Wedding-related debt is an epidemic that is sweeping America. From pressures of our consumerist society to the steep costs of venues, vendors, and honeymoons, millions of American couples each year find themselves steeped in debt from their special days. In fact, a recent Business Insider report revealed that in the U.S., 28 percent of couples reported going into debt when paying for their weddings. Another source explains that a couple can purchase a luxury car for less than the cost of the average wedding, which runs a bill in excess of $33,000.
Even more astoundingly, a 2018 Student Loan Hero survey reported that nearly three-fourths of engaged couples planned to go into debt for their weddings, 61 percent of which intended to use credit cards to finance the festivities.
This all begs the question: What, exactly, are couples spending all this money on?
According to theknot.com, couples run the biggest price tags on the following:
- The reception venue – $15,000
- The ceremony venue – $2,000
- The photographer – between $2,000 and $3,000
- A wedding planner – $2,000
- The reception music (DJ or band) – between $1,200 and $4,000
- The ceremony music – $800
- Flowers and decor – $2,400
- Videography – $2,000
- The dress – $1,600
- Groom attire – $300
- The wedding cake – $500
- Catering – $70 per person
Not to mention, couples are forking over funds for costly trends, like photo booths, sparklers, food trucks, bonfires, and pricey favors for guests.
Saying “I Do” to Debt-Free Living
The reality is that the sparklers will burn out and the confetti will be swept up, the cake will be eaten and the wine consumed, but the couples will be left to shoulder their debt burdens alone. So what, exactly, can couples do to celebrate the big day without breaking the bank?
(Yes, it is possible. Here’s how.)
Plan against the Peak
Wedding vendors know that the Springtime is peak wedding season, and their fees prove it. Schedule the big day in an offseason to score a lower price tag.
Cut the List
You want to celebrate your special day with those are most special to you – not your cousin’s nephew’s sister’s boyfriend’s son. Keep the list intimate. This will help you cut down your food bill, allow for a smaller venue, and frankly, make your day extra special as you will share it only with those who matter most.
Bring in the Buffet
Generally, this is a much cheaper option than hosting a sit-down meal. Your guests won’t mind, as it will allow them to sneak up for seconds (or even thirds…no one is judging!).
Dealing with the Aftermath
This may sound well and good, but what if you’ve already forked over the big bucks for your big day? Fortunately, there are ways to recover.
If the wedding hasn’t yet happened, ask your vendors if they would consider refunding your deposit if you cancel well in advance. Some may honor your request if you ask early. But if the day has already come and gone and you have the debt to show for it, rest easy. You have options.
Chip away at it, One Bite at a Time
You eat the proverbial elephant one bite at a time, so take the same approach with your debt. Each month, commit to dedicating a certain portion of your income to your debt, based on when you want to have it resolved.
Honeymoon on a Budget
If your wedding cost you, consider having a modest honeymoon, or even delaying your special trip another year. You may not have the snazzy Instagram photos to show off, but you will have financial peace, which means much more in the long run.
Say NO to more Debt
If you have wedding debt, accept that you may need to delay taking on other forms of debt like student loans or a mortgage. Do the best you can to live on only your income, to plan responsibly for future expenditures, and to delay gratification until your wedding debt is resolved.
If your wedding debt becomes unmanageable or is straining your marriage, consider bringing in help. A reputable debt relief company can work with you through options like debt consolidation and debt settlement, helping you restructure your payments and set forth on a path to financial freedom.