Anyone who is recently married can tell you the cost of a wedding — even a small ceremony — is gargantuan.
By the time you add up the cost of the attire, food, cake, venue, photographer, wedding officiant, decorations, favors, musicians and so on, you may have spent the value of a car.
In fact, TheKnot.com found the average wedding cost in 2013 was nearly $30,000.
Many young couples find themselves unable to afford a wedding, but they are unwilling to give up their dream. This means their life together will start in the red.
Read on to learn how to pay off this debt.
1. Avoid wedding debt at all costs
If you happen to be reading this before embarking on the planning process, do your best to avoid going into debt to have a wedding. While you will enjoy the wedding night itself, you will be kicking yourself for years to come.
You may need to have a smaller wedding than you want, or maybe you can save money by booking the venue on a Friday night instead of a Saturday. You may need to have appetizers only rather than a sit-down meal.
You can also consider asking for family to help. If any family members ask what you would like as a wedding gift, consider asking for them to help with the wedding itself.
You may find they are happier to help pay for the cake than buy a frivolous kitchen appliance you will never use.
Are you considering the worst-case scenario? You can always have a romantic elopement with your closest family and friends present and have a casual celebration later with people who were not able to attend.
2. Prioritize your payments
Once you have tied the knot and are back to the real world, sit down together and write down all of the wedding debt you owe.
Did you put it all on credit cards? If so, determine the minimum monthly payments and make sure you can pay off more than that amount each month.
Do you owe separate amounts to a long list of vendors? Itemize your debts by when they are due and if there is any interest accumulating.
Assess which wedding debts are of the highest priority and attack those first.
If your debts are truly out of control, contact a debt relief firm to get some help.
3. Temporarily tighten your belt
While you are trying to pay down your wedding debt, it is time to live frugally so you can put any extra income toward what you owe.
This time period will not be fun, after all you just want to be carefree newlyweds in bliss. However, the faster you can pay off your bills, the sooner you will be able to live the life you imagined.
Rather than going to the movies, rent a Redbox. Rather than going out for dinner, make use of your new gifts and cook a candlelit dinner together at home.
Any time you are feeling tired of making sacrifices, stop and remember your beautiful wedding and remind yourself why it was worth it. Then regroup and continue until your debts are repaid.
4. Be proactive if you can’t pay your debts
Have you found that you can’t meet your bill due dates? You do not want to begin your life together with debt collectors blowing up your phone.
Instead, take a proactive approach and contact the creditors and vendors you owe. Let them know you are behind on your payments and ask if they will be working with you on creating a payment plan you can meet.
Just remember most wedding vendors are individuals or small companies, not large corporations. While they may be open to working with you, take care to make sure they do get paid.
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