The average wedding costs $28K, study says: Here are 3 ways to pay

Compare your wedding financing options in the analysis below

Couples who married in 2021 paid an average of $266 per guest, according to a new study from wedding website The Knot.  (iStock)

Getting married is a meaningful commitment, but it's also a significant financial investment. By the time you've exchanged vows and your big day has ended, your wedding can come with a momentous price tag. 

The average cost of a wedding ceremony and reception in 2021 was $28,000, according to The Knot 2021 Real Weddings Study. This is in line with pre-pandemic spending in 2019, although the average cost per guest has been rising steadily in the past few years due to smaller ceremonies. 

Average wedding cost per guest

Additionally, newlyweds spend an average of $5,000 on a honeymoon and $6,000 on an engagement ring, driving up the total cost to $39,000. And while some couples may be able to lean on family members for financial help, that's not always the case. 

Keep reading to learn more about how to pay for your wedding reception, such as utilizing credit card rewards or borrowing a wedding loan. You can visit Credible to compare interest rates on a variety of financial products for free without impacting your credit score. 


3 ways to pay for wedding expenses

It's easy to become swept away in the spirit of romance during wedding planning, but it's important to consider the financial aspect of your nuptials. With a little financial planning, it may be possible to have the wedding you want without starting your marriage saddled with debt. Here's how:

  1. Save up during your engagement
  2. Take advantage of credit card rewards
  3. Borrow a wedding loan

Keep in mind that the best way to pay for a wedding may be a combination of these strategies, and read more about in the sections below.


1. Save up during your engagement

Taking out debt for a wedding isn't typically recommended, so the best way to pay for wedding expenses is by saving in advance to avoid paying interest. To do this, you'll need to determine your wedding budget — and it's important to be realistic and plan for unexpected expenses. 

You can find ways to trim your budget, such as cutting down the guest list or choosing seasonal flowers that are less expensive. While the average couple hired 14 vendors for their wedding in 2021, you may be able to pass on pricey details like professional invites or goodies for guests. The Knot offers a wedding budget breakdown to estimate how much you should allocate for expenses:

  • Venue, catering and rentals (50%)
  • Photographer and videographer (12%)
  • Attire, wedding gown, hair and makeup (9%)
  • Wedding decor and flowers (8%)
  • Entertainment, live band or DJ (7%)
  • Wedding planner (3%)
  • Stationery (2%)
  • Officiant (2%)
  • Transportation (2%)
  • Wedding bands (2%)
  • Gifts for guests (2%)

Once you've determined your wedding budget, determine how many months you have left to save. For example, if you're planning a wedding two years in advance, then you may have about 18 months before you need to put down deposits. To save up $28,000 in that time, you'll need to put aside about $1,500 per month.

One way to simplify your budgeting strategy is to set up a direct deposit from your paycheck into a high-yield savings account, which will grow over time with interest. You can compare savings account rates on Credible to find the right bank to invest your wedding fund. 


2. Take advantage of credit card rewards

While you should avoid taking out revolving credit card debt to finance your wedding, it may be possible to take advantage of credit card rewards to save money on wedding expenses or even finance your honeymoon.

If you decide to put wedding expenses on a credit card, it's important to pay off the balance in full each month using your wedding savings fund. That way, you can avoid paying high credit card interest rates that will add to the total cost of your nuptials over time. This will require advance planning, but a budgeting app on your smartphone may be able to help you track your expenses.

Look for cards with a sign-up bonus and cash back rewards if you're looking to maximize your savings. If your goal is to help finance your honeymoon, consider opening a travel rewards card that lets you accumulate airline miles or points for hotel stays. 

It's important to note that the best rewards credit card offers are reserved for borrowers with very good or excellent credit. You can visit Credible to compare rewards cards for free without impacting your credit score.


3. Borrow a wedding loan

Going into debt for wedding expenses is typically not recommended, but the reality is that many young couples don't have enough cash saved to pay for their wedding upfront. If you need to borrow money for your wedding, personal loans offer more favorable debt repayment terms than other unsecured borrowing options like credit cards.

The average interest rate on a two-year personal loan is currently at a historic low of 9.09%, according to the Federal Reserve. That's compared to 16.44% for credit cards assessed interest. Plus, unsecured personal loans offer predictable repayment terms, since they're paid in fixed monthly installments over a period of several years.

Debt repayment terms for a $28,000 wedding


Shorter repayment terms offer lower interest rates, but the monthly loan payments will be higher. If you want lower monthly payments, a longer repayment term may be right for you — but keep in mind that your interest rate and total loan amount will be higher. You can use a personal loan calculator to estimate your debt payoff terms. 

Personal loan lenders determine your eligibility and interest rate based on your creditworthiness, including your credit score and debt-to-income ratio. Borrowers with steady incomes, low levels of debt and very good credit scores of 740 or higher will qualify for the lowest rates available. Applicants with poor credit may not meet the minimum credit score requirements for borrowing a personal loan. 

If you decide to borrow a personal loan to pay for wedding expenses, it's important to shop around with online lenders to find the best possible loan terms for your financial situation. You can compare personal loan rates across multiple personal loan lenders at once on Credible — it's free, and it won't impact your credit score.


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