Portions of this article were drafted using an in-house natural language generation platform. The article was reviewed, fact-checked and edited by our editorial staff.

Key takeaways

  • Addressing wedding debt early on in a marriage is crucial for reducing stress and building a strong foundation for the relationship.
  • Monetary wedding gifts, the debt snowball or avalanche methods, balance transfer credit cards and debt consolidation loans can be tools to pay off wedding debt.
  • Open communication and proactive steps toward optimizing finances can lead to a stable financial future for newlyweds.
Walking down the aisle is a joyous occasion, but the cost of the big day can often leave couples with a significant amount of debt. While this is common among many American newlyweds, it’s critical to promptly address wedding debt. Not doing so could put a damper on long-term financial goals like buying a house, starting a family or saving for retirement.

The importance of addressing wedding debt

A recent survey found that a third of American newlyweds financed at least some of their wedding costs. The average couple ended up racking up about $11,740 worth of debt, with 37 percent regretting this choice.

Addressing debt early on in a marriage is critical for several reasons. First, the lingering debt may cause a strain in your relationship due to increased stress, which can lead to frequent arguments and create resentment.

By dealing with wedding debt quickly, couples can reduce feelings of frustration and build a healthier and more robust foundation for their marriage.

Paying off wedding debt quickly also allows couples to focus on savings without the burden of persistent debt. This can make setting and achieving long-term financial goals easier, such as buying a house and starting a family.

Strategies for paying off wedding debt

There are several ways to attack wedding debt. But for any of these to work, both partners must be on the same page and remain transparent and committed throughout the process.

Use wedding gifts

Monetary wedding gifts can serve as a practical resource to aid newlyweds in paying off wedding debt. It’s prudent to consider applying some cash towards the wedding bills first.

This approach helps initiate your marital journey without the burden of debt, making it an investment in your relationship and future financial stability. However, before touching the funds, it’s important to converse as a couple about your financial goals and ensure you agree on how to use the funds. Otherwise, it could seem like a breach of trust and create tension down the line.

Apply the debt snowball or avalanche method

Debt payoff strategies, such as the debt snowball or avalanche method, can be effective for managing wedding debt. The snowball method involves paying off the smallest debts first — regardless of their interest rate. The avalanche method, on the other hand, prioritizes paying off debts with the highest interest rates first.

Both methods can help reduce the overall amount of interest paid and expedite the pay-off process. Using the snowball method, you gain momentum through small wins, which boosts motivation. The avalanche method can save more money over the long term as it focuses on debts with the highest interest first, but it can also be a slower process.

To choose the right strategy, list all your debts, along with their outstanding balances and interest rates. The snowball method may make more sense if you have many debts with similar interest rates. But, if you have debts with very different interest rates, the avalanche method may be the better approach, as you could save more.

Consider a balance transfer credit card

A balance transfer credit card is a financial tool that allows you to transfer high-interest credit card balances to a new account with a 0 percent introductory period. This can be a strategic way to manage and pay off wedding debt, as it helps you save on interest charges and potentially pay down the principal faster.

When utilizing a balance transfer card to pay off wedding debt, it’s essential to have a repayment plan in place to pay off any outstanding balance before the 0 percent introductory period ends. That way, you’ll maximize your savings and avoid paying ordinary interest.

Explore debt consolidation loans

A debt consolidation loan is a type of personal loan that allows you to merge multiple unsecured debts into one account with a fixed interest rate. Oftentimes, these loans have lower interest rates than the average credit card.

The process involves applying for and receiving a loan for the amount of your total debt and then using that money to pay off each individual debt. You are then left with a single monthly payment on your debt consolidation loan, which streamlines your finances and makes it easier to manage your debt.

Debt consolidation loans may also serve as a tool to create a clear timeline for when you will be debt-free. Some lenders even offer the convenience of paying your creditors directly, which further streamlines the process.

This approach is best suited for those with good-to-excellent credit to secure the lowest rates. Though some lenders offer bad credit loans, these often come with higher interest rates and fees, which may defeat the purpose of saving money in interest.

Optimizing your finances to pay off wedding debt

After the wedding, looking at your combined financial picture and making changes where needed is a good idea. Consider the following options to create a solid financial plan moving forward:

  • Sell wedding items: Consider selling your wedding dress, bridesmaid dresses or decorations on platforms like eBay, Poshmark or specialized wedding resale sites. This can recoup some of the expenses and clear up some storage space in your home.
  • Review subscriptions and memberships: As a newly married couple, you may have duplicate subscriptions or memberships, such as gym memberships or streaming services. Review these together and cancel any that are redundant or not being used. This can lead to significant monthly savings.
  • Opt for low-cost date nights: Opt for lower-cost or free activities instead of expensive nights out. This could include cooking a romantic meal at home, going for a hike or having a movie night with a streaming service you already subscribe to.
  • Meal Planning: Eating out or ordering takeout can add up quickly. Instead, plan your meals in advance and cook at home. Not only is this often healthier, but it’s also much more budget-friendly.
  • Consolidate accounts: Consolidating your bank accounts and insurance policies could lead to savings through combined discounts or reduced fees. Managing your finances as a couple can be much simpler when everything is in one place.
  • Keep an eye out for financial opportunities: Look for extra income and cash by exploring legitimate side hustles or using any windfalls like tax refunds to make lump-sum payments on your debt. You can also put any amount left over into a joint savings account to build a nest egg for future goals.

The bottom line

Addressing wedding debt early in a marriage is crucial for creating a strong foundation and achieving long-term financial goals. It’s also important to optimize your finances together as a couple and communicate openly about financial goals. Couples can pave the way for a less stressful and stable future by taking action and being proactive.