During a conversation with Jennifer Brisman, owner of Weddings New York, we discussed the rising trend of couples who go into debt for the sake of their wedding ceremonies. That’s when I learned that about 36 percent of couples pay for their weddings with personal loans or credit.
“What? This can’t be right!” I said.
Jennifer, an experienced wedding planner, confirmed the figure. With the average price tag of a wedding in the U.S. reaching $33,391 in 2017, my thought is this: If you can’t afford it, you don’t do it.
To make matters worse, unscrupulous businesses are only too happy to take engaged couples for everything they’re worth. For example, did you know that banks now offer wedding loans? They use the terms “wedding loans” and “wedding financing” to zip-line you to one of their personal loan products, something every bank offers. Sites like myweddingloans.com prey on this misinformation, going so far as to finance couples with bad credit. This is a matter of extensively good marketing on their behalf and taking advantage of the wedding industry the way social media does.
This is a nightmare to Jennifer and me. Imagine a young couple in their 20s or 30s with student loan debt, starting to save for their first home. Financing a wedding on top of this will impact their debt-to-income ratio — what a way to start your married life.
A smart couple starts by determining the maximum they can afford between themselves and their family with no loan product in play. From there, they need to figure out who will help pay for the wedding. Traditionally, the bride’s parents and family helped foot the bill. Now, it is yours, mine and ours: The couple pays, the bride’s family pays and even the groom’s parents pay. Whatever the case, don’t make assumptions about who will pitch in. I have seen a lot of family issues arise from miscommunication over who will help pay for weddings.
Once you know your spending limit, it’s time to build your budget. What do you want, what will it cost and where are the trade-offs? As the Rolling Stones sang, “You can’t always get what you want.”
3 Ways to Avoid Borrowing Money for Your Wedding
If you’re unable to afford the wedding you want and have already cut out all the unnecessary expenses, there are still ways to pay for your big day without a “wedding loan.”
Postpone Your Wedding Until You’ve Saved More Money
Even after scaling back your ambitions, you might find the price of the ceremony is higher than what you and your new family can afford. There’s nothing wrong with waiting and saving. Since so many weddings book one to two years out, this gives a couple more time to save. It might also help to search for venues with budgeting plans, so the money is not all due at once.
More on Saving: Budgeting Tips for Couples Who Want to Save Money
Savvy shoppers don’t advertise they’re buying supplies for a wedding, because there is a “wedding premium.” Let’s say a bouquet of sunflowers costs $15 from the farmers market. If you buy them from a florist and say the word “wedding,” the cost may well shoot to $175.
Have a Private Ceremony Now and a Big Reception Later
Lavish wedding ceremonies with over-the-top price tags can be exciting, memorable expressions of love. But sometimes, I want to shake these couples and say, “It is a party and that’s it!” I know, I sound like I am unromantic, but trust me — with years comes wisdom. Your marriage will be just as special if it is held at the justice of the peace with a party afterward.
Don’t forget: You are not only marrying someone, you are also marrying their money. So, every couple should be open and honest with each other, especially about what they can feasibly afford. And no one should start their married life in debt from a wedding.
Click through to read about the financial benefits of getting remarried.
More From Our Smart Money Squad
- The Money Lessons I Learned From Calling Off My Wedding
- Why We Chose a Small Wedding and Big Savings
- How Getting Married Saved Us Over $100 a Month on Health Insurance
- Watch: David Bach’s Best Tips for a Rich Life
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