How to Pay off a Wedding During Your First Year of Marriage

Three stacks of coins with small colored hearts on top of them to signify paying off wedding debt during marriage.

Are you concerned about the cost of your upcoming wedding and how you will be able to pay for it? According to the Business Insider, the average cost of a wedding in the United States is $33,391. This amount can vary drastically, however, depending on your location. On the one hand, couples in New York spend an average of $76,944 on a wedding. The average amount spent on a wedding in New Mexico, on the other hand, is only $17,584. It’s also important to keep in mind that these amounts do not include what you will pay for an engagement ring and honeymoon.

No matter where you live, getting married is an expensive venture, so it’s no wonder many couples struggle financially afterward. While paying for some of the event using credit cards may seem like an intelligent way to “make it work” right now, the amount you will ultimately owe in interest should dissuade this line of thinking. The hit to your credit score if you are unable to make regular payments can also have long-term consequences.

The best course of action is to rid yourself of wedding debt as quickly as possible. But how exactly do you accomplish this? Here are several great tips that will help you pay off your wedding during your first year of marriage.

Pay off the Smallest Balance First

A young woman sitting at a desk with a laptop and calculator as she's working on her wedding budget and paying down bills.

When you have numerous wedding bills taking up room on your kitchen table, it can be difficult to know which ones to tackle first. There is not enough money to pay off everything at once and trying to juggle it all will only cause you more stress. Instead, start small.

Organize your bills by the lowest to the highest amounts due. Then, write down the minimum payment for each. It’s important that you pay the minimums on time each month, but all extra money should go towards paying off your lowest balance. Once it’s paid off, you will be able to apply that amount to the next lowest bill. You are essentially snowballing your debt, which is the fastest way to pay off your wedding expenses.

Transfer Debt to Another Card

If you did choose to use a credit card to pay for a large portion of your wedding, the interest can become extremely problematic. Take time to find out what your annual percentage rate (APR) is, as well as your interest rate. In most cases, these numbers are quite high. This means you may be paying more than you should for fees each month.

A short-term solution for this is to transfer your credit card balance to another card. Many credit cards offer promotions for transferred balances. In many cases, the company will offer a low percent APR for a certain amount of time. Obviously, the best offers are 0% APR, which can frequently be locked in for up to 18 months. Opting for this solution can help you avoid accruing lots of interest on your card, but you will want to pay the balance down as much as possible during the first year. If you do not take advantage of the reprieve now, you will be in an even worse financial position down the road.

Set a Monthly Payment Amount (and Stick to It!)

A newlywed man and woman hugging in their apartment.

When you set the budget for your wedding, you should go ahead and establish a payment plan. This actually presents a great opportunity for you and your future spouse to discuss money openly before joining your finances. Both of you should realistically assess your incomes and then determine an amount you can each contribute to paying off the debt. It does not have to be equal, but it does need to be significant. It also needs to be an amount you can consistently put towards paying your wedding bills.

Doing this means that you both may need to cut some items out of your monthly budgets. You will have to decide whether that means skipping the expensive Starbucks coffees every morning, packing lunches for work, or staying in on the weekends. Living frugally for a year may not be optimal, but it is definitely worth the effort. In the end, the relief of having these bills paid off will be a huge load off of your financial situation and your minds.

Consider Debt Consolidation

If you have a number of outstanding wedding bills with high interest rates, it may be worth considering debt consolidation. Essentially, you borrow enough money from a lender to pay off all of the bills at once. You then pay a single monthly payment to the company you borrowed money from. This can be extremely beneficial if you can lock in a low APR rate. Not only will you avoid bill juggling and possible missed payments, but you will avoid paying too much in fees.

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