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9 Ways For Couples to Have a Wedding Without Debt

Getting married and having a wedding is one of the most significant events in an individual's life. It's an event you want to have a lasting impression on your life and those who attend your special day. Financial trouble can begin at the beginning of the joyous life you plan to spend with your partner if financial limits are not established when planning your special day. To help you avoid debt while wedding planning, I asked married professionals and business leaders for their best insights. From aiming for a day other than Saturday to setting up a separate savings account, there are several ways you can plan and have a great wedding without running into debt.

How to Have a Wedding Without Debt

Aim for a Day Other Than Saturday

Sometimes you can get lower prices for your wedding costs if you have your wedding on an atypical day, such as a weekday. For example, try Friday as a compromise - It's not Saturday, and it's during the week, but at least it's at the end of the week. Then, see what venues are available and how much they would charge versus what they would charge on Saturdays.

Get Married in Your Backyard

This summer, I got married in my backyard. My wife and I spent evenings and weekends leading up to the event landscaping with free plants we got from Offerup. Since we held the event in May, flowers were everywhere, alive and well, blossoming on trees, shrubs, and other plants. My wife painted a mural on one wall in front of which we had the ceremony. We had friends from all over the world stay at our house, and they helped us decorate, cook, and prepare everything.

Everything about the wedding is beautiful and unique to us. Having so much love and acts of service from so many people in our lives made it more than memorable; it was a sacred experience, feeling like a wedding that might have been held hundreds or even thousands of years ago, with only the people you love and simple symbols of why you are brought together. The wedding cost around $5,000, but we got far more value from our shared experience than money could buy.

Stick to a Low-Key Wedding and Accept Help

Eschewing lavishness for a low-key wedding saves couples money and makes their guests happier by creating a more comfortable setting where they can spend more time with you. You can also save money by accepting gifts from friends and family who want to help make your special day more personal and affordable. For example, my sister-in-law made my hair wreaths of flowers, two of our friends provided music at the ceremony, and a coworker baked our wedding cake.

As an insurance expert, I've learned another way couples can avoid going into debt when paying for the wedding is to look into wedding insurance. Coverage typically includes costs associated with a venue cancellation or a postponement by you due to an emergency or extreme weather, any damages incurred by the venue, any illnesses or injuries occurring at the venue, vendors who fail to show up, damage to the bride or bridegroom's attire, and lost or stolen gifts.

Image of Karen Condor and article quote

Wait Longer to Save Up Before You Do the Wedding

You do not always have to have a wedding a year after you get engaged. Furthermore, you could still get married legally earlier on. If you wait longer until your marriage, you will have more time to save up for it. Although it may be difficult to wait, consider that if you work on saving a little bit every month, you will not be as steeped in debt when the wedding day finally comes.

Drew Sherman, Director of Marketing & Communications, Carvaygo

Set a Budget and Stay With it

Couples can avoid going into debt when paying for their wedding by setting a budget and sticking to it. Couples should start by creating a list of all the expenses they anticipate incurring during the wedding planning process and setting a realistic budget for each item. Once they have a total budget, they can start exploring ways to save money on individual items. For example, they may get a discount on their wedding venue if they book it during the off-peak season, or they may find a cheaper caterer by doing some research. Sticking to their budget will help ensure that they don't end up in debt after their big day.

Do Some of the Things You Need Yourself

Going DIY for décor and favors is one of the best ways a couple can avoid wedding debt. Instead of spending hundreds on décor, couples can get crafty at half the cost and make unique, memorable items in the process. Something handmade is just that much more special than something store-bought at the end of the day.

Chris Coote, Founder & CEO, California Honey Vapes

Track All Expenses on a Spreadsheet

The best way to avoid debt is to carefully track everything to ensure all spending adds up. Weddings come with excitement, making couples get carried away in a spending spree. Do not assume gifts will offset debts, so spend strictly per the budget. A spreadsheet tracking enhances budget over wishful thinking. Ensure anything in credit can be capability and timely paid per your budget. Everything financial requires accountability, and tracking is the best for an event that can be overrun by spending excitement.

Limit the Number of Guests

Couples can avoid going into debt when paying for their wedding by taking a realistic look at their guest list and ensuring it's not too big. Having too many guests can easily turn your wedding into a financial nightmare, from renting out a venue, ordering food, and covering all the other expenses. I recommend creating an Excel spreadsheet with all your expected expenses and then adding how much it would cost per person to attend your wedding. Once you know this number, you can start cutting things off the guest list until you get close to a number you can afford.

Set Up a Separate Savings Account

When my wife and I married, we were determined to avoid debt. One of the ways we were able to stay on track was by setting up a separate savings account that was dedicated solely to our wedding expenses. We automatically deposited a certain amount of money into the account every month and made sure not to use it for anything else. This allowed us to keep close track of our spending and stay within our budget. As a result, we were able to pay for our entire wedding without going into debt. I highly recommend this approach if you're planning a wedding on a tight budget.

Ludovic Chung-Sao, Lead Engineer & Founder, Zen Soundproof

Image of Ludovic Chung-Sao and article quote

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