Don't go into debt for a wedding. Have the celebration you can realistically afford!
Don’t let tying the knot tie you down in financial debt. The average marriage celebration is estimated to cost $25,000 to $30,000, as couples get real about what they’ve spent in the aftermath of wedding stress and bliss.
When wedding bells should be ringing, alarm bills on your budget are going off instead. These are the signs to look for when you’re about to have a red wedding:
5 Reasons Why Wedding Debt is a Big Mistake
1. You're Allowing Outside Forces to Pressure You
A third of couples go into debt for their wedding. If you’re planning your wedding based on a “dream” list that your family or society or the wedding industrial complex has forced upon you, stop right this second. Don’t make wedding decisions or purchases because it’s what’s expected or traditionally done.
If you don’t care about having a bridal squad, bachelorette parties, flowers or table decorations, speak up! It’s better to be true to yourself and your priorities than to swipe your credit card and accrue a bunch of wedding debt for a day you couldn't actually afford. Don’t plan a wedding in the red where you’re stuck paying off wedding debt five to ten years after the big day!
The key here is to get real about what's important to you and your partner and prioritize accordingly. What’s the one big-ticket item you do care about? Is it the dress, the reception, the honeymoon? Focus financial energy towards your must-have items to make the wedding goals you care about happen.
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2. It’s Just One Day
Don't buy into the advice that says your big day is the most important day of your life. Yes, it's a very important and very special day. However, it's only one day. The focus here should be on your marriage, not the party that kicks it off. You don't want to let one day turn into years of paying down wedding debt.
Many married couples describe their happy day as a blur of festivity and worry. Every detail must be perfect. Aunt Beatrice can’t sit next to Uncle Joe, or it’ll be the end of the world. Make your mantra: “It’s just one day. We have the rest of our lives.” Focus on what brings you joy, and if that means shipping off to Vegas to do it — so be it.
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3. It Will Add Extra Stress to The Start of Your Marriage
It’s normal to stress over the budget for the big day. Everyone will tell you that it’s a part of the process. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
For married couples, fights over money are one of the major sources of disputes and one of the biggest reasons that potentially lead to divorce. If money is a sore spot for the two of you now, make an effort to get on the same page financially and build good communication channels. A prenuptial agreement might be worth discussing. Some people think that prenups ruin romance, but in some circumstances, it’s worth considering. Especially if one (or both) of you carry significant personal debt, you can protect the other from having the liability of your financial burden.
Discuss your mutual relationships with money and debt, and know that you need to talk about how you will handle your finances as a unit now. This will build a stronger marriage.
4. It’s Only Getting More Expensive to Raise Kids
Kids are expensive, depending on if you want them and how many you want. As neatly as you may have your life planned, kids can’t be predicted.
From birth to the age of seventeen, the average child will cost $233,610 to raise, or the upbringing of each child will cost $14,000 annually. Sacrifices are expected when you have children, but to give them the quality of life they deserve — that you deserve — pay down your debt before marriage.
Don’t get into debt for your wedding. Enter your marriage and parenthood without feeling married to your bills, and you’ll be able to focus your attention on life’s greatest blessings.
5. You Have Larger Mutual Financial Goals
Many of your life goals will be uniquely your own, and taking the journey toward them is best done with your partner. This is something you promise each other when you take your vows.
Going into wedding debt may push your financial, career and family goals further back than you are willing to compromise. As you discuss your relationship with money and debt, you must also discuss each of your timelines or where you see yourselves in the future. Goals change, and people change. Make sure you are traveling this journey of life together as a team every step of the way.
Save your sanity and the sanctity of your marriage now by not going into debt for a wedding. Focus on your priorities first and conquer all obstacles as a team, because that’s what the married life is all about. You won’t look like Bridezilla or Groomvader for standing your ground and giving a gentle — or firm — reminder of that fact. This day is symbolic of the rest of your life. Set an example for your future married self, and start out on the right foot.
This is your special day, but remember it's just one day at the beginning of a lifetime of special days together. If, for whatever reason, you do end up taking on some wedding debt to pay for your big day, check out these tips for minimizing the damage from Intuit. Our best advice? Have a longer engagement to save for the celebration you want!
Editor's note: Due to the pandemic, some of the general wedding planning advice we share may not be applicable or possible due to restrictions on events. Please adhere to all current regulations and stay safe and healthy! Get more resources for planning a pandemic wedding here.