How to save money on a wedding in 2020

Many people make big sacrifices for the perfect wedding, but you don't have to.

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The average cost of a wedding in 2019 was $33,900 (USD) according to The Knot — which is why most couples end up making huge sacrifices for their big day. By planning ahead and knowing how to save money on a wedding, you can avoid ending up in the same situation. Getting started early could also help you save on costs and lay a financial foundation that will remain after the wedding.

8 ways to save money on a wedding

Starting a marriage with thousands of dollars in wedding debt is never ideal. Here are 8 ways you can reduce or avoid this:

1. Get the big picture on your finances

Before you do anything, take a good look at your financial situation. Take note of your savings and any other assets you want to put toward your wedding. Then, add up your sources of income. You need to know what you’re working with.

2. Determine what’s important

Figure out what you want out of your wedding. Think about how many guests you want to invite, what food you want to serve, what to do for entertainment, what you and your guests will be wearing and whatever else is important to you and your future spouse. Then, shop around and compare options for every purchase, so you know what to expect.

3. Estimate costs and break down expenses

Once you’ve figured out what you want your wedding to include, create a list of all of your expected expenses. Keep track of the cost of each expense so that you can keep a running tally of your grand total.

4. Create a budget

After you’ve estimated prices for everything, think about how you’ll pay for each of your expenses. Create a spreadsheet to map out all costs and where your money will go.

If you don’t know where to start, try out the zero-based budgeting method. It requires you to put every dollar of your income toward a specific expense or savings goal until there’s nothing left over.

To use this method, start by adding up your mandatory monthly expenses. Then subtract the total from your monthly income. From there, take the leftover money and put it toward fun expenses, savings or into a general wedding fund. If you need help with the basics, check out our guide on budgeting for beginners here.

Check out our list of budgeting apps that can help you budget from your phone

5. Set goals with timelines

Once you’ve broken down all of your expenses and made a budget, create a timeline with goals to pay each of them off. This can help you break up the cost of your wedding by spreading out your expenses over time rather than paying for everything at once.

Stay on top of your finances with monthly reviews. If your income shifts or your expenses change, you may need to adjust your spending to ensure you reach your goals on time.

6. Set up a registry

Your loved ones will want to celebrate by contributing to your new life together. Use your registry to offset the costs of items you know you’ll purchase after the wedding or look for a cash registry to fund wedding costs directly.

7. Cut back where you can

There are a handful of ways you can put aside more money for your wedding. Try to limit eating out, vacations and buying new toys to trim down on current expenses. Or, lower your wedding costs by spending less on certain unnecessary “luxuries.”

8. Start saving

Start setting money aside in your savings account or consider setting up multiple accounts to organize your savings goals. If you don’t already have one, a joint savings account dedicated to wedding expenses can help you and your partner save and earn interest together while keeping you from going over budget and dipping into long-term savings. Take advantage of features like autosave or roundups to make regular contributions toward your savings.

Compare apps that can help you save by rewarding you for your spending

Name Product Reward Fees Participating Brands Min. to Cash Out
Ampli
1-10% cash back, or a set $ amount
$0
50+
$15
Link your debit and credit cards to the Ampli app and earn cash back at 50+ big retailers across Canada. Enter promo code AMPLI5 to receive a $5.00 cash back bonus on signup.
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Compare up to 4 providers

How much should I save for a wedding?

Average wedding costs

Based on a wedding with 100 guests, here’s how much you can expect to spend on the core expenses (in USD):

Venue $10,500
Food $7,000
Alcohol $3,000
Photography $2,400
Flowers and decorations $2,000
Wedding planner $1,500
Ceremony venue and officiant $2,700
Clothing, makeup, hairstylist and accessories $2,110
DJ or entertainment $1,200
Favors and invitations $990
Cake and cutting $500
Total $33,900

Data from theknot.com based on 2019 survey

Keep in mind that these numbers are only an average. Your costs could vary greatly depending on your number of guests, date of the wedding, choice of entertainment, food and more.

Other wedding-related expenses

Costs beyond those for your big day can affect your budget, including:

Engagement rings $5,900
Transportation $800
Bachelor and bachelorette parties $350 to $850 a day
Alterations $150 to $750
Invitations, cards and postage $590
Rehearsal dinners $1,900
Wedding coordinator $1,500
Hotels and other accommodations $250 to $2,000

Data from theknot.com based on 2019 survey

How to find an account that can help you save for your big day

Once you start looking for savings accounts, you’ll want to compare your options to find the best one for your situation. Consider factors like:

  • Fees. Find out how you’ll be charged to keep the account open and if there are any ways to waive the fee. Also look out for service charges for transfers, overdraft protection and more.
  • Access. Find out how you can withdraw and deposit money with the account. Compare branch, phone and ATM access along with online and mobile banking capabilities.
  • Interest rates. The higher your interest rate, the more money you’ll earn toward your savings goals. Look for the best rate you can find, but remember that other factors also matter.
  • Account features. Look out for account features that could help you reach your goal. Things like autosave, budgeting tools, round up applications and other similar features are all great to have.
  • Bonuses and rewards. If possible, try to find accounts that offer opening bonuses or rewards programs, as they could give you a head start on saving and provide an incentive to keep going.
  • Eligibility requirements. Keep an eye out for eligibility requirements that could limit you from opening an account or getting a signup bonus.
  • Initial deposit requirements. Find an account with an initial deposit requirement that meets your financial situation.

Compare accounts to help you save money on a wedding

Name Product Interest Rate Promotional Interest Rate Min. Bal / Min. Deposit Account Fee
EQ Bank Savings Plus Account
1.50%
N/A
$0 / $0
$0
Enjoy zero everyday banking fees, free transactions and no minimum balance with a Savings Plus Account from EQ Bank.
Tangerine Savings Account
0.10%
2.15%
$0 / $0
$0
Earn 2.15% interest for 5 months (up to a maximum of $1,000,000) as a new Tangerine client when you open your first savings or chequing account and use the promo code EARNMORE. Plus, get up to a $200 bonus when payroll requirements are met. Apply by November 23, 2020.
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Other ways to pay for a wedding

Not everyone has $35,000 in cash lying around, which is why many people turn to credit cards to cover expenses. While this approach could help you earn travel miles or other rewards, paying 20%+ APR can set you back in the long run. If you aren’t able to save up for all or most of your wedding expenses, consider these last resort options:

Wedding loan

Some lenders offer personal loans that are specifically designed for weddings. You could end up saving more money than if you were to use a credit card, depending on the APR of your loan.

Cash registry

Instead of asking for appliances and other gifts for your wedding, consider using a cash registry website to offset some of the costs.

Line of credit

Personal lines of credit can have APRs as low as 5%, much lower than most credit cards.

Bottom line

With an average cost of nearly $34,000, weddings are one of the biggest expenses out there. Instead of making sacrifices or going into credit card debt to get your dream wedding, start saving early and explore other tips to cut costs along the way. Once you’re ready to start saving, compare your options to find a savings account that can help you reach your goals.

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