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Ditch getting hitched to debt

Sally and Bobby met in college. They fell madly in love and can’t wait to become legally yoked to each other for all eternity. Like most millennials, Sally and Bobby also each carry the average student loan debt of over $30,000. The two lovebirds will enter marriage with more than $60,000 in debt, no longer uncommon for 20- to 35-year-olds.

Perhaps one might think, heck, it’s already $60,000 of debt, what’s a little more for the perfect wedding?

Sally and Bobby need to get over their #YOLO and #FOMO and recognize that going into debt for a wedding just isn’t worth the financial ramifications and stress for a newly married couple.

A few simple tricks can ensure any couple can create an Instagram-worthy wedding that will be remembered for ages without busting their budget.

Pull a fast one on the engagement ring

Oh, the engagement ring. Advertisements would have you believe it’s all about romance when a man declares his intent by presenting a magnificent diamond worth at least three months of salary, of course.

Put that salary to better use; do not go into debt in order to buy an engagement ring. No personal loan. No minimum payments on credit cards. If the ring cannot be purchased outright, then it isn’t the right one.

Here are a few tips to make engagement ring shopping more affordable:

  • Buy off-season: The holidays are prime proposal season, so avoid purchasing your ring too close to November through January. Instead, look to purchase during the peak of wedding season—June through August. It’s when the weddings are happening, not the proposals, so prices are a little more flexible as shops look to move inventory.
  • Go for 0.99 carat: Buying a ring that’s not quite in the next round of mark up will help you pocket some money. Instead of going the full carat, purchase just shy of the ideal size for you and your betrothed.
  • Consider buying secondhand through estate sales: Who says the engagement ring needs to be brand new? Consider shopping secondhand and estate sales to get a good deal.
  • Don’t buy a diamond: Imitation stones or other gems are typically a much better price point. Honestly, most people can’t tell the difference between a white crystal and a diamond anyway.
  • Just get one ring: Why is there a need to get a diamond ring and then a matching diamond band for the wedding ring? Ditch the second cost and just use one ring! Take it off before the ceremony and then put it back on when you exchange rings.

Pay for what you truly value

Average wedding costs are tipping into the $30,000 or more range. This one special day of your life could pay for the down payment on a home or dozens of vacations or buy a car (or two) … you get the picture.

Those looking to not only opt out of the high price tag for a wedding, but also pay for one without incurring any debt, should write a list prioritizing what they really value as a couple.

Are you two foodies? Then pay a little more for the meal and skimp on another aspect (like flowers).

Do you see your wedding as just an awesome dance party? Then fork over the money for a top-notch DJ or wedding band and penny pinch on things like invitations.

Tap into available talents

Bartering is one of the best ways to get a deal on your wedding, and it doesn’t just have to mean strong negotiating tactics with vendors. Consider trading your talents with co-workers, friends or acquaintances. Perhaps you are a whiz in graphic design and can whip up a killer logo and rebrand a website and your friend is a professional photographer. Swap talents to help each other out. Or ask some of your guests to donate their services and skills in lieu of gifts.

Start your married life off without the stress of paying down (as much) debt

Yes, a majority of millennials will either marry with debt or marry into debt, simply based on over half the generation handling student loans. There is no point in loading on consumer debt to top off the frustrations. Why begin a life together rife with stress about finances and realize you probably need second or third jobs to pay down the outstanding bills for chocolate fountains and a $6,000 dress? Save yourself and (possibly) your marriage by paying for a wedding outright.