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How to Fund Your Wedding

Key Takeaways

  • Be candid with your fiancé and family about your budget. Communication is key!
  • Determine your timeline. There are different options available for short- vs. long-term savings plans.
  • Tap all free or low-cost resources first. Are your parents chipping in? Will your Uncle John’s band play for free?

Congratulations! Weddings are a huge milestone where friends and family gather to celebrate you, your partner, and the life you plan to build together. It’s important to reflect on that as you make your way through the wedding planning phase.

And now that you’ve reflected, you’re Googling “how to pay for my wedding” because, yes, weddings are expensive! You not only need to pay for wedding invitations, but also for those save-the-date postcards… and a venue… and a band… and the flowers…

The average U.S. wedding costs upwards of $35,000, and for most, that’s a significant amount of money. Here are some tips to guide you through the process, while also helping you save and pay for your big day more effectively.

What are the rules of (financial) engagement?

When it comes to funding a wedding, no matter how you decide to save or spend, here are three essential rules to keep in mind:

Rule 1: Have fast access to your cash. Planning for a wedding is typically a short-term goal, lasting anywhere from a few months to a few years. Venues, hotels, planners, and photographers may require up-front payments, so you’ll need quick access to your cash when you want it.

Rule 2: Make your money work harder. When planning for short-term goals like a wedding, there are savings vehicles that allow your money to work harder for you. Money market accounts and certificates of deposit (CDs) tend to have higher interest rates than traditional savings accounts, which puts more money in your pocket (more on those later).

Rule 3: Talk it out. While not as strategic as rules 1 and 2, open and honest communication about your finances is equally important. Be candid with your fiancé and your respective families about your financial concerns and what you want out of your big day.

Pro tip: To start, make a list of "must-haves" and priorities. You’ll likely have to compromise, so be flexible when insisting on additions like the wedding band’s brass section.

You may also want to speak with family members to see if they already have budgeted finances to help pay for your wedding. Have a thorough understanding of all your resources and your timeline so you’re positioned to make the best financial decisions.

The good news is there are a variety of financial options available to help you save for and fund your wedding. Keeping these rules of engagement in mind, let’s take a look at some options to discover which combination may be right for you.

Short-term financial planning

Most couples tend to set their wedding date within one to three years of their engagement. If you fall into this category, you may want to look at the following short-term savings options:

Refinance your student loans: If you or your spouse went to college or grad school, you may have some student loan debt. While couples can no longer consolidate their student loans together, individuals can refinance federal and private student loans.

Refinancing means your federal and private loans could be consolidated into a single loan, and perhaps lock in a lower interest rate and reduced monthly payment in the process. This could free up extra cash for those wedding table centerpieces and then some!

If you’ve already refinanced, be sure to check-in with your fiancé. A surprising number of people are unaware of the benefits of student loan refinancing options.

Take out a wedding personal loan: With fixed- or variable-rate options available, taking out an unsecured personal loan could fill the financial gaps in your wedding planning. Calculate your goals and borrow only what you need, then work to customize your loan options.

Consider the repayment term length (typically between three and seven years) and interest rate type (fixed or variable) of the personal loan. Once approved, funds can land in your account in as little as two business days. Some lenders charge loan origination, application, and disbursement fees, so read the fine print to avoid those.

Get a HELOC: HELOC is an acronym for a home equity line of credit. While its name may sound a little confusing, the product itself is a piece of (wedding) cake.

A HELOC enables people to access credit against the value of their homes. Depending on the borrower’s creditworthiness and mortgage balance, a HELOC could provide liquidity (typically at a lower interest rate than private loans) with flexible repayment terms. Frequently used for home renovations and repairs, HELOCs can also be used for a variety of other things, like consolidating debt, paying for college, and, in your case, a wedding.

Open a CD: Once your money is set aside, there are more strategic ways to make it work harder for you while it’s sitting in the bank. A CD typically pays out higher interest rates than traditional savings accounts and promises fixed rates over a previously-determined period of time.

If you know, for example, that you’d like to be married within two years, consider opening a CD that matches your timeline. Money that would normally sit in a low interest checking or savings account is now positioned to earn more of a return for you.

Open a money market accounts: Money market accounts also tend to earn a higher return than traditional savings accounts, but provide more access to your funds. Keep in mind that while the wedding may take place on a single day, the bills often trickle in over time. The venue may require a down payment and the florist may request to be paid in advance. Like CDs, money market accounts are often subject to varying fees and minimum account balances, so find what works best for you based on your goals.

Set and forget your savings account: Most banks allow for automated savings options, so you can automatically transfer a certain amount from your checking account to your savings before you have a chance to know it’s there to spend. However, you'll need to make sure you have enough money in your account to complete the transfer, otherwise you risk overdrafting.

Some savings accounts require a minimum opening or daily balance, so pay attention to the fine print to be sure you’re getting the most out of this option. 

The bottom line

Funding a wedding may seem daunting at times, but know there are many options available, whether paying for it yourself or splitting it with family. Use the right mix of borrowing and saving options for your timeline and financial needs. Review your current budget, be open and honest about your financial concerns, and communicate with your fiancé. It makes good financial sense and, perhaps more importantly, is great practice for your happy marriage ahead.

More information

Your wedding is a moment you'll cherish for years to come. Our colleagues are committed to helping you find the best way to save for your big day. To learn more, please call 1-800-922-9999, visit us online, or Ask a Citizen at your nearest Citizens Bank branch.

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