Which is more expensive: planning a wedding or buying a new car? If you guessed the wedding, you’re right; the average cost to get married in the United States was $38,700 in 2019, with a new set of wheels lagging behind at $36,718.
Just as most people need financing to afford a new car, many are turning to loans as a source of funds for their wedding, too. In fact, The Washington Post reported that there was a 400% increase in wedding loans issued from 2018 to 2019. But are wedding loans the best way to finance your wedding? What other wedding finance options are out there?
What is a wedding loan?
A wedding loan is a specific type of personal loan for weddings marketed towards engaged couples who are planning a day they can’t afford to pay for with cash. These loans are easy and quick to apply for; many lenders will even approve you online in a few minutes.
Some couples may use a wedding loan to finance certain parts of their big day, like upgrading the catering options, while others will use financing to pay for the whole thing. The interest rates on these loans vary. Some are lower than credit cards, making them more attractive to young couples, but others may go as high as 30%. On average, couples seem to be borrowing around $16,000 and spend three years paying it back.
When does a wedding loan make sense?
It’s easy to get carried away planning the wedding of your dreams, especially with the constant influence of social media platforms like Instagram and Pinterest. But don’t take out a wedding loan to inflate your total budget just because you can. When deciding whether to take out loans for wedding costs, think about how important it is to have the extra budget.
If financing your wedding is necessary to invite important family members and loved ones, it probably makes sense. If all you’ll be missing out on is a donut wall and custom handwritten invitations, you should think twice about whether you can simply reduce costs to fit your budget.
Since wedding loans are unsecured, you don’t need to put anything up for collateral. That’s the good news. But it also means that lenders are pickier about who they give loans to, so you’ll need a fantastic credit history to get a decent interest rate. If your credit score isn’t quite where you’d like it to be, you might end up with a significantly higher interest rate than you’d get through alternative financing options like a credit card.
Pros and cons of wedding loans
Pros of wedding loans
- Unsecured loans don’t put your possessions on the line
- Soft credit check doesn’t show up on your credit report
- Interest rates are sometimes lower than credit cards
- Repayment term of three to five years
Cons of wedding loans
- May involve taking on more debt, on top of what you might already have
- Interest rates can be high, especially if you don’t have a good credit score
- Wedding loans are often used to spend unnecessarily on optional upgrades and extras
Alternative wedding financing options
Before wedding loans became popularized, many couples turned to credit cards to fund wedding costs that they couldn’t pay up front. The problem with this alternative wedding finance option is that credit cards typically carry very high interest rates, so you could end up paying back more than you would with a dedicated personal loan for weddings.
However, some credit cards offer introductory 0% APR for 12 months after opening the account, meaning you have a year to pay off the balance without being charged interest. This is a great means to pay for vendor deposits and other immediate costs that you can’t cover right away, but plan to pay off in the next few months.
Next, try saving for a few years before a wedding. Dipping into any savings account you and your betrothed have can actually be better in the long run when you don’t have to pay interest on loans or credit cards used to finance a wedding.
Additionally, some family members may be willing to help you pay for a wedding. If you can agree with a family member who wants to help foot the bill for the big day, then this is a no-strings-attached way to finance a wedding without having to take out a wedding loan, use a credit card or dip into your own savings.
Tips to save on wedding costs
If you find yourself turning to wedding loans to finance a large portion of your wedding, stop to think about whether there’s any way you can trim costs without sacrificing the important parts of your big day. Here are just a few ways to bring the price down without putting yourself into debt:
- Pick an off-peak day like Friday or Sunday
- Limit open bar offerings to wine and beer
- Design and print your own invitations
- Host the ceremony and reception in the same location
- Go for a minimalist wedding cake
- Replace flowers with candles
- Buy your wedding dress several months in advance
- Limit professional photography to a few hours
- Use standard place settings and linens
- Serve a buffet-style dinner
The bottom line
Four times as many couples are turning to wedding loans as just one year ago. With the cost of an average wedding steadily climbing, fewer people are able to finance their big day out of pocket. Wedding loans are becoming more widely available due to demand and may offer more favorable interest rates than credit cards and other financing options.
But before you put yourself into debt, consider whether you really need to finance wedding costs or if you can reduce the total price by making a few small sacrifices that won’t really affect your guests’ experience. You can still have the perfect day without spending a fortune.