Article Summary

  • The average cost of a wedding in the U.S. is $33,000, but factors such as location, time of year, and guest list can make the cost vary.
  • Creating a workable wedding budget is one of the most important first steps to take as a couple.
  • Interest-paying savings accounts may help you reach your wedding savings goals quickly.
  • Personal loans that can be paid back over time may put your dream wedding within reach.

If you plan to tie the knot, prepare to spend some serious money. In recent years, inflation has driven costs for practically everything higher, and weddings are no exception.

The average wedding in the U.S. in 2024 costs $33,000. That's a significant increase from 2023 when the average wedding cost $29,000. In addition, where you live may play a factor, too. The most expensive state for weddings is Rhode Island, where the average cost for the big event is $49,207. By comparison, Alaska weddings, on average, cost only $14,444.[1]

With nuptials costing roughly the same as a used car — and a nice one at that — you may wonder how best to save for a wedding. In this guide, we'll offer some ideas to help you determine the most efficient way to save for the big day, as well as some tips for making the most of your budget.

By preparing early and being realistic, you may still enjoy the wedding of your dreams without breaking the bank.

How To Save for a Wedding

The sooner you can start saving money for a wedding, the better. That doesn't necessarily mean you must start stashing away large amounts of cash after the first date with a new love interest. However, if getting married — and celebrating with an elaborate ceremony and reception — is a major life goal, you may want to consider starting a wedding fund before getting engaged or even meeting a partner who's marriage material.

If you have a change of mind (or heart), you could always use the money in the fund for another big expense, such as a new car, a home down payment, or a dream vacation.

In reality, many couples don't start considering wedding plans and costs until after they're engaged. However, once you know that marriage is in your future, here are some ideas for starting to save.

Get On the Same Page as a Couple

As a couple, you must decide what kind of wedding you want to plan for. Do you want a big wedding with all the trimmings, including a ceremony, cocktail hour, reception with dinner and dancing, and elaborate formal gowns and tuxedos, followed by a honeymoon in an exotic locale? Or is a beach or Las Vegas destination wedding with a few friends more your style? Many couples are perfectly happy with a simple courtroom elopement, too.

Planning a wedding can prove a major test for many couples. If you disagree about what kind of wedding to have, it can strain your relationship. So, it always pays to be on the same page from the start.

Create a Practical Wedding Budget

Once you decide what kind of wedding to have, it's time to start figuring out the budget. Sit down together and create a vision for the wedding and how much you're willing to spend. Your list should include items such as:

  • A wedding gown. 
  • Flowers. 
  • Ring. 
  • Ceremony and reception venues. 
  • Decorations. 
  • Food and drinks. 
  • DJ or band. 
  • A photographer. 
  • Wedding favors.

Also, consider the size of your guest list. After all the chief driving factor in wedding costs is how many people will be in attendance. In addition, the day, time, and even month that the wedding is held may greatly affect your wedding costs. For example, a wedding venue is likely to charge more for a Saturday event in June — peak season for nuptials — than for a Friday evening soiree in November.

Once you have a good idea of the wedding wants and needs, price out how much each item will cost. While you do this, prioritizing items on your wedding wish list may be a good idea. For example, if having your reception in a specific location is the most important aspect of the big day, lower-priority items may need to be adjusted or eliminated to make your budget work.

It's also important to consider inflation. Because many weddings are planned 12 to 18 months in advance, the odds are that some of the costs will go up before the big day. It may be helpful to factor in inflation of at least 5% in your costs. This also makes it wise to book venues and caterers early to lock in this year's prices.

Create Realistic Wedding Savings Goals

Once you have a good idea of the wedding budget, decide how much to save every month. For example, if you plan to tie the knot in 12 months and know you need to save $15,000, the math will look like this:

15,000 / 12 = 1,250

Every month, you should be saving $1,250 to reach the goal.

Of course, if family members want to help finance the wedding, factor this in as well.

After determining how much you should save per month, be honest if this savings goal is realistic. If there's any doubt that you can meet this monthly goal like clockwork, consider tweaking plans so that either the wedding costs less or that the wedding is delayed long enough to save the necessary amount.

Open a Savings Account

Opening a dedicated savings account can prove incredibly helpful when saving for any big expense — your wedding included. Setting up a goal-oriented savings account may help keep you on target. Watching the account balance rise toward your goal can motivate you to keep up the good work.

You may also choose to set up your direct deposit from work to automatically transfer a specified account like clockwork, making saving a no-brainer. When this account is dedicated to a single purpose, you might be less likely to "accidentally" spend some of the savings on other expenses.

In addition, many savings accounts pay interest, meaning your money can grow while in the account. Savings accounts are also safe, with most protected by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) to the maximum amount. That means, in the highly unlikely case the bank fails, the FDIC will either refund your money or deposit it in a similar account at a different financial institution.

There are several types of savings accounts to consider, including high-yield savings accounts and certificates of deposit (CDs), which tend to offer higher interest payouts than standard savings accounts.

It may be a good idea to ensure your spouse-to-be is listed as a joint holder of the savings account. That way, there will be financial transparency between the two of you while saving for a common goal.

Tips for Saving for a Wedding

Making smart choices may help reach your savings goals faster. These may include:

Make Little Spending Tweaks Every Day

Reducing regular expenses can greatly help you save for a large goal. Consider cutting back on expenses such as streaming subscriptions, underused gym memberships, and dining out. Look for free or low-cost alternatives, such as watching movies and shows on no-cost streaming platforms, taking up running or walking instead of hitting the gym, and cooking food at home.

Remember, a little money saved every day may add up over time.

Sacrifice Other Big Expenses

When planning an expensive wedding, it may be prudent to put off other big expenses such as a new home, car purchase, or lavish vacations. If you and your partner own cars, consider becoming a one-car household and selling the unneeded vehicle. This could add thousands of dollars to your wedding budget. And, if both of you currently own a home, it may be worth selling one and finding a low-cost temporary residence. A successful home sale could pay for a wedding and honeymoon, with money left over to save for your future life together.

Readjust Your Wedding Budget

If saving the money needed for your dream wedding isn't turning out to be feasible, it might be time to reconsider the budget. Are there cheaper alternatives to some of the big-ticket items on the list? Can you go the do-it-yourself (DIY) route for invitations, decorations, or favors rather than buying them? Can you trim the guest list?

Sometimes, switching a wedding to a different day or month may also help drastically reduce costs. For example, a wedding on a winter Friday might prove much cheaper than one on a summer Saturday.

Before you book the venue, catering, florist, photographer, etc., comparison shopping can ensure you're getting a good deal. A lower-cost alternative might turn out to be just as good as — or even better than — your first choice.

Consider Borrowing Options

You may also want to consider using a personal loan to help cover some or all of the wedding expenses. Typically, banks allow borrowers to take out personal loans for practically any purpose, including hosting the wedding of their dreams.

With a personal loan, you'll receive a lump sum for the approved loan amount. You'll then repay the amount of the loan, plus interest, in installments over time. Unlike mortgages and car loans, personal loans are unsecured. This means you don't need to put up property for collateral. You'll also likely receive the funds sooner than a secured loan because there's usually not as lengthy an underwriting process for approval.

The loan amount you'll qualify for depends on several factors, including your income, employment status, and credit score. These factors may also determine the rate of interest that you'll need to pay.

If considering a personal loan for a wedding, shop around to find one with the flexibility you need, plus low interest rates and fees. PNC Personal Loans have no prepayment penalties or origination fees. They're available in amounts between $1,000 and $35,000, potentially granting you enough funds to pay for the wedding you’ve always wanted.

It's worth noting that many couples opt to use credit cards to pay for wedding-related expenses. While this may seem like a convenient payment method, keep in mind that interest rates can be high and interest accumulates on unpaid balances. However, it’s also possible to use credit cards wisely to help pay for some of the costs of a wedding. For example, many credit cards reward customers with flyer points that can be used to book a honeymoon or other points that can be used for wedding expenses.

The Bottom Line: How To Save for a Wedding With Success

A wedding can be a huge expense, but the big event can be within reach if you work together toward a common goal, remain flexible, and keep a realistic mindset. This may include foregoing unnecessary expenses or making sacrifices such as postponing major vacations. It also may include carefully considering your wedding details, including the guest list.

However, at the end of the day, remember that the most important aspect of a wedding is the marriage that it begins. Starting out on a good financial footing together may help your marriage stand the test of time.