by Maurie Backman | Feb. 12, 2019
Whether you've been planning your dream wedding since childhood or the concept only recently jumped onto your radar after getting engaged, you might soon come to find that tying the knot is a more expensive prospect than you ever imagined. The average U.S. wedding costs an astounding $33,391, according to The Knot, and that's for an affair with 100 to 150 guests. If you're having a blowout event with double the headcount, you can expect your costs to well exceed that figure. The same holds true if you have extravagant taste or are getting married in a prime venue that commands a higher price tag.
Now if you're among the many Americans who don't have $33,391 or more lying around, you might be wondering how on earth you're going to pull off a wedding. Let's be clear: The answer does not involve whipping out a credit card and racking up scores of debt. Sorry, but that's a good way to start off your marriage on a financially stressful foot. Rather, you'll need to save for your wedding in advance so that when those vendor invoices come due, you're able to pay them off immediately. Here are four steps you can take to save for your wedding -- and avoid having that magical day destroy your finances for years.
To pay for a wedding, you'll need serious money in the bank, and one good way to boost your savings is to go on an expense-slashing spree. That means taking a look at your budget and cutting back on all unnecessary purchases you tend to spend money on -- whether it's your morning latte, your store-bought lunches, or the live shows you tend to frequent on weekends.
Now you might be thinking: "Hey, that's no way to live." And on a long-term basis, it isn't. After all, what's the point of working if you can't enjoy the fruits of your labor from time to time? But we're not talking about reducing expenses on a permanent basis. Rather, cut back significantly between now and your wedding date, and then, once you're married, integrate some of those luxuries back into your budget.
If it seems like everyone you know has a second job these days, you're not crazy. But if you're willing to hustle, a side gig could put thousands of dollars back in your pocket over the course of a year. That will help you fund your wedding while avoiding debt.
The great thing about getting yourself a second gig is that it doesn't have to feel like work. If you love animals, you could sign up to pet-sit or walk dogs on weekends when their owners are away. If you're a graphic design wiz, create websites or catalogs on the side. Once you're able to monetize a hobby you enjoy, you'll have an easier time pushing yourself to do that side work -- especially when you're deep in the throes of wedding-planning and your free time is fairly limited.
If you have a credit card, or multiple, with a generous rewards program, accumulating points could help you make a dent in your wedding-related bills. Rather than cash out your rewards for gift cards or miles, convert them to actual money you can use to pay for things like flowers, invitations, or the five-piece band you're hoping to book. Similarly, if you're in the market for a new credit card, finding one with a generous sign-up bonus could work to your advantage if you open it around the time various wedding-related expenses come due. This way, you're apt to charge enough on that card to snag the bonus in question.
That said, don't apply for a half-dozen new credit cards in the hopes of maxing out those sign-up bonuses. Opening too many accounts at once could hurt your credit, and that's not something you want when you're starting a life with your soon-to-be spouse.
The good folks who attend your wedding are, for the most part, going to be showering you with gifts. But if you're able to get an advance on those gifts, you'll be able to use them to pay for the big day. While asking for gifts ahead of your wedding might play out somewhat awkwardly, if you explain to your close friends and family members that their presents will come in much handier before your wedding than after, they're likely to not only comply, but do so graciously.
There's no question about it: Weddings are expensive, and if you're not careful, yours could easily drive you into debt. Follow these tips for saving money ahead of the big day, and with any luck, you'll manage to pull off your dream wedding without landing deep in a hole.
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