Smart Ways to Save on Your Wedding

by Sara Seeger 2. October 2014

Wedding Proposal

Weddings are expensive, it's a fact. If you've come across our recent wedding infographic, you've seen how much a wedding in Maryland costs on average (after you have recovered from the price shock). Don’t worry grooms and brides-to-be! There are ways to cut costs on your dream day without sacrificing the most important aspects of your wedding.

The Date

Consider scheduling your wedding in an off-peak time, such as November or most of January through March. Where there is less competition for dates, there is more negotiating power. Day of the week is also important, as Saturdays tend to be the most popular and thus more expensive. Ask about rates for Friday or Sunday evening weddings.

The Venue

Contemplate choosing a nontraditional venue. Dedicated wedding reception halls or country clubs can be expensive. Renting a park, garden, or restaurant could save you some serious dough.

The Food

The more choices, the more expense. Cut out the traditional “guest choice” of an entrée and try a combination plate. By serving everyone the same meal you are able to cut down on the cost of food automatically. Fewer different ingredients, fewer costs. Another way to cut down on food is to host a daytime reception. It is always cheaper to serve brunch or lunch than dinner.

The Liquor

Most reception sites charge for every bottle opened. Offering a limited bar can save you huge bucks on your wedding day. A fun way to have a limited bar, without depriving guests of their favorite drinks, is to create “signature” drinks, which are a series of signature cocktails, that use one type of liquor, that guests can enjoy. Then, stock up on a few other beer and wine options for guests who don’t drink liquor.

The Photographer

Photographers usually offer packages based on the number of hours they work. Instead of booking a photographer for the entire day, take candid shots of the groups getting ready before the ceremony. You can also cut your cake earlier in the reception to allow that to be the last events the photographer shoots. Candid photographs from guests can supplement reception and dance photos. Another way to cut costs is to hire a photography student for your wedding. Be sure you check out his/her portfolio beforehand, but hiring an experienced student instead of a large photography company or professional could cut your photography bill in half.

The Invites, Programs and Favors

DIY! Take advantage of your aunt’s thrifty yard sale tactics and your bridesmaid’s Photoshop skills. Anything you can make yourself becomes a fun, shared effort and can save a lot. From designing invitations and programs, to creating your own centerpieces or favors (see our Pinterest board for ideas!), you can save a bundle of money doing things yourself.

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Expect. Employ. Empower.

by Lauren Banner-Russo 1. October 2014

October is a time for pumpkin spiced lattes, crisp fall weather, and colorful leaves on trees. Not only is it a time to recognize the changing of the seasons, it is also a time to recognize those with disabilities. October is designated by the U.S. Department of Labor as National Disability Employment Awareness Month. The focus of this campaign is to increase awareness about disability employment issues and celebrate accomplishments made by individuals with disabilities. The theme surrounding this years’ campaign is “Expect. Employ. Empower.”

1st Mariner Bank’s Recruitment division is really putting a focus on ensuring our job opportunities reach individuals with disabilities. The Recruitment team makes a continuous effort to build relationships with schools and organizations that work with individuals with disabilities. Our hope is that these efforts translate into more individuals with disabilities gaining employment.

Through outreach efforts, giving resume and interview tips to consumers of the Maryland Department of Rehabilitation, and participating in discussions throughout the community regarding hiring individuals with disabilities, 1st Mariner Bank’s Recruitment Team’s goal is to increase disability awareness and the benefits of hiring individuals with disabilities.

The Recruitment team will continue to work on this initiative and 1st Mariner Bank will continue to be a disability friendly employer. We encourage other companies and organizations to embrace National Disability Employment Awareness Month and make it a focus in the upcoming year!

Consolidating Your Debt – Why it’s Important and When to Consider It

by Roberta Pescow 9. September 2014

Credit Cards

Unfortunately, debt has become a way of life in the United States, with American consumers owing an overwhelming total of $11.68 trillion as of April 2014. That debt comes from multiple sources, including credit cards, mortgages and student loans. If you’re struggling to manage your multiple debt payments, you may want to consider debt consolidation.

Why debt consolidation is important

Managing debt from several sources can get complicated quickly. With so many bills due at different times of the month, even the most careful borrower may accidentally miss a payment. In addition, you may struggle to pay off multiple high-interest debts and high monthly payments.

Debt consolidation involves taking out a single loan to pay off your various debts so you only have one easy-to-manage monthly bill to pay. Ideally, you’d also lower your interest rate and monthly payments in the process. If you can reduce your interest rate and total monthly payment, you can pay off your debt more quickly and consistently, lowering the risk of additional interest charges, late fees and a damaged credit score.

When to consider debt consolidation

Debt consolidation is worth considering if it can help you eliminate debt faster or pay bills on time. Keep in mind that debt consolidation won’t make your debt disappear, so it’s important to have a regular income and stick to a budget that gives you a financial cushion to make your payments.

Consolidating your debt is also beneficial if you need to lower your monthly payments. But because that requires that you extend the term of your loan, you’ll also want to assess whether you can contribute more than the monthly minimum to ensure you don’t end up paying significantly more in interest over time.

If you have high interest rates on multiple debts, you may also benefit from loan consolidation. But before you apply, you should check your credit score. If you have a low credit score, you may not be able to lock in a low interest rate that will make your debt consolidation worthwhile.

You’ll need to have enough cash saved to offset any fees that come with your new loan agreement. Fees may include balance transfer fees, closing fees and origination fees.

It’s important to do research before settling on a debt consolidation strategy. An amortization tool is an easy way to compare scenarios with various loan terms and and interest rates. As you research your options, use the tool to figure out what works best for your situation.

How to consolidate your debt

There are many ways to consolidate your debt. The following are a few options worth considering:

Credit card balance transfers

Some credit cards allow balance transfers with 0% interest for an introductory period, usually anywhere from six to 18 months. You can expect to be charged a balance transfer fee of 1% to 5% of the amount transferred. Your card may or may not have a maximum amount allowed for balance transfers, but usually you can only transfer debt within your credit limit, and that total should include your transfer fee.

Home equity loans

Mortgage rates are holding at near historic lows, but as the economy improves, those rates will rise. That means you may not have much time to take advantage of this window of opportunity and let your home equity work for you. Be aware that home equity loans aren’t for everyone, though. You’ll need a steady income, because defaulting on your payments can lead to foreclosure on your home.

Roberta Pescow writes about personal finance, insurance and banking for NerdWallet. She previously was a home and garden writer for and has articles syndicated on over 200 websites nationwide.

If you found this article useful, be sure to check out these related articles:

Using Home Equity Loans and Lines of Credit to Your Advantage

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5 Ways to Reduce Your Credit Card Debt

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