If your child is ready to tie the knot, you’re likely excited for this special time in their life. But you might be unsure of how’ll pay for their big day. After all, between the venue, catering, flowers, and photographer, a typical wedding does not come cheap. Fortunately, there are plenty of options at your disposal. Below we’ll dive deeper into how to pay for a wedding, so you can make the best decision for your unique situation.
The average cost of a wedding
According to a 2023 report by CNN, the national average cost for a wedding is $29,000. This figure increases to $35,000 and over in major cities. Unfortunately, inflation paired with high demand is driving up wedding prices and making it difficult for couples to afford their dream ceremony and reception.
How to pay for a wedding with no money
There are a number of ways to pay for a wedding. Here are several popular options you may want to explore.
If you have family members who are in good financial shape, you might want to ask them to contribute to your child’s wedding. They can cover smaller costs, like the dress or transportation, or even help you save money by reaching out to their network and asking about deals or discounts.
Set up a time to meet with your family members and discuss what you’re looking for. Let them know you’re planning your child’s wedding and could use their assistance with some of the costs. Be prepared to accept rejection, and if they do decide to help, make sure you understand whether the money will be a gift or a loan you’ll have to repay.
Then, put everything in writing so that everyone is on the same page. Once you receive the funds, make sure you show your gratitude. You can thank them in a speech at the wedding, write them a nice card, or even give them a small gift as a token of your appreciation.
Wedding loans or personal loans
Wedding loans are personal loans that are intended for wedding expenses. Offered by banks, credit unions, and online lenders, wedding loans provide a lump sum of money upfront. Once the lender distributes the money, you’ll repay it with interest over a term that may range from one year to five years or longer.
Compared to other financing options, wedding loans come with fast funding and lengthy repayment terms. You may also borrow anywhere between $500 to $50,000 or more, depending on the lender. The downside of wedding loans is they can be difficult to get if you don’t have the best credit score. In addition, there might be fees, like origination fees, late fees, and prepayment penalties.
If you’re interested in a wedding loan, shop around and compare the interest rates, terms, and fees of all your options. Once you zero in on the ideal loan, apply online or in person. Be prepared to submit documents, such as a government-issued ID, pay stubs, and bank statements. Upon approval, you should receive your funds fairly quickly, typically via direct deposit.
The government doesn’t offer any grants to assist with wedding-related expenses. However, you may be able to find a grant if your child and their fiance are undergoing special circumstances. Wish Upon a Wedding is an example of a non-profit organization that pays for weddings and vow renewals for couples who are undergoing terminal illnesses or life-changing health conditions.
To be eligible for a grant from Wish Upon a Wedding, one person in the couple must be living with a terminal illness or a prognosis that limits their life expectancy or seriously impairs how they live their life. Also, both partners must be U.S. citizens who are over the age of 18 and the anticipated wedding date needs to be within six months of when they apply.
The couple can fill out the application online at Wish Upon a Wedding’s website or a full-time caretaker or hospice worker can do so on their behalf. If a couple receives the grant, Wish Upon a Wedding will cover a wedding of up to 50 guests. They may pay for the venue, catering, wedding planner, photographer, videographer, officiant, florist, and other wedding expenses.
Crowdfunding is when individual donors come together to fund anything, such as a wedding. In recent years, crowdfunding has become increasingly popular and some couples are using it to raise funds for their wedding. You can start a crowdfunding campaign for your child’s special day and contact friends, family, and acquaintances to request donations.
With crowdfunding, you won't have to worry about a credit check or collateral. However, you might be uncomfortable going this route, and there’s no guarantee your campaign will be successful. If you do decide to pursue crowdfunding, set up a campaign on a reputable website like GoFundMe or Kickstarter.
Make sure you clearly convey your child’s love story and explain why their wedding is so important. Use photos and videos to connect with donors on an emotional level. Also, set a realistic goal and reward donors with thank you notes, personalized favors, or even an invitation to the wedding. Whatever you do, don’t plead or beg for money, and accept the fact that not everyone will be able to or want to donate to your campaign.
0% APR credit card
A credit card can be a smart way to cover wedding costs, especially if you have good credit and qualify for a 0% APR offer. With a 0% APR credit card, you can avoid interest charges if you pay off the balance before the introductory period (usually between 12 and 21 months) ends.
Depending on the card, you might also earn a sign-on bonus or rewards, like cash back and travel points. If you’re unable to repay your balance within the intro period, you can expect a high interest rate that can steer you into a cycle of debt. A 0% APR credit card may also cause you to overspend. Additionally, missed payments will likely bring down your credit score.
Take on a side gig
If you’d like some extra cash to pay for your child’s wedding, a side gig is worth considering. This is particularly true if you can figure out a gig that allows you to make passive income so that you still have enough time to help plan the big day.
While you’ll have to put in some time initially, a passive income gig may pay off in the long run as you can enjoy a constant flow of money without too much of a commitment. Ideally, you’d choose a side gig that aligns with your unique interests, passions, and skills.
If you consider yourself an expert in something, for example, create a course or write an ebook about it. You may also rent out a room in your home, develop an app, or try affiliate marketing. Get creative and realize that the sky's the limit.
Leverage home equity
Home equity refers to the difference between the current value of your home and your mortgage balance. You can think of it as the portion of your home value that you own. If you have sufficient home equity, there are several ways you can leverage it to help cover your child’s wedding.
Home equity loan
A home equity loan can give you the chance to access your home equity via a second mortgage. You’ll use your home as collateral and receive a lump sum payout that you’ll repay through a new mortgage payment every month. A home equity loan typically comes with a fixed interest rate and repayment term between one and thirty years.
A home equity line of credit or HELOC is similar to a home equity loan but offers a revolving line of credit instead of a lump sum. You can withdraw funds as much or as little as you’d like, up to a set credit limit. Once the draw period ends, you’ll no longer be able to access the funds. The repayment period will kick in and last between 15 to 20 years. Note that HELOC rates are usually variable, meaning they can go up or down over time.
A Home Equity Investment or HEI offers a lump sum of cash. While you won’t have to make a monthly payment, you'll have to repay what you borrow plus a percentage of your home’s future appreciation. You can do so at any time during a 30-year term through a home sale, refinance, or another funding source. Since there are no prepayment penalties, you can pay back your HEI early if you prefer.
A cash-out refinance replaces your existing mortgage with a larger one, allowing you to pocket the difference in cash. Once you receive the money, you can use it in any way you’d like. Before you opt for a cash-out refinance, note that current mortgage rates are high and you’ll likely face costly closing costs and potential prepayment penalties. It’s a good idea to do the math to make sure this strategy makes financial sense.
Tips for successful budgeting and financing
Here are some tips to keep in mind as you budget and pay for your child’s wedding.
Create a detailed budget
Without a budget, wedding expenses can quickly spiral out of control. Use a spreadsheet with columns that read “estimated cost” and “actual cost.” The estimated costs will be determined by your research and the proposals you receive from vendors. Actual costs will state what you’ll actually pay. You may also add a column for “tips” and keep tabs on additional expenses for gratuity. Be sure to add a buffer of 10% to 20% of your total budget to account for surprise or unexpected expenses.
Adjust your budget
Your wedding budget is not set in stone. In fact, there’s a good chance it will increase or decrease during the planning process. If you decide to skip the 5-piece band and choose a more affordable DJ, for example, your costs will go down. On the flip side, a raise at work or another financial windfall may put you in a position to splurge or add some extra expenses.
Reduce your expenses
In a perfect world, everyone would be able to host a beautiful wedding with all the bells and whistles. The reality, however, is that unless you have unlimited funds, you’ll have to figure out how to cut down on wedding expenses. You can trim your guest list from 200 guests to 50 guests. Another option is to choose fake flowers instead of real flowers or limit the alcohol to wine or beer. Other money-saving tips include hosting the wedding during the week, using a student photographer, and sending email invites.
Consider the long-term impact of financing options
While your child’s wedding is important, so is your financial future. Before you commit to paying for it, think about how much you can comfortably afford without going into deep debt or sacrificing other financial goals, like retiring or paying for college. Make sure your child’s wedding doesn’t put you in a difficult financial situation down the road.
Watching your son or daughter walk down the aisle is one of the greatest joys in life. But it often comes with a hefty price tag. If you wish to pay for all or some of their wedding, consider all your options. Don’t be afraid to use a combination of the financing solutions we mentioned above. Just don’t go overboard, and keep your financial future top of mind.