How to Plan a Fabulous Wedding on a Budget

Yes, you can have the fabulous wedding of your dreams while staying on budget.

[Disclosure: Cards from our partners are mentioned below.]

From the cake and dinner to your dress and flowers, there’s a lot to think about when planning a wedding, especially when you’re trying to establish a budget for the big day.

According to an annual study by The Knot, the average wedding cost more than $35,000 in 2016. To cover this expense, some people decide to take out a wedding loan, but if that isn’t for you, you may want to figure out what areas are most important to you and where you can cut back.

Trimming back on your wedding expenses certainly doesn’t mean your wedding will be less extravagant. In fact, you can have the fabulous wedding of your dreams all while staying on budget. Here are five areas you can easily adjust in order to help you save.

1. The Big Day

If you’re flexible on when you have your festivities, you may really be able to save a bundle.

“Saturday is the prime day for a wedding, and you pay for that,” shopping expert Trae Bodge said. “Instead, have a Friday or Sunday wedding, as venues are less in demand, and therefore less expensive, at these times.”

2. The Dress

The Knot study found that the average U.S. bride spent $1,564 on her wedding dress in 2016. If you can’t see spending this kind of money on a dress you’ll likely only wear once, you have some options to help you save.

“Consider buying your dress pre-worn — after all, it was only worn once — and/or selling your dress after the big day,” Bodge said. “Another option is, when you’re shopping, look not only at wedding dresses but general formal wear,” she said. “Once you take ‘bridal gown’ out of the equation, the price decreases.”

3. Food & Cocktails

If you want to provide drinks for your guests, but don’t want to have a full open bar, Bodge recommended you “opt for beer, wine and possibly a signature mixed drink, which will reduce your bar bill substantially.”

In terms of cutting back on costs for food, she recommended “placing appetizers on tables rather than having them passed” so you don’t have to hire a wait staff. And you may be able to save when it comes to selecting your menu. Bodge advised “serving cheeses, dips and veggies rather than meats or fish.”

4. Flowers

Instead of having a professional put together your flower arrangements, Bodge recommended tapping into your crafty side.

“Order seasonal flowers from your local florist and arrange them yourself,” she said. “It can be a fun project for you and your bridal party!”

5. Photos

You’ll certainly want to capture the moments you experience on your big day, so it’s a good idea to hire a photographer whom you trust to get it right.

“When it comes to negotiating a photography package, forgo the pricey prints and opt for CDs or Dropbox files with high-res images,” Bodge said. “This gives you the freedom to shop around for the best print prices on your own time.”

Get Rewarded for Your Big Day

It may seem counterintuitive, but you may be able to save some money on your expenses. You’re likely going to put some of these on a credit card, so you may as well get something back for it. One way to do this: reward credit cards.

If you don’t currently have a credit card that rewards you for your spending, it may be time to check out some of your options, which can include everything from cards that give you cash back to cards with travel perks that can help you fund your honeymoon.

For example, the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card comes with a $95 annual fee but will reward you with 50,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 in the first three months (which probably won’t be too hard with the down payments you’re making).

Those bonus points are equal to $625 when redeemed through Chase’s Ultimate Rewards travel portal. With that type of kickback, the bills for appetizers and cake won’t sting as much when you realize they’re helping you get to Tahiti.

At publishing time, the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card is offered through product pages, and is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for this card. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment. This content is not provided by the card issuer(s). Any opinions expressed are those of alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer(s).

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.

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The Father of the Bride Isn’t the Only One Picking Up the Wedding Tab Anymore

I remember watching Steve Martin in “Father of the Bride” talk about his little girl getting married, saying: “I used to think a wedding was a simple affair. Boy and girl meet. They fall in love. He buys a ring, she buys a dress, they say I do. I was wrong. That’s getting married. A wedding is an entirely different proposition.”

And, it was at that point in the movie that my own father gave me this knowing look, probably imagining what would happen one day when his only daughter (a daughter with expensive taste, mind you) walked down the isle: He’d get hit with a lofty bill to pay for that dream wedding.

Well, rest easy, dad, because a new survey shows that the father of the bride isn’t always the one picking up the tab for a wedding anymore. Heck, sometimes there isn’t even a bride — or there are two — but the poll focused solely on heterosexual marriages.

The two-day SurveyMonkey Audience poll, commissioned by FiveThirtyEight, happened in August and collected the opinions of 1,050 people.

The survey zeroed in on heterosexual marriages “because there are a whole lot of inherited gender roles and history involved,” FiveThirtyEight said in a blog post.

It found that 26% of respondents said the couple should be paying for the wedding themselves. The same amount of people said it should be equally split between the couple and both sets of parents. But, not too far behind (25%) is the bride’s family. The rest of the respondents were pretty split — 12% saying the groom’s family and bride’s family should split the cost, 7% saying it’s up to the bride’s family and the couple to pay, and only 2% felt the groom’s family should take on the responsibility. Zero percent said the groom’s family and the couple should pay.

Paying for Your Wedding

If you’re getting ready to walk down the isle, no matter who is paying for the event, it certainly isn’t a day worth anyone going into extreme debt over. Remember, going into debt could make it harder for the two of you to start your life together — whether you’re looking to get a mortgage or new car — as carrying high levels of debt will hurt your credit scores. (You can see where your credit currently stands by viewing two of your credit scores for free, updated each month, on

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8 Things Americans Spend a Ridiculous Amount of Money On


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It Costs $703 Just to Attend a Wedding Now


You may dread receiving certain mail, particularly bills reminding you how much you owe. And if you’re like some Americans, you may get that same sinking feeling when a wedding invite appears in your mailbox. That’s because the average wedding now costs $703, according to a recent survey from American Express.

The American Express Spending & Saving Tracker fielded input from a random sample of 1,803 adult participants, including the general U.S. population, as well as an affluent demographic defined by a minimum annual household income of $100,000.

It found Americans will attend an average of three weddings this year and spend $703 each time, up 5% from $673 in 2015.

Millennials will spend $893, or 27% more than the average guest, while those in the couple’s wedding party could pay closer to $743, up from $701 in 2015. When millennials are in the wedding party, they can expect to pay an average of $928, the most expensive payment by far.

These totals were based on average airfare ($205), cost of wedding party attire ($166) and childcare/pet care costs ($69). Guests can also expect to spend an average of $127 on wedding gifts for relatives, up from $142 in 2015, and $99 for friends, up from $90 in 2015.

Many couples themselves are responding to the rising cost of hosting a wedding by simplifying the event (30%) with a courthouse marriage or holding an intimate ceremony. Moreover, 24% plan the wedding themselves, 21% opt for a less expensive venue and 55% complete some type of DIY wedding project.

Before planning your own wedding, you’ll need to have a firm understanding of you and your partner’s credit. It’s also helpful to know your creditworthiness if you plan to open a credit card or take out a personal loan to cover the costs. You can view your two free credit scores on

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How Much Money Can I Borrow for My Wedding?

wedding loan

Couples planning a wedding face a lot of financial decisions. It can seem like every little detail can affect your budget by hundreds of dollars (if not thousands), so if you haven’t saved a lot and aren’t getting help with the expenses, celebrating the start of a marriage can seem like more of a burden than anything else.

There are innumerable ways to put together a wedding with a small budget, but inexpensive weddings aren’t on everyone’s wish list. Many people frown on going into debt to pay for a wedding, but it happens all the time. Putting wedding expenses on a credit card can be incredibly expensive, unless you’re using a card with a low APR or a 0% promotional financing period, but there’s also the option of a personal loan. (If you were planning on taking a “free” wedding loan from SwanLuv, you can lay that plan to rest. The company pulled the plug on its offering, but can still assist you in crowd-sourcing your nuptials.)

Only about 2.1% of personal loan requests are to pay for wedding expenses, according to an analysis of loan requests made in 2015 through online marketplace LendingTree. The average loan request is $7,304.61, but the average offer amounts to $11,158.99 (meaning you could ask for more than that, if you really want to).

“Lenders often offer higher loan amounts in an effort to provide better interest rates,” Megan Grueling, the marketing and communications manager at LendingTree, said in an email. “Loans with higher amounts typically have lower interest APRs than the same loan with a lower amount, since the lenders try to maximize profitability. The smart thing for borrowers to do is to see what interest rates will be at different loan amounts, and choose the loan with the lowest total cost.”

Borrowing $11,000 for a wedding may seem like a lot (it is), but it’s not surprising, given how expensive weddings are. The average wedding costs more than $30,000, according to the most recent survey from wedding website TheKnot. Still, you’ll end up paying a lot more than $11,000 by the time you repay it, even if you get a low interest rate. You can minimize the cost of a personal loan if you pay it down aggressively and if you have a great credit score, so make sure you check it before you apply. You can get two free credit scores every 30 days on to see where you stand — people with good credit tend to get the most favorable loan terms.

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