Weddings and Debt: Starting off on the right foot

Tuesday 14 August, 2018 Budgeting

With the summer almost over and Christmas around the corner, wedding season is in full swing. I’ve attended my fair share of weddings recently and it never ceases to amaze me how much thought and effort goes into the celebrations. While it’s great to share in the special days of family and friends, it’s easy to forget just how costly weddings are. Stag/hen parties, honeymoons, the band, chair covers. It all adds up. Even when staying within a strict budget, costs are often measured in tens of thousands. I was married four years ago and I vividly remember the worry – how on earth will we manage? Thankfully with planning and perseverance, we got there in the end, but I can appreciate how easily people get into debt while saving for the biggest day of their lives.

The phenomenon of wedding debt is a fairly modern and underreported one. What’s more, the problem seems to get worse with each passing year. For example, in days gone by, couples only had to worry about the costs of the wedding itself and, if they were lucky, the honeymoon. Nowadays, the costs seem to be much more pronounced. These days it’s not uncommon for stag parties to venture as far as Las Vegas, while the wedding celebrations themselves often run over into the following evening. That’s before we get to increasingly expensive honeymoon destinations. A weekend in Blackpool doesn’t seem to entice anymore, with couples opting for more exotic destinations like USA, the Far East and Australia. And of course there’s a host of expenses before you even get to the wedding day: engagement rings, engagement parties and visits to potential venues, to name but a few.

Wedding debt is a serious issue. Some believe that debt is the number one reason why marriages fail. While having a big day is great, it’s more important that the marriage actually lasts! Nobody wants to start their married life with unnecessary debt, so how can you ensure the best wedding possible, while not stretching your finances uncomfortably? The key is to think outside the box. There are ways to have a great wedding without breaking the bank. Huffington post has some excellent tips for making the most of your budget.

Budgeting and planning are always important in avoiding debt, but this is especially true when organising a wedding. By setting a budget (and sticking to it), costs can be curtailed. It’s best not to think about what you want, but rather what you can afford. You can then plan the day based on your budget, rather than deciding a wish list and then trying desperately to pay for it. An affordable budget should be the first step. MoneySavingExpert discuss no less than 50 ways to budget a wedding effectively. Check out their tips for budgeting your big day!

Prioritising what you really want is also important – what ideas can be shelved? The website also stresses the benefits of haggling in getting the best deal. An interesting tip is refraining from using the word “wedding” in your negotiations! MSE explains that retailers often hike their prices when they know the item is for a wedding. Alternatively, try saying it’s for a party and then mention your wedding once the best deal is already secured. Alas, there’s no easy way to pay for a wedding. Like a lot of things in life, good experiences often cost money. However, with some effective budgeting and lateral thinking, you can have a great wedding day while starting married life off on the right foot, free from debt.

Shane McGuigan
Aperture IVA