Falling in love is an exhilarating feeling. Life seems so much better and richer than it was before. Then, the moment comes when the question, “Will you marry me?”, is asked and a new high is reached. The following period between the engagement and the “I do’s” is a whirlwind of excitement and planning. Those who are soon-to-be-wed, as well as the families surrounding them, are all usually involved in the big celebration of love.
In this flurry of emotion and excitement comes the realization that this engagement means a big expense is on the horizon. Weddings have many costs that add up quickly. In fact, the average cost of a wedding in 2016 was $35,329, according to The Knot 2016 Real Weddings Study. Didn’t know love was so expensive? It certainly can be.
So, with this huge cost looming, how can you fund your dream wedding?
The best way to pay for a wedding is to save money for it. By doing so, you can enjoy your day without the worry of paying for it later. To plan out your savings strategy, you’ll need to calculate your costs.
According to the the Knot, this will include a laundry list of items including the venue, photographer, wedding event planner, reception band, reception DJ, videographer, wedding dress, groom’s attire, wedding cake, ceremony site, ceremony musicians, invitations, transportation, favors, rehearsal dinner, officiant, catering and wedding day hairstyling and makeup. Phew! That’s a lot.
Once you calculate what your dream wedding is going to cost, identify how much you can save each month between you and your soon-to-be spouse. For example, if your wedding is going to cost $20,000 and you’re able to save $1,000 per month, then you’ll be able to hold your wedding in 20 months from the time you began saving. Open up a new account just for the purpose of the wedding and celebrate milestones as you make progress towards your goal.
This route is the most responsible, as you can do the hard work for the wedding beforehand, enjoy the day and start your life together debt-free. Furthermore, when you’re working hard and making sacrifices to save for the wedding, you’re more likely to make more budget-conscious decisions in the planning phase.
2. Pick up some extra work on the side
If you work out your savings plan and find that it’s going to take you too long, you can speed up the process by picking up some extra work on the side. Whether it’s babysitting, waiting tables, freelancing online or picking up odd jobs, you can earn extra cash to increase the amount you’re able to save each month.
Let friends and family know you’re looking for opportunities to earn extra money, and they can put the word out. If you’d like to explore ways to make money from your home, check out freelancing sites like Upwork and Freelancer.
3. Ask your parents for a little help
When saving for your wedding, you can also ask your parents if they will chip in towards your big day. While at one time traditional wedding etiquette saw the bride’s father footing most of the bill, times have changed. According to The Wedding Finance Survey performed by The Knot and PayPal, only 16% of couples borrowed money from a family member or friend to help fund their wedding costs.
So, rather than expecting your family to fully fund your dream wedding, plan out the costs and ask them if there are any parts that they may be willing to help pay for. Your spouse can do the same and, together, this may chip away at the large amount you’re trying to save.
4. Use credit cards
Credit cards can be used to fund weddings, but most financial advisors will caution against it. However, in the survey mentioned above by The Knot and PayPal, 57% of couples said they financed their wedding with money from a credit card or financial institution, and 21% of couples said they paid for their wedding with credit and spent more than they could afford.
Why might credit cards be a bad idea?
The recommended way to use credit is to invest in something that’s likely to pay you back in the future, such as getting an education, business or home. Additionally, it’s not a bad idea to invest in something that you get long-term use out of, like a refrigerator or car. The reason for this is because, in these cases, the loan offers long-term returns on your investment that make it worthwhile.
If you spend money on something that doesn’t pay you back or offer a long-term return, as is the case with a wedding, you have the same income, nothing to reap from it on an ongoing basis and a large bill to pay for years to come. You may have other needs that come up in the future, but you will be tied to paying off this past debt.
So, try to avoid racking up large bills on your credit card (or cards) for wedding expenses. If it is the route you and your fiance want to take, be sure to talk about how long it’s going to take to pay it off so that you both understand what you’re getting into. Then, be sure to shop for the credit card with the lowest interest rate and perhaps even an introductory period with no interest to minimize your borrowing costs.
5. Take out a personal loan
Because there is no such thing as a wedding loan, personal loans are taken out to fund weddings. There are now many online lenders that make it easier than ever to borrow money without ever leaving your couch.
Is it the best idea for funding a wedding? Similar to using a credit card, it isn’t the best idea.
When using a personal loan to fund your wedding, you face the same disadvantages as with credit cards. It makes it easy to overspend, and you’re committing to a large amount of debt that will be gone after your one-day celebration. Personal loans can often be taken out in higher amounts than credit cards, which can commit you to a heavy debt burden.
So, while this is one option to fund your dream wedding, it’s not an ideal one. However, if you decide to do so, ensure that you and your spouse both understand what will be required to pay it off. You will also want a lender who offers a low-interest rate, a loan length that works for your budget and minimal fees.
If you’d like to see what rates and terms are available with personal loans, you can read through our top recommended personal loan lenders for 2017.
Fund your dream wedding
Your wedding should be a special day that is remembered fondly for the rest of your life. It’s the day that you and your loved one commit to spending life together, which alone makes it special. All of the other things are just icing on the cake.
To help you and your new husband or wife start off on the right foot, approach the funding of your wedding cautiously. Do what you can to make budget-friendly choices, without fully compromising on what you want. Saving ahead of time is the best route to go, so that you can enjoy your wedding without any strings attached.
However, other options are available, such as credit cards and personal loans. If you do decide to use credit, be sure to shop around so that you can get the best deal, making it as affordable as possible.
Whichever route you choose to take, make sure that you’re fully informed and aware of the consequences. Then, once the reality of funding is handled, you can enjoy the celebration of your union and set forth on your new life together.
Jessica Walrack is a personal finance writer at SuperMoney, The Simple Dollar, Interest.com, Commonbond, Bankrate, NextAdvisor, Guardian, Personalloans.org and many others. She specializes in taking personal finance topics like loans, credit cards, and budgeting, and making them accessible and fun.