The Factsheet: Wedding Loans Vs. Avoiding Wedding Debt

January 31, 2022 | riley

Image by Audre Rae Photography. See more of this real wedding here

Although the average cost of a wedding has dropped down to $22,500 thanks to the pandemic (from $28,000 in 2019), there’s no denying that weddings are expensive. If you just got engaged and you’re trying to figure out how to pay for your special day, don’t stress just yet. While we recommend saving before your wedding as much as possible, we know that this isn’t always an option. 

Financing your wedding is a possibility but before you dive into the world of wedding loans, there are a few things that you should know. That’s why we’re breaking down how wedding loans work, the pros and cons, how to go about getting one, and alternatives for couples who aren’t looking to go into debt.

How Do Wedding Loans Work?

First things first, it’s important to know that technically wedding loans don’t exist. What we’re referring to when we talk about wedding loans is a personal loan that you then use for your wedding. This is the most common type of loan taken out and can range from $1,000 to $100,000. It’s a big range. Once the money has been deposited into your accounts, the lender doesn’t actually care how you choose to use it, whether it’s for your venue, your honeymoon, or your reception.

The other less common type of loan to consider is a home equity line of credit (HELOC). If you own a home, you can use it as collateral and then borrow what you need. How does this work exactly? Let’s say your home is worth $200,000, and you still owe $100,000 on your mortgage. You then have $100,000 in equity. Typically lenders will give you up to 85% of the equity–so in this case, you’d get up to $85,000. Though this is not as popular as a personal loan, it is something to think about when weighing financing options.

Image by Wonderstruck Media. See more of this real wedding here

Pros and Cons To Wedding Loans

Now that you know the basics between the two different types of loans you can take out, it’s time to talk about the pros and cons. These will help you determine whether or not a loan makes sense for your financial situation.

Pros of Wedding Loans

  • Convenience – Some vendors require a deposit to secure your wedding date. Deposits for a venue, a caterer, photographer, planner, and florist can add up very quickly. If you don’t have a lot of money readily available, a loan can help with these deposits
  • Easy to get – In most cases, applying and getting accepted for a loan only takes a few minutes as long as you have your financial documents in order
  • Get money fast – Once you’re approved, the funds are usually deposited into your account within a couple of days. There are even some lenders that will get it to you within 24 hours 
  • Lower interest rates – While there’s nothing wrong with using your credit card for some wedding purchases, loans usually have lower interest rates. We’re talking as low as 5% versus 14% to 22% for credit cards. This is especially true if you have good credit 
  • Improve credit score – If you know that you can pay back the loan in a timely manner, taking out a loan is a great way to boost your credit score. Once you prove that you can manage your money and take on a loan, you increase your chances of getting another loan down the line with even better interest rates

Cons of Wedding Loans

  • You’re charged interest – Interest is nearly impossible to avoid when dealing with any kind of debt, especially loans. While you may only take out a loan for $5,000, you’re going to end up paying $6,000-$7,000 after interest. This is also why paying it off sooner rather than later is so important
  • Loans are extra debt – For many couples, the idea of starting a marriage in debt is enough to avoid taking out a loan. Ask yourself if you’re willing to deal with and can financially handle a monthly payment for several years
  • Makes it difficult to apply for other loans – If you can pay off your loan quickly, this isn’t a huge con. However, if you take years to pay off a loan and you want to apply for another loan to purchase a home or car, lenders may give you a lot less than you want or even deny you the loan altogether
  • Temptation to spend more – The minute that money hits your account, it may feel like you have all the money in the world to spend. This mindset can cause you to overspend or blow the wedding budget you worked so hard on 

Image by Lara Onac Photography. See more of this real wedding here

How To Get A Loan

If after discussing the pros and cons of a wedding loan with your significant other, you decide that taking out a loan is worth it to you, it’s time to apply. We’re breaking down the step-by-step process you’ll go through so you know what to expect.

  1. Check credit score – The first thing to do before applying for a loan is check your credit score, which you can do for free using services like Credit Karma. Doing this will help you estimate how much you’ll be eligible to receive. It’ll also help you know what to expect in terms of interest rates
  2. Get prequalified – Most lenders will let you see if you’re eligible for a loan through prequalification. All you have to do is provide some basic financial information. This is important so that you can see if it’s worth applying without a hard inquiry against your credit. Many lenders refer to this step as a soft inquiry
  3. Compare lenders – When comparing lenders, look at interest rates, fees (things like late fees, early payoff fees, or insufficient funds fees), and the loan term which just means the length of time you’re expected to make payments on the loan
  4. Complete application – Once you’ve found the lender that you feel is the best fit for you, it’s time to complete an application. They’ll check your credit, ask for official financial documentation, and may ask a few questions before determining whether or not you’re approved. Once approved, the money will most likely be direct deposited into the bank account you gave them during the application

Image by Heather K Purdy. See more of this real wedding here

Alternatives To Wedding Loans

If you’re still unsure if a loan is right for you or if you’ve decided that you’d like to avoid taking out a loan, there are other options. 

Using Credit Cards

A credit card is by far the most common alternative to wedding loans. While interest rates are typically higher, many cards on the market have 0% APR for the first year. And while it may take you longer than a year to pay it off, that’s still one year that you can make payments without adding interest. 

That being said, credit card debt is a slippery slope. If this is the route you take, ensure that you have a firm wedding budget in place and only use the credit card for things you can afford. Constantly swiping the card with no plan to pay it off can put you in the same debt that a loan would.

The last thing to consider with credit cards are the rewards. If you’re applying for a new credit card for your wedding, consider applying for one that has a reward system in place. This way you can earn points, cash, or even travel rewards on your purchases. 

Help From Family

There’s absolutely no shame in asking your family for help pay for your wedding. However, when it’s time to ask for help it’s important to do so in a polite and respectful manner. If you approach the subject out of curiosity rather than expectation, they’ll be more understanding of where you’re coming from. You should also be prepared for them not to contribute anything.

Extend The Engagement

We know how tempting it is to get married right away when you’ve found the love of your life. But taking on debt may be a burden that you don’t want to deal with as newlyweds. If financial stability is something you hold in high regard, consider planning the wedding for a few years out. This gives you time to save so you can afford your dream venue or the destination wedding you’ve been planning since you were a kid.

Now that you’re a wedding loan pro, it’s time to map out your wedding budget. We’ve put together a free budget tool that helps you track everything you need for your special day so you stay on track and organized!

Image by Luxart Wedding Studio. See more of this real wedding here

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