How to pay for a wedding – 4 tips for navigating wedding loans

By MoneyLion

Key Takeaways:

  • The growing cost of weddings means most people can’t pay for it all themselves.
  • If debt is inevitable, seek out low-cost loan options.
  • But like any other personal loan, good credit gets you better terms.

It may be true that fewer young adults are getting married these days, but for those taking that next step, the traditional wedding is even more of a significant financial event.

Earlier this year, wedding planning site The Knot reported that the average cost of a wedding in 2015 was more than $32,000 – that’s about $5,000 more than what it cost just five years earlier.

Considering that the average household income is only about $54,000, a glaring gap exists for many couples trying to figure out how to pay for the event. And sure enough – only 12 percent of those surveyed by The Knot said they completely paid for weddings on their own.

For some, the old-fashioned method of having parents foot the bill is certainly a financial godsend. But at current prices, that option isn’t always available – the reality for many couples is that they’ll get some financial help from family, but need to to come up with the remainder.

That has many couples considering wedding loans to pay for their big day. Given the amount of new debt potentially at stake, it’s worth careful consideration before signing any loan agreements.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind if you’re considering loans for weddings:

  • You’re sure you need this, right? Even if you’re seeking a loan for even half the average wedding cost, that’s still more than $16,000 in debt that could take you several years to repay. With that number staring you in the face, it’s worth thinking hard about options to avoid taking on that burden.

    In an ideal scenario, you might have assets, like a second car or an investment account not tied to retirement needs, that you could sell to offset the cost of your wedding.

    Another alternative is to push back your wedding date and target a plan to save for a wedding “nest egg.”

    Finally, consider cost-cutting measures – a smaller venue, fewer guests, foregoing the freshly cut flowers, or even getting a wedding dress tailor made for you from overseas from companies like lace & liberty – that could bring the event within your ability to pay without additional – or at the very least, less – debt.

  • How much money do you need for a wedding, and how much can you afford? Can you answer these two questions right now? Unfortunately, not answering these two simple questions is how people are often led into getting overwhelmed by debt, unable to do anything more than pay required monthly minimums.

    Step 1: First, make it a point to understand your income, spending habits, and how much savings you have now and into the future. A good first step is establishing a budget and sticking to it.

    If you aren’t aware of how much total debt you and your partner have, now is the time to start. Collect your bills, add up the monthly payments, then include what your wedding loan payment will be. Are you comfortable with what you’ll now have to pay every month as a couple? The last thing you need is a surprise.

    Step 2: Sit down with your partner and figure out a budget for your wedding, thinking about what expenses are must haves versus nice to haves and coming up with a high-medium-low wedding budget.

    By following the two steps above you’ll be able to figure out how much money you’ll save to pay off any wedding loan you get, which will then help you figure out what kind of a wedding you can afford. Want a luxurious wedding that falls on the “high” end of the spectrum? That means you’ll likely need a bigger personal loan, which means you’ll need to adjust your budget to start saving more today and into the future to pay off your loan.

  • A wedding loan is still a personal loan. A wedding loan isn’t a technical term – what you’re doing is taking out a personal loan to pay for a wedding.

    That means the standard rules for personal loans still apply – most importantly, you want the best loan terms you can find. Part of your choice is where to get the loan.

    If it’s available to you, consider a credit union, which often offers the best rates available. Online lenders are also a good option, but make sure the rates aren’t too high.

    How high is partly up to you – as with any personal loan, the better your credit score, the better terms you’re likely to get. Take steps to get your credit score in the best shape you can. Don’t know your credit score yet? Now is a good time to find out: sign up and get your TransUnion credit score for free from MoneyLion.

  • Consider using your credit card… responsibly. This is the most popular option for covering wedding costs, and if you have a healthy credit score it could be better than a loan.

    Look for cards offering a 0 percent annual rate, which could let you pay off your wedding debt interest-free for the next 12 to 18 months. If you don’t pay off the entire amount in that time, be aware of how high the rate goes after the initial “teaser” period. Another upside to using a credit card is that you get fraud protection on all of your purchases.

    And, if you’re going to use a card anyway, any points you earn on a rewards card could help you offset the cost of your honeymoon with free or cheap flights and hotel bookings.

    However, beware the chief danger of credit cards: they can entice you to overspend your original budget.

    Many financial analysts believe personal loans for weddings should be avoided, offering too much temptation to overshoot spending and making you and your spouse begin your marriage with a big financial hole. But if you’re committed to obtaining a loan, do your best to limit your future debt burden.

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