Personal savings are the primary wedding fund source for engaged couples today, but it’s not the only one. Weddings & Money 2021: A Brides & Investopedia Study, a new online survey of 1,000 U.S. adults planning a wedding, found it may take a village of people and payment methods to plan and pay for a wedding in 2022 and beyond.
On average, couples are budgeting about $20,000 for their wedding, but there are many ways consumers plan on covering that bill. Most will dip into savings, but nearly 1 in 5 will also use loans or sell investments to help cover wedding expenses over the next two years. Some have even saved their stimulus checks to help cover costs.
- The average U.S. wedding budget is $20,000
- About half ($7,250) of that budget will be paid for with savings, and the rest financed, borrowed, or funded by financial products
- 1 in 5 U.S. couples will use loans or investments to help pay for their wedding
- 41% plan to use credit cards, charging $8,000 of wedding costs, on average
- Families, particularly parents, are helping fund many weddings, but that usually means they’re also involved in the planning process
COVID-19 Changed Wedding Plans, Increased Costs
Nearly 1 in 5 couples (23%) have dialed back their wedding budget in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Wedding & Money 2021 study. Such couples said smaller and simpler weddings are leading to cost reductions.
On the other end of the spectrum, 16% of couples actually plan to spend more because of COVID-19, citing increased costs and the addition of more event features.
“The wedding industry seems newly reenergized, and I’m sure that some of the pandemic-necessary changes like more intimate gatherings and new, non-traditional elements are here to stay,” said Leah Wyar, Brides’ senior vice president and general manager, in a press release.
Many expenditures factor into the final cost of a wedding, but our study found the top expenses for couples these days are jewelry, wedding venue, and food. To learn more, see "By the Numbers: What Weddings in America Cost Today."
Financing Options, Investments Also Used to Cover Expenses
The Wedding & Money 2021 survey found couples will pool funds from a number of places to pay for their upcoming wedding. Savings consistently account for about half the median budget ($7,250, on average), but the rest may be financed or paid for with windfalls such as tax refunds, investment sales, or even stimulus checks.
"Couples planning weddings have become much more creative and resourceful when it comes to footing the bill," said Caleb Silver, editor-in-chief of Investopedia, in a press release. "The use of profits from selling investments and more reliance on low interest credit cards demonstrate a more sophisticated approach to paying for or financing a wedding than we have seen in years past."
The study found funding approaches vary slightly depending on where a couple lives. Those in the Western U.S. were most likely to say they’d sell investments, use credit cards, or take out a loan. Midwestern couples were most likely to say they’d use stimulus checks to help pay for their wedding, and those in the Northeast were most likely to use savings.
Overall, after savings, credit cards are the most popular source of wedding funds, according to the Brides and Investopedia study. In fact, 41% of those planning a wedding plan on using credit cards to help finance the expenses and give them more time to pay off the expenses.
Those using credit cards to cover wedding costs will charge about $8,000, and most said they won’t pay off the bills immediately. Most couples leaning on cards will pay off the charges within a year, but some (17%) plan to take a year or more to pay down the wedding costs, which is noteworthy given 67% of couples currently planning a wedding are also carrying debt—including credit card balances.
Credit cards that offer 0% purchase APRs for a limited time can be a low cost way to stretch the wedding budget for a short time, but most promotional offers advertised online to new cardholders these days only last for 12 months. Couples considering this option should closely read offer terms and repay the debt before the deal ends and interest quickly compounds.
Many Couples Planning a Wedding Get Extra Help From Family
In addition to what couples are paying themselves, wedding expense funds also often come from family members on either side of the aisle. Parents are overwhelmingly the most common contributor, according to 68% of respondents, but other familial sources include siblings, grandparents, and even aunts and uncles.
However, with investment comes involvement. Half (55%) of survey respondents told Brides and Investopedia that families—both theirs and their partners’—are at least somewhat involved in the wedding-planning process.
The Weddings & Money 2021: A Brides & Investopedia Study was fielded online to 1,000 U.S. adults between July 30 and September 14, 2021. Respondents are planning a wedding, have an event date within the next 24 months, and are involved in the wedding-planning process. Quotas were used to ensure the survey sample represents the U.S. Census estimates for gender, race/ethnicity, and region.