Some people plan their wedding for decades. It’s often the happiest day of someone’s life. And it’s certainly a day that people remember forever.
But is it a day that’s worth making a financial sacrifice to finance? Should you borrow money for a wedding?
That’s what a listener of the Clark Howard Podcast recently asked.
Should You Borrow Money for a Wedding?
Everyone wants their wedding to be special. For some, that means heading to the courthouse with a loved one. For others, that means throwing the most expensive party their family has ever seen.
Weddings can cost tens of thousands of dollars, especially if you want to go first class on every decision. Many people don’t have that sort of money sitting in their bank account in cash.
So should you borrow money for a wedding? A listener asked this difficult question on the Feb. 3 podcast episode.
Meigan in Alabama asked: “My daughter just got engaged and is planning her wedding. We have to plan ahead to get a venue, wedding dress, coordinator, caterers, flowers, photographer, DJ, etc. Most require a deposit or full payment. We are trying to minimize costs yet provide her with the best for her special day.
“We’re going to have to borrow the money because we don’t have it in savings. We have an emergency fund but don’t want to use it. It wouldn’t be enough anyway. Where would the best place to take out a loan during this economy? My husband said he could borrow against his retirement, but would rather not.”
Knowing how sensitive this topic is, Clark took his time answering.
“I’m a parent of three children. And I’m going to be very careful how I say this. I don’t want you and your husband to borrow, spend, borrow, spend on the wedding,” Clark says. “There’s too much financial risk to you and your husband moving forward.”
Dream Weddings Aren’t Evil, But They Are Expensive
Weddings can be tricky. Traditionally, the bride’s parents pay for a wedding. But that’s less common today. My wife and I paid for our own wedding, as many couples now do.
Everyone’s financial circumstances, relationships, family situations and priorities are different. Someone may be totally fine living in a one-bedroom apartment for a decade but would regret cutting elements from their dream wedding to save money. There’s nothing inherently evil about choosing to pay for a really nice wedding.
But it’s important to be honest about the financial implications of a wedding beyond the wedding day. That goes for parents and for the bride and groom.
Clark’s Best Advice on Borrowing Money for Your Wedding
Clark’s advice to Meigan: Sit down with your daughter and her intended and be honest with them about your financial situation. You don’t have the money to fund the wedding you’re imagining for them. And borrowing money for a wedding isn’t going to be healthy for you.
Wedding aside, Clark has always given this sort of advice to parents. You’re a generation closer to retirement than your kids are. If you splurge too much on your children and don’t set yourself up financially, you may need to depend on your kids financially in retirement.
It’s better to take care of yourself first so that you can help others, such as your daughter, without becoming a financial burden. If you aren’t there yet, there’s no shame in saying so.
“There’s not any requirement that you have to put on an expensive wedding that would for those hours of that wedding you’d feel great but you’d have a financial hangover for years,” Clark says.
“I don’t want you to bury yourself into a mountain of debt. When you tell me you’re trying to figure out where do you borrow in a slowing economy or should your husband take out a loan from a 401(k), or wipe out the emergency fund, I’m not comfortable with it.”
The most important part of a marriage, Clark says, isn’t the party on the wedding day.
“What matters is that the two of them love each other and that they get to have a great life together. The rest is just details,” Clark says. “It really is about the genuineness of the love that one has for the other.”
There’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to a wedding budget.
However, borrowing money for a wedding can lead to years of financial recovery. Especially for parents.
Be honest and realistic about your financial situation and the potential consequences of going all out for a wedding, especially when it comes to taking on debt.