Marrying and Money: How to Save for a Wedding

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Jan 2021

While the cost of nuptials has held steady over the past few years, too many couples are planning to borrow to cover the cost. Here's how to avoid the debt trap.

A wedding ceremony can range from picking out some nice suits and heading over to city hall to reserving a 200-guest blowout, with varying costs. But according to a survey by wedding website The Knot, the average cost of a wedding in the U.S. was $33,900 in 2019.(1)

All too often, young couples are planning to borrow in order to pay for their weddings. A Student Loan Hero survey found that 74% of respondents said they planned to take on debt to cover the costs.(2)

Having that perfect day is important, but carefully consider the ramifications if it creates financial burdens you'll have to carry while you're adjusting to married life. Not to mention how that much debt could impact your retirement savings or any plans to start a family.

The two ways to get to your goal sooner are to reduce costs and save more. Here are a few tips:

  • Think about the balance between spending on the ceremony and spending on your honeymoon - consider splurging on one and not the other.
  • Consider location, location, location: According to Investopedia.com, the average wedding in Mississippi costs around $13,000, while tying the knot in New York can easily top $88,000. A destination wedding - which wraps wedding and honeymoon together - is somewhere in the middle at about $27,000. (3)
  • The biggest drivers of wedding costs are the size of the guest list, the venue (whether it's at your backyard or the Four Seasons) and the style (tiaras or blue jeans). You might be able to plan an elegant wedding for 20 guests or a barbecue for 200 for around the same price. Decide on your wedding style and the size of the guest list, then stick to them.
  • If you must get married in a big city, think about hiring a caterer from a less expensive suburb who'd be willing to drive in. Also, venues tend to charge less on Fridays and Sundays.
  • If parents or others are helping with the expenses, find out how much they intend to contribute?
  • Deduct contributions from your budget to see what you need to save, then divide that by the number of months between now and the big day. That's how much you need to save each month to make this happen without borrowing. If that number is overwhelming, think about pushing back the date to give you more time to save.
  • Automate your savings by setting up a separate savings account and have part of your paychecks deposited there.
  • Get a side hustle. Maybe sell some stuff on LetGo or Craigslist. Consider postponing other big purchases (car, house) until after the wedding.
  • Don't drink so much Starbucks! Seriously, cut down on out-of-home food and beverage and put that money in the savings account. It'll add up faster than you think.

Finally, while talking with your financial advisor isn't on many pre-wedding checklists, it should be. Your advisor can help you evaluate your current situation as well as your vision for the future.

1. https://www.theknot.com/content/average-wedding-cost

2. https://www.cnbc.com/2018/03/13/wedding-debt-can-hurt-a-couples-financial-future.html

3. https://www.investopedia.com/financial-edge/0212/how-to-save-for-a-wedding.aspx

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