How to Stop Wedding Debt From Ruining Your Marriage

If you're ready to get rid of your wedding day debt, here are the steps to take to help you pay off your big day.

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Are you wondering how slay that massive mountain of wedding debt?

One of the biggest expenses millennial couples face is paying for their wedding.  And weddings are expensive — the average wedding cost in 2020 was $19,000 according to The Knot's 2020 Real Weddings Study.

There are so many things to pay for: a venue, food, alcohol, photos, flowers, music, etc. The list goes on and on; the expenses can really add up. Even a “simple” wedding can cost thousands!

Paying for a wedding is especially challenging for couples who have other financial commitments like paying off student loans or trying to save up for a down payment on a house. When we got married last year, me and my now-husband ran into this challenge.  

So, we decided to use debt to pay for part of our wedding – and today I’m writing all about how we decided to take on wedding debt and how we paid it off relatively quickly.

How We Paid Off Our Wedding Debt

Here's how we made a plan of action to pay off our debt fast.

Our Wedding Budget

The very first wedding planning conversation we had was about how we would pay for the wedding.

We quickly came up with our wedding budget and made our wedding plans based on the budget. (Notice, we didn’t start with our “wedding vision” – starting with that would have gotten us in major trouble!)

Our budget was based on how much we would be able to contribute towards the wedding out of our monthly paychecks.

Together, we agreed to contribute and save $1,000 per month total towards the wedding.

And we committed to keeping up these monthly contributions for a total of 24 months.

So, our shared wedding budget was a total of $24,000.

But here’s the problem: we didn’t want to wait two years to get married!

wedding debt

The solution? Debt.

Yeah, I said it: we willingly agreed to fund part of our wedding budget with borrowed funds, or personal loans.

Why Did We Agree to Go into Wedding Debt?

wedding debt

I’m a personal finance nerd, and I know that many personal finance experts out there caution couples about wedding debt.

But my take is a little different.

I believe that debt is just a tool – and when used responsibly, it can help you reach your financial goals.

Debt is not always a bad thing; it can be advantageous when used strategically. And we were VERY strategic about borrowing money to pay for our wedding.

Our strategic decisions are what made it possible for us to pay off our wedding debt in a reasonable timeframe!

Let me explain our strategy a little further.

wedding debt

Three Strategies To Help with Getting into Debt for Weddings

Here's what worked for us to get our wedding debt in control.

Strategy #1: We Borrowed Only What We Needed

Figuring out how much to borrow was easy: we let our budget and our wedding date decide for us!

We stuck to our original budget of $24,000, and we funded our budget from our paychecks every month up to our wedding day.

When we did the math, we figured that we’d have $15,000 saved up by our wedding day.

Which left us with $9,000 to fund with debt. So, we borrowed exactly $9,000.

We had the ability to borrow much more than $9,000, but we stayed within our budget and didn’t borrow a cent more than we needed.

And I must admit, that decision required a lot of discipline!

As much as we would have liked to borrow the extra money to take a more extravagant honeymoon – we preferred to keep our debt under control.

Strategy #2: We Made Consistent Payments

We stuck to our original plan of contributing $1,000 towards the wedding each month consistently.

This took a lot of discipline because we had to cut back on a lot of regular expenses to make our contributions each month – we spent less money on dining out, traveling, and entertainment.

But it was SO worth it – if we hadn’t been consistent with our contributions, our whole plan would have fallen apart.

In the 15 months leading up to the wedding, we were consistent with our $1,000 contribution each month.

And after our wedding day, we continued to pay $1,000/month towards the wedding debt. Since we had already been putting away $1,000 each month for the past 15 months, we didn’t feel like we were burdened by our debt after the wedding.

Rather, we just kept doing what we were doing, and we paid off our wedding debt in just nine months!

We were VERY happy to celebrate our first-anniversary debt-free and it felt amazing! We felt so accomplished because we had just reached our first financial goal as a married couple.

And I truly think that our success and motivation to get out of debt helped to set a positive vibe for our future financial journey together as a married couple.

Strategy #3: We Paid Zero Interest

Our final strategy was to pay as little interest as possible – and we didn’t pay any interest at all!

Since I have such a high credit score, I had several offers for personal loans with low rates, debt consolidations or balance transfer offers on my credit cards, and we took advantage of one of those offers.

We used a balance transfer which only cost us a one-time 2% fee (which was only $180) and it allowed us to borrow $9,000 for zero percent interest for the first 15 months!

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Since we had already planned to pay off our wedding debt within nine months after the wedding, we knew this was a good call.

This saved us a lot of money during our debt payoff period.

Related: 3 Best Credit Cards for Newlyweds Finances

Putting It All Together

Using all three of these strategies, plus coming up with a solid wedding budget well beforehand, helped us pay off our credit card debt quickly.

I’d like to emphasize that coming up with our wedding budget before doing anything else is important.

We came up with our wedding budget before we did any other wedding planning and we committed to staying within that budget.

This was extremely helpful because by the time we started planning the wedding, and shopping for vendors, we already knew what we could afford, and we weren’t tempted to spend more – because we already had a plan in place to pay for everything.

It’s almost like getting pre-approved for a mortgage before shopping for a house!

The Bottom Line

I hope you can see that wedding debt is not as bad as they say it is.  If you’re smart about borrowing money, and if you have a solid repayment plan BEFORE you borrow – I think you’re in good shape.

I hope my experience with wedding debt has helped you recognize that debt is just a tool – and you can use it strategically to reach your goals WITHOUT being burdened by it.

Happy wedding planning!

About the author'
Katie Alvarez
Katie teaches busy people how to plan a wedding with straightforward, in-depth guides about saving time, money and stress.