How To Pay For A Wedding In Cash: 7 Effective Tips

By Zach Buchenau

Last Updated: September 27, 2021

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If you’re on a tight budget, worrying about how to pay for a wedding can steal the joy of planning your big day.

It’s no secret that weddings tend to be expensive! But that doesn’t mean you have to spend tons of money to have an incredible wedding day.

Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to keep your wedding costs down.

In this article, we’ll break down seven strategies to help you stay on budget and avoid debt.

These tips will help eliminate the financial stress that accompanies wedding planning so you can actually enjoy this season of life.

1. Keep It Small And Local

The size of your guest list is often responsible for inflating the cost of your wedding.

The more people you invite, the more venue space, food, drinks, accommodations, and party favors you’ll need to pay for.

While it can be difficult to trim down your guest list, doing so can end up saving you a fortune.

Many couples worry about offending people by not inviting them to their wedding, but most guests will understand the need to cut costs.

Consider eliminating friends and family members from your list who you haven’t spoken to in a long time. Or, if you want to keep your wedding extra lean, limit the event to a shortlist of family members.

Intimate ceremonies often end up being the most special, memorable occasions.

Additionally, when you’re planning your wedding, aim for a local venue. This way, most of your invitees and vendors are likely to already be in the area.

By cutting down on travel expenses for yourself and your wedding party, you can end up saving lots of money.

Don’t just think local for the venue – be sure to search for local vendors as well! You’ll save even more money on travel expenses if you can find photographers, caterers, hairstylists, and makeup artists who live near you.

And, in case the idea of a small, local wedding bums you out, remember that your day is what you make it.

You don’t have to have an extravagant destination wedding to make it the best day of your life.

How to pay for a wedding in cash | Be The Budget

2. Opt For A Longer Engagement

If you’re wondering how to afford a wedding, it could be the case that you need more time to save up for it. So, if you don’t currently have enough money to pay for a wedding, it may be a good idea to delay your nuptials until you do.

While it’s almost always a bad idea to go into debt, it’s an especially bad idea to take on debt to pay for your wedding.

Think about it – you want memories of your big day to be nothing but positive. If you spend money you don’t have on your wedding, those memories will be polluted.

Instead of enjoying your newlywed days with your new spouse, you’ll immediately have to start working toward paying off your debt.

By extending your engagement and planning a wedding far in advance, you’ll give yourself more time to save the money you need.

This will help take the pressure off you and your future spouse, making your engagement and wedding day more enjoyable.

If you’re eager to get married and really don’t want to wait, you might consider having a private ceremony and saving money for a larger wedding celebration. That way, you’ll be able to start enjoying your marriage while you’re figuring out how to pay for a wedding.

While a longer engagement is a short-term sacrifice, it could end up affording you the time you need to prepare for the wedding of your dreams.

Just be sure to use your time wisely and create a plan for how you’re going to reach your financial goal.

Want to get better at saving and budgeting your money as a couple? We think you’ll love these other posts:

3. Start Saving Immediately

There’s a Chinese proverb that says, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second-best time is now.”

If you haven’t been in the habit of saving money, but you’re looking forward to getting married, now is the time to start saving!

Even if you’re not yet 100 percent sure you’ll get married or if you haven’t met the person you want to marry, you can never be too financially prepared.

The sooner you start saving for your wedding, the more likely you’ll be able to afford it. You never know when you’re going to meet the person you want to spend the rest of your life with.

And when you do, you’ll want the peace of mind that comes with knowing you can pay for a wedding.

So, if you don’t yet have a wedding fund, but you’d like to be married one day, create one and start contributing to it monthly. Even if you can only set aside a little money every month, it will add up over time. It’s better to have some money set aside than none at all–even if it’s a small amount.

How much should you save for a wedding?

According to Business Insider, the average cost of a wedding in the United States in 2019 was $28,000. By implementing the rest of our tips, you can spend far less than this average.

However, it’s much easier to budget for something if you have an idea about how much it’s going to cost. Do some extra research about wedding costs in your area to inform your savings goal.

4. Tighten Your Budget

As with any savings goal, your budget is your best friend if you’re planning a wedding.

A budget takes all of your financial hopes and dreams and turns them into a real, actionable plan.

If you’re worried about how to pay for a wedding, take a look at your budget and look for opportunities to cut costs.

First, review your fixed expenses.

Are there any areas in which you can reduce your monthly bills?

Be sure you’re getting the best deals you can on your utilities, phone bill, insurance, and rent or mortgage.

Then, look through your variable expenses to see where you can cut back.

Assess whether each item in your budget is truly adding value to your life.

While it may feel like a sacrifice, keep the goal of paying for your wedding top of mind. If it’s important enough to you, you’ll create space in your budget to save for it.

Here are a few other ways to tighten up your budget:

  • Prepare your meals at home instead of eating at restaurants.
  • Cut back on transportation costs by carpooling, biking, or using public transport.
  • Plan for a little fun and entertainment each month to help you stick to your budget.
  • Shop at secondhand stores for clothes.
  • Focus your spending on your needs rather than your wants.

Each small budgeting habit you adopt will end up making a huge difference in the long run. With some focused effort and a bit of discipline, you’ll be on your way to affording the wedding you’ve always wanted.

5. Start A Side Hustle

Another way to help you afford a wedding is to increase your income. If you’re working a traditional nine-to-five job, you may think that’s easier said than done.

But these days, there are plenty of creative ways to earn money outside of your day job.

To earn extra cash on the side, you could start your own business or get a part-time job.

If you want to pay cash for your wedding, every bit of extra income you earn counts.

Starting your own business isn’t nearly as difficult as it used to be. Thanks to the internet, you can learn anything you want to learn in no time. So, if you have a talent, skill, or hobby you’re interested in monetizing, now is the perfect time to start.

There are countless different types of side hustles you could start. Here are just a few examples:

  • Start a freelance writing business.
  • Sell handmade items on Etsy.
  • Flip and resell old furniture.
  • Start a blog or YouTube channel.
  • Sell your skills as services – from cleaning pools to digital marketing, the possibilities are endless.

After you’ve settled on a side hustle idea, commit to it and do everything you can to make it successful.

You’ve already got a compelling reason driving you to succeed – the ability to pay for a wedding.

Now, all you need is to follow through and take action.

6. Avoid Professional Services

Beyond the venue, much of your wedding budget typically goes to professional services and vendors. But these services aren’t always completely necessary.

Especially if you’re on a budget, think twice before hiring a photographer, videographer, DJ, or makeup artist. Instead, ask one of your friends to take photos and/or videos. Rent some speakers and create your own wedding playlist. Do your own makeup or ask a friend to do it for you.

If you can cut back on a few or all traditional wedding vendors, you’ll save thousands of dollars.

And although some of these services may seem like necessities, there are ways to DIY most of them.

Think about which aspects of your wedding day are particularly important to you and your future spouse. Then, only keep those essential services in your wedding budget.

If a friend or family member can do the job, ask him or her to help you out in place of a wedding gift.

Or, DIY certain parts of your wedding such as the flowers, decorations, party favors, hair, and makeup.

You can still have an incredibly special day without all the traditional bells and whistles.

By taking the time to think about what you ultimately want the day to be like, you’ll be able to plan a wedding that’s affordable but still checks all the boxes.

7. Create A Wedding/Honeymoon Fund On Your Registry

If you’re still not sure how to pay for a wedding after implementing these tips, ask your wedding guests to contribute! I realize that sounds a little less than classy but hear me out.

Some online registry services allow your guests to donate to a wedding or honeymoon fund rather than buying you a gift.

These days, it’s extremely common to provide this option for your wedding guests. People can even contribute to specific features of your wedding or honeymoon.

For example, you can register for a couple’s massage or contributions to pay the caterer.

By allowing your guests the opportunity to help with your wedding expenses, you’ll be asking for what you really want and need.

Instead of receiving nine toasters, you’ll be relieved from the burden of paying for everything that goes into planning a wedding.

Even if you do implement this tip, be careful not to spend more money than you have. Since many guests may not contribute to your wedding fund until closer to your wedding day, you should never count your chickens before they hatch.

Instead, monitor the amount of money your guests have contributed and plan accordingly. This will help you avoid any kind of debt or going over budget for your wedding.

Final Thoughts

Your wedding may be one of the most expensive things you ever have to pay for. But, with some careful planning, saving, and budgeting, you won’t have to worry about how to afford a wedding.

Just as with most financial goals, saving enough to get married requires patience and discipline. Remember that success doesn’t happen overnight. But with consistent effort over the long haul, you’ll be much more likely to be able to pay for your dream wedding.

And finally, be mindful of the fact that you don’t have to host an extravagant wedding to have a blissfully happy marriage. No matter how much you spend, your wedding day will be what you make of it.

With the help of these tips, you’re sure to have a memorable day that doesn’t break the bank!

Zach Buchenau

About The Author:

Zach Buchenau is a self-proclaimed personal finance nerd. When he isn't writing about budgeting, getting out of debt, making extra money, and living a frugal life, you can find him building furniture, fly fishing, or developing websites. He is the co-founder of BeTheBudget, and Chipotle's most loyal customer.

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