Money

How to Pay Off a Wedding

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The average wedding costs $28,000. Unless you eloped with your significant other and got married at city hall, you probably have a stack of bills to pay from your wedding. 

The day may have been spectacular, but now you're faced with paying off wedding debt. But don't panic or have regrets — it's natural to ponder whether spending money on marriages is good or bad. Take a breath, and have a look at our suggestions for ways to pay off that debt sooner rather than later, so you can focus on your new life together.

Start saving early

The moment you decide to get married is a great time to begin saving for your wedding. Start stashing away as much of your income as you can. If your engagement period lasts a year, for example, you may be able to save up a good portion of the expense. Ideally, you'll avoid paying for your wedding on a credit card, which may come with a high interest rate.

Talk to the families

Traditionally, couples saw no problem in asking for help paying for a wedding: the bride's family usually paid for the wedding and the groom's family for the honeymoon. But that tradition doesn't hold for many modern couples who wish to pay for their own wedding or whose families don't have the means to support them. 

If you have supportive families, though, it's worth discussing if they want to chip in to help pay for the costs associated with your wedding and honeymoon. Many parents are happy to contribute, and once you know what that help entails, you can plan your expenses accordingly.

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Make sure your partner is on board

When you're thinking about how to pay for a wedding, it's a good idea to sit down with your spouse and make sure you're both on the same page financially. If you haven't already made up a budget, do it before you start booking your caterer, florist or photographer. Discuss your hopes for the future:  Children? Big home in the country? City living? Come up with a plan for financing those hopes. 

Look carefully at your day-to-day expenses and your monthly bills, and make sure you have enough money coming in for the fixed costs, which are the necessities you pay for each month. If you're both on tight budgets, it may be prudent to plan a smaller wedding with fewer expenses.

Choose your debt-busting strategy

There are four common strategies that experts recommend when looking for the best way to pay for a wedding:

  • Debt snowball: Pay your smallest debt first so you can feel a sense of accomplishment, then tackle them in ascending order.
  • Debt avalanche: Pay as much as you can on the debt with the highest interest rate first, and pay the minimum on the others. This strategy will save you the most money.
  • Debt consolidation: Dump all your debts into a single new one that you finance at a lower interest rate by taking out a loan or using a debt transfer credit card.
  • Debt management: If you're in trouble with your debt, adopt a plan proposed by a non-profit counseling agency or financial advisor; they may be able to save you some money on your interest rate and get you smaller monthly payments.

The debt avalanche gives you the most bang for your buck. If you can afford it, consider following that procedure, paying down expensive debts first and waiting on those with lower interest (paying only the minimum on them). 

Scale back expenses temporarily

If you're facing a mountain of debt when you get married, this tip is obvious: take a careful look at your budget. Look especially at expenses you don't think about twice, like that daily Starbucks, and see where you can — temporarily — make some cuts. Consider things like dining out, gym memberships, travel expenses, and other variable expenses that aren't totally necessary. 

Consider a six-month moratorium on going out for entertainment, for example, and use the money saved to pay down wedding bills. 

Let's be clear: you don't have to eliminate all the fun from your lives -- but even shaving a few dollars off non-fixed expenses can help you.

Increase your income

You've cut back on expenses and done everything you can, but you still find yourself asking, how do I pay for my wedding? Maybe it's a good time to consider a side hustle. With the rise of the gig economy, it's become more accessible than ever to turn a hobby or skill into a part-time job. 

If you're in a position that frequently offers overtime — for example, some health care professions — snap up some extra hours here and there to beef up your paycheck. 

Be careful with this: you don't want to overdo it and burn out, after all. But adding on just five hours to your work every week could help make a significant dent in your wedding debt.

Get help when you need it

A wedding is a blessing, and there's no harm in asking for help paying for a wedding — or in in seeking assistance organizing and planning how to do so. If you have a financial advisor, schedule a meeting to discuss options. 

If paying for a pricey financial expert seems counter-productive, look for non-profit debt management organizations in your region. You can also check out the National Foundation for Credit Counseling website to find out more about low-cost or free services that can help you get back on track.

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