Category: Marriage and Financial Partnership checklist

How to Manage Debt When Tying the Knot

Preparing for your big day can lead to big spending, so it’s important to have a plan to help ensure that you and your new spouse can live happily ever after.

Congratulations! You’re engaged! Amid that whirlwind of celebration, you pick out your dream venue, imagine your ideal décor and contemplate your favorite cake designs, perhaps without thinking about the price – for now. But when you get down to it and plan the details of your wedding, you’ll need to itemize these expenses. After all, the average wedding today costs over $35,000.1

Here’s how you can manage your expenses while helping to keep yourself financially protected if you go into debt.

1. Set a Budget

Before you spend a dime, you and your fiancé(e) should do two things: calculate your wedding budget and ask yourselves how you envision the big day. Differences in location, time of year and number of guests will have the biggest impact on your budget. You should begin conversations with other people involved in the planning, such as your parents and future in-laws, to find out if they might be helping with specific expenses.

2. Track Your Spending

Whether it’s a simple spreadsheet or an app made for the occasion, record all of your payments, how you paid for them and what you may still owe. Over one-third of couples rely on credit cards to take care of their wedding bills, and if you’re not paying attention to your budget, that could lead to a dangerous amount of debt.2 To reduce credit card interest and fees, try to pay off the bill in full each month.

3. Expect to Exceed

No matter the amount of preparation, even the savviest wedding budgeters may find themselves spending beyond their budget. Consider that unanticipated costs may add 30 percent or more to your original budget.3 Make sure to read contracts carefully for hidden fees, take note of gratuities and remember that sales tax will be added to certain items.

4. Cover Your Debt

Getting married is a time to think about the financial obligations you may be combining and how to set a strong foundation for a secure financial future together. As you work through budgeting, take into account your total debt and get life insurance to help financially protect each other in the event of one’s unexpected passing. Not sure how much you need? Our needs calculator can help you and your spouse determine the right amount of life insurance coverage for you.

5. Revisit Your Needs

Your household dynamics will evolve after you recite your vows and merge your finances. If you both already have life insurance, it’s a good time to review your coverage to ensure that you have enough to help financially protect each other. Family additions and things like mortgages and car loans can increase your financial obligations after marriage, so make sure your life insurance keeps pace with the changes in your life. That way, if you should pass, you are honoring your promise to help protect the one you love.


  • The Knot 2016 Real Weddings Study,The Knot, 2016.
  • One-Third of Couples Go Into Debt for Their Wedding Day, MarketWatch, 2015.
  • The Hidden Cost of Weddings, U.S. News & World Report, 2014.

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