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Saying I do not to wedding debt

Marital bliss doesn't have to have to start with a huge price tag. Learn the risks of overspending and how to say "I don't" to wedding debt.
Your wedding is one of the biggest, most exciting events of your life. When you're in the middle of planning everything, it's easy to forget about setting a budget. According to The Knot Real Weddings Study, on average, couples spent $28,000 on their ceremony/reception for an all-in total wedding cost of $34,00.1 Before spending all this money, it's important to put these costs in perspective. Let's talk weddings on a budget. Otherwise, you'll risk blowing up your finances before the honeymoon is over.

Paying for your wedding

The first question you should ask yourself as you map out your wedding planning checklist is, “how are we going to pay for everything?” If you've saved up for the event or your family is going to help out, that's one thing. If you're going to need to borrow money or use your credit cards, you may want to think twice.

The problem with borrowing money for your wedding is that you'll need to pay everything back with interest. Not only will this add to the cost of your wedding, it also means you'll be heading into your marriage with a financial burden.

Debt can cripple a marriage

Debt can add serious stress to a marriage, and finances already tend to be a subject that causes lots of marital arguments. Couples can enter marriage with student loans, credit card debt, and car loans as well, an expensive wedding just puts you in a deeper hole. So why add to the stress by loading yourself up with debt on the big day? With a little effort, you can plan an amazing celebration while also saying “I do not” to wedding debt

Money for a head start in life

Even if you have the money to pay for your entire wedding, it can still make sense to stick to a smaller budget. Using the national average cost, let's say you scale back the event and only spend $12,000, leaving you and your spouse $16,000 for your future together. Think of what else you could do with this money. This could be enough for a down payment on your first home or could pay off some, if not all your other debts.

If you invest that money for the future, it could accomplish even more. Let's say you invest the $14,000 and manage to earn 7% a year. In 20 years, you could have about $54,000, just in time for when your kids go to college. In 40 years, as you're getting close to retirement, your wedding savings could be worth more than $200,000. How's that for perspective?

Tips for creating a wedding budget

Need help ensuring your wedding budget stays on target? Here are a few strategies for sticking to your budget.

  • Understand the cost drivers — Attire, beauty, entertainment, decorations, gifts, invitations, jewelry, photography, planning fees and rentals each demand their portion of the pie. 
  • Pick your one thing — Most wedding stories involve at least one minor catastrophe. While you can't guarantee something won't fall through the gaps, you can make sure of what's most important. Ask yourself what you care most about. Photography? The dress? Live music? Focus your energy and your budget on the most important thing.
  • Decide what doesn't matter — No one said you have to do it just because it's done. Don't like cake? Serve pie. Don't want to break the budget on invitations? Then send an e-vite. Identify the cost areas you care about least, and make strategic sacrifices.

A wedding is a celebration that touches your whole community. So involve your friends. When you bring a collaborative, DIY mindset to your wedding, you can stretch your budget and kick off your marriage without a lot of debilitating debt.

1. Knot 2021 Real Weddings Study


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