Couples Caught Off Guard by Wedding Planning Costs

Many couples creating initial budgets that are unrealistic
A bride gets ready for her wedding.

If you’re planning to get married this year, prepare to pay up. Couples are spending on average 45 percent more on their weddings than they planned, according to a report by online marketplace WeddingWire.

The 2019 WeddingWire Newlywed Report found that the biggest reason couples are spending more than they anticipated is a lack of understanding of all the costs associated with getting married. Thirty-three percent said their original budget was not realistic and 60% of couples said they revised their budgets after they became more familiar with common costs.

Here are other reasons couples are spending more than they anticipated:

  • 28% came across extras that they “needed to have” during the planning process
  • 25% wanted to add personalized elements to the wedding
  • 24% revised the number of invited guests
  • 21% made upgrades to their earlier plans

It’s not surprising that many couples are taken by surprise when it comes to budgeting for their weddings when you consider the fact that the costs of getting married have been rising in recent years. In 2018, the average wedding cost more than $44,000, according to the Brides 2018 American Wedding Study. That was up from $27,000 in 2017.

Money is also playing a role in when couples get married in the first place. While millennials make up the largest percentage of marrying couples, many are marrying later in life when they are more financially secure. A 2018 study by Pew Research found that 29 percent of unmarried millennials said that the reason they were still single was because they were not financially prepared. The average age of marriage is now 33, according to the WeddingWire report.

When couples do get married, the WeddingWire report found that they are depending less on their parents for help with the financial costs than in years past. The average couple pays for 45 percent of their wedding costs while getting the rest of the money from family and friends. When it comes to their own contributions, couples are coming up with the money in a variety of ways.

  • 42% take money from savings to pay for their weddings
  • 30% are exploring ways to make extra money to pay for their nuptials
  • 20% are turning to credit cards and going into debt to pay for their weddings

Since it’s unlikely that the costs of getting married will decline in the near future, couples who expect to marry in the next couple of years should consider planning for the costs sooner rather than later. The WeddingWire report found that millennials are 15 percent more likely than Generation X couples to start planning their weddings before they are even officially engaged. In doing so, the couples who planned early may have more money saved to cover the costs.

By doing some initial research into the expected costs of planning a wedding, you can set a realistic budget and come up with ways to raise the money if you don’t already have enough money in savings. If you do have to use a credit card to pay for a portion of your wedding, look for a 0% promotional rate and try to pay off the balance before the interest rate rises again.

Tamara E. Holmes

Tamara E. Holmes is a Washington, DC-based writer who covers personal finance, entrepreneurship and careers.

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