of money.

Why are weddings so expensive? Well, there’s the cost of the venue, the dress, the photographer, the videographer, the catering, the music, the drinks — the list goes on. But we also believe that the cost of weddings adds up quickly when you don’t have a budget, which is how so many people end up paying for more than they bargained for. Even when you don’t intend to spend that kind of money, if you don’t have a clear wedding budget and closely track expenses, you may end up doing just that.

So, what do you do to lower the cost of your big day while also eliminating the money stress that goes with it? We think it starts with a simple conversation after you pop the question.

Starting the Wedding Budget Conversation

Money talks may not seem very romantic, especially after the warm and fuzzy feelings a proposal can trigger. But once the “romance dust” has settled and you start thinking about planning your wedding, that’s the perfect time to start talking about the money. This conversation may include just you and your partner if you’re paying for this event by yourselves, or it may include families who are pitching in. Knowing up front how much money your parents can commit to your big day or how much you’ve got in savings to use for down payments on a venue is critical.

Once you have those numbers, you can start to book things within your budget. Of course, if you have $0 to your name and you’re planning a wedding, you’ll need to figure out how you’re financing the event, whether that’s asking for a loan from a family member, using credit cards (although not advised), just heading to the courthouse, or waiting until after the wedding to start saving. Having a real talk about how much money you both bring to the table and how much you can reasonably spend on your wedding can help prevent stress over wedding costs now plus avoid money and debt fights after you say “I do.”

Just a few of the things you need to consider in your wedding budget are:

  • Your wedding venue
  • The dress and tux
  • Catering and bartenders
  • Music
  • Photography and videography
  • Invitations and postage
  • Honeymoon or travel expenses

Of course, this is by no means exhaustive. If you want to create a thorough budget for your wedding after this initial money talk, there are plenty of resources out there. We especially like this wedding budget calculator from NerdWallet.

What to Do If You’ve Already Started Planning

Already engaged and the wedding is getting closer? Don’t worry, you can still start this conversation and create a plan for what to do after the wedding is over. Going over what you’ve spent on the wedding thus far, what you’ve got to pay the day of (or after), and what you’re expecting to pay for the honeymoon will help you both get on the same page. You may also realize where you can cut back or change things before the wedding, but make sure to take contracts and down payments into consideration.

If you’re adding up your wedding expenses and you’re floored by how much you’ve spent, don’t dwell on it and don’t beat yourselves up. You’ve got the information you need to make educated decisions moving forward, so just enjoy the day that you’ve been planning! And if you and your soon-to-be spouse want more resources on newlywed money and co-mingling finances, check out our Newlywed Wedding Conversations series on the blog!