5 ways to pay for your wedding

Experian suggests five ways to pay for a wedding while costs continue to increase.


A photograph of a newly-wed couple raising a toast with wedding guests.

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The average wedding costs $35,000, according to 2023 data from The Knot. That's up $5,000 from the prior year—an increase driven by inflation and high demand. Of course, the price of a wedding can be much higher or much lower depending on personal factors, such as where you choose to hold the wedding and how many people you include on your guest list: The average price per guest was $304 in 2023, up $43 from the year before.

Average costs vary considerably by state as well. The most affordable state to get married in is Utah, where the tab comes to $17,000 on average, and the most expensive locale is New Jersey, at $55,000 on average.

However you choose to tie the knot, Experian suggests these five ways to pay for your wedding.

1. Tap Into Savings

The ideal way to pay for your wedding is with savings set aside specifically for the event. Creating a dedicated wedding sinking fund well in advance of your wedding date will give you the opportunity to stash away funds over time. Giving yourself more time to save can make reaching your goal easier. 

For example, if you want to hold your wedding in two years and spend $20,000 on the ceremony, you'd need to stash away $10,000 per year. That means saving about $834 a month. Looking for ways to lower your spending can help you free up extra money to set aside for your big day. 

2. Get Help From Loved Ones

Asking your parents to chip in for your wedding is well-grounded in tradition, but every family is different. When planning to ask your family how they may be able to contribute, set aside time to have the conversation in person. Money talks can be stressful, even amidst the excitement of planning a wedding. But getting clear on expectations early on can help avoid more stress later. Plus, you'll be left with a realistic idea of your budget and how much you and your partner will need to cover. 

3. Use a Credit Card

Taking on debt to pay for your wedding is a big decision, and one that you should only consider if you do so with a plan for how you'll fit paying it off into your other financial goals. 

While it's not a good idea to put the entire cost of your wedding on credit cards, it can be smart to use an introductory 0% APR credit card to help pay for some of your wedding expenses. These cards offer a promotional period in which you can make purchases and carry a balance without being charged interest. Promotional periods may last around 12 to 21 months, which could give you time to pay off your balance before interest begins to accrue. 

But this strategy can easily backfire if you aren't able to pay off your balance before the end of your promotional period, when interest kicks in—often at rates above 20%. That could leave you paying a lot more for your wedding than you bargained for. 

4. Apply for a Wedding Loan

Wedding loans are another name for personal loans you take out to cover wedding expenses. The appeal of personal loans is that they tend to charge lower interest rates than credit cards. Plus, they offer a predictable repayment schedule with fixed rates. 

But every loan comes with its own terms. And, though they may be lower than credit cards, personal loan rates are still pretty high: The average rate on a 24-month personal loan hovered above 12% at the beginning of 2024, according to the Federal Reserve. 

To put that in perspective, if you borrowed $10,000 with a 12% interest rate and repaid it over two years, you'd end up paying an extra $1,298 in interest alone by the time you pay off the loan. You'd also be on the hook for paying about $470 a month for two years, which could make it challenging to reach your other financial goals. 

If you're considering using a loan to finance your wedding, start monitoring your credit well before you plan to apply. You'll see alerts to changes in your credit, plus personalized insights into how you could improve your score. Making good credit moves can help you lock in better rates when the time comes to borrow. 

5. Consider a 401(k) Loan

If you have sizable retirement savings in your 401(k), you may be tempted to pull from those funds as a way to fill in gaps in your wedding budget. But experts caution against tapping into your retirement savings, even if you intend to repay it. 

If you don't repay your 401(k) loan on time, you'll be stuck paying early withdrawal penalties and taxes. Plus, pulling from your retirement savings can stand in the way of making progress toward your long-term savings goals. 

The Bottom Line

When it comes to footing the bill for your big day, paying with savings or gifts from loved ones is the best option from a purely financial perspective. Avoiding borrowing for your wedding means entering a new era in your relationship without new debt to worry about. 

You might decide that it's worth it to make some concessions to keep your wedding within your budget. For example, a buffet-style reception has a more casual vibe than a plated one, and tends to come at a lower price tag. And opting for a DJ over a live band could help you ring in happily ever after at a fraction of the cost.

This story was produced by Experian and reviewed and distributed by Stacker Media.