A child’s wedding — it’s an event many parents dream about and look forward to with great anticipation. The dress, the music, the flowers, the vows, being surrounded by family and friends to celebrate the big day.

I’m enjoying that situation right now. My daughter and her fiancé are planning an August wedding in Wichita. She got engaged last year on Valentine’s Day, so we’ve had lots of time to dream those big wedding dreams and begin to make important wedding decisions. For example, it was exciting to be with her when she said “yes to the dress” a few weeks ago.

Planning a wedding is a thrill. It also can be stressful with all the expenses and decisions to be made. If someone in your family got a ring for Valentine's Day, now is a great time to gather as much information as possible to make the wedding — and the years of marriage to follow — a success.

K-State Research and Extension can help. Four new Extension publications, released last fall, can help engaged couples and their families consider the financial aspects of planning a wedding. The Extension fact sheet “With This Ring ... We Plan!” discusses tips for developing a wedding budget, managing wedding costs and how couples can start their marriage on a solid financial footing.

The “Planning Your Wedding” worksheet provides a checklist for planning wedding expenses along with a list of last-minute details to consider.

In addition to these consumer publications, the set also includes a leader’s guide for sharing wedding planning information with others, along with a “Wedding Spending Game” simulation activity for groups.

Why all this emphasis on wedding planning? Anyone who recently has planned a wedding knows weddings are expensive. According to the Knot's annual survey of couples, the average cost of a wedding in 2016 was $35,329. That marks an all-time high for the survey, which last year polled 13,000 couples married in the U.S. In addition, approximately 45 percent of couples reported they exceeded their wedding budget.

Going into debt for an expensive wedding might not be the best way to start married life. The Extension publications include suggestions for setting a target spending limit along with a list of typical wedding expenses and a rough estimate of the percentage of the wedding budget couples generally spend on each category. A couple’s priorities might be slightly different from the average, so it is important to identify the elements of a wedding that are most important to each individual and work to accomplish (and pay for) those elements first.

Planning a wedding — and life together as a married couple — involves many choices and trade-offs. And while you want your wedding day to be special, it is just one day in the rest of your married life. Planning ahead can help you stay within your financial means and put you on the path to happily ever after.

For more information, contact the Hays office at (785) 628-9430 or the Great Bend office at (620) 793-1910) in the Cottonwood Extension District. You also can find the wedding planning publications online at the K-State Research and Extension Bookstore at www.bookstore.ksre.ksu.edu. Search for publications MF3378, MF3379, MF3380 and MF3381. 

Linda K. Beech is a Cottonwood District Extension agent for family and consumer sciences.