How to Pay for a Wedding Without Going into Debt–Financial Advisors Weigh In

We asked the experts.

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How to Save When Wedding Planning

When planning a wedding, you quickly learn how fast the costs add up. The price tag for your must-have list and your Pinterest-worthy decorations jumps up toward a number way higher than you ever imagined. That’s why it can be tempting to pay for it all, no matter the cost and no matter how. Get this: Roughly 1 in 4 couples will go into debt while planning their wedding.

But that doesn’t have to be the case. If you consider the tips below, you can plan the wedding of your dreams without reaching outside of your finances.

Ask for Discounts

Never shy away from asking if there are any discounts available and shop around for online vendors who might offer coupon codes or seasonal discounts.

Charles Thomas III, a financial advisor, recommends speaking to potential vendors and asking if they offer a discount if you get more than one service from them. For example, a photographer may provide a photobooth and videographer for less with a package. He even recommends that you ask the venue if they offer catering and what kind of discounts they might offer if you buy from them instead of using an outside vendor.

Establish a Budget Early On

After getting engaged, it might be tempting to get straight to planning. But, before you pick the venue and decide on the color scheme, take a step back and settle in with one of the biggest and most crucial decisions–your budget. According to Thomas, most folks do the opposite.

“Most select what they want and then try to figure out how to pay for it,” he said. “Instead, make a budget and then start to decide what will fit into the budget.”

Don’t Be Scared to Negotiate

Paying for a wedding is a big purchase. Thomas believes that you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for a better deal when you speak to a vendor. Don’t sign any contracts without negotiating. If you’re not good at that, involve someone who is and see if they can help.

Rent Over Buy

One major money saver that’s often passed over is the option couples have to rent instead of buy. Todd Bryant, a Certified Financial Planner, advises couples to consider renting items like suits instead of buying. You can even rent décor, flowers (by doing a flower share program with another couple getting married the next day) and more options can save cash.

Save Early

As soon as you get engaged, Anna Keisler, a financial planning associate, advises adjusting your current personal budget so you can start saving.

“Those costs add up quickly, from save-the-dates to the deposits for the venue and other expenses,” Keisler said. “Starting early gives you a chance to build up cash for those expenses. This is a great time to evaluate your budget in general. Maybe you don't need to eat out as often, or [you] could cut out some of your subscription services for a while to free up cash for saving.”

Keep an Eye on Your Credit Card

When you’re starting to book vendors and pay for all the little items, Keisler advises that you keep a close eye on your credit card.

“Track your credit card use while you're planning,” she said. “It can be easy to spend more than you realized and be unable to pay the bill when it arrives. If you can't afford to pay for it in cash or to pay off your credit card bill at the end of the month, don't buy it. Plain and simple. Ultimately, your wedding is just one day and isn't worth starting your newly married life off in debt.”

Take on a Temporary Job

Rather than going into debt and putting purchases on credit cards, consider taking on a temporary extra job to help front the bills with cash. Donna Gestl, a Certified Financial Planner, recommends thinking about turning a skill into a side hustle to make money that you can put toward the wedding.

Consider Your Timeline

If you want to make sure your financial decisions are strong, look at how much time you have before the wedding and consider pushing back the date. If you don’t currently have the wedding funds, try saving over the next 12, 18 or 24 months, Gestl suggests. See how much you and your fiancé can put away as you reach toward your goal.

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