How to pay for a wedding

Weddings can be expensive, so paying for your special day will need some planning.

Using savings to pay for a wedding

  • There are benefits to saving up to pay for your wedding. The main one being that you won’t have monthly repayments and interest charges to worry about in future.

    Family and friends may be willing to help too, either financially, or by offering time and materials to help you manage the cost of a wedding.

    However borrowing could be another option if you:

    • Would like to get married sooner rather than later.
    • Can’t or don’t want to rely on the generosity of others.
    • Want to keep savings as a buffer to cover future expenses.
    • Would lose higher interest paid on savings, e.g. from an ISA.
    • Can borrow at a low interest rate.
    • Want extra protection on credit card purchases.

    Of course, you could use a mixture of savings and credit to pay for a wedding, helping you keep your borrowing and interest costs to a minimum.

    More about savings accounts

  • If you’re over the age of 55 and have been contributing to a pension, you may be able to access a tax-free lump sum from your fund, using that to pay for a wedding. However, it’s important to consider the future impact of this, leaving you with less income when you are older.

    You should speak to a fully qualified pensions adviser, regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, before deciding whether taking funds from your pension is the right thing to do.

    Find an advisor using unbiased.co.uk

If you’re planning to use credit

When you apply for credit, lenders contact their preferred credit reference agencies to check your credit record. This may highlight any potential risks associated with offering you credit, and can influence the interest rates and any amount of credit you’re offered.

All lending is subject to an assessment of your circumstances.

With any form of borrowing, fees and interest may apply. To limit these costs, you should only borrow what you can reasonably afford to repay, over the shortest possible term.

More about credit scores

Credit options for funding your wedding

  • If you’re approved for a personal loan, the money you borrow will be sent to your current account, ready to cover larger costs, such as the wedding venue, or all of your wedding essentials.

    A personal loan could offer you a fixed borrowing amount of at least £1,000, over a term to suit your budget – typically 1-7 years. At the end of that term, your loan will be repaid in full, so long as you’ve made all of the necessary payments.

    If interest rates are fixed your monthly loan repayments will be too, making it easier to keep track and understand your borrowing costs. This may be preferable for couples starting out together, as you’re likely have future plans and expenses to budget for, such as moving home if your family grows.

    Other lenders may offer personal loans with variable interest rates. If you choose one of those, just be aware that your monthly payments could change over time.

    You may be able to make overpayments on some loans without incurring early repayment charges, which could reduce the term and amount of interest you pay overall.

    More about wedding loans

  • Subject to the credit limit available, and the interest rates which apply to your account, a credit card could be a flexible and cost-effective way to pay for wedding expenses.

    An introductory or promotional rate could offer low or even 0% interest on card purchases. To limit your interest costs, aim to repay your balance before any offers expire, at which point your standard interest rates will apply to your outstanding balance.

    Note also, if you miss a payment or go over your agreed credit limit, you could lose any promotional or introductory interest rates. If you do use a credit card, it’s important to manage it carefully.

    Unlike a personal loan, there’s less structure around your repayments, which could make it harder to budget, especially if you use your credit card to make further transactions.

    Unless a 0% interest rate applies to purchases, to avoid paying interest on purchases, you need to pay off your statement balance in full and on time every month.

    You can repay as much as you want when you’re able to, or as little as the minimum payment each month. Just be aware that if you only pay the minimum, it’ll take longer and cost you more to clear your credit card balance.

    Where the total purchase price is over £100 and up to £30,000, credit card purchases will usually be covered by Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974.

    On selected cards you may be able to request a money transfer, moving funds from your credit card to your UK current account, which could help you to manage cash only purchases – just make sure you’re buying from someone you feel you can trust.

    It’s also important to know that a transfer fee may apply, and purchases made using cash, debit card or bank transfer won’t be covered by Section 75.

    Before you make payments to anyone from your current account, it’s worth making sure the payment details are genuine. There’s a form of fraud, where emails including bank details are intercepted and changed by criminals, so you unconsciously send funds to the wrong account. This can be avoided by making a simple phone call, or requesting a printed invoice including the correct payment details.

    Refer to our fraud hub if you’d like more information about protecting yourself.

    More about credit cards

  • If you use an overdraft on your current account, you could be charged daily interest, which will be defined in the terms and conditions of your account.

    Some banks and building societies will allow you to use an unarranged overdraft, however your credit score could be negatively impacted if you do.

    Instead, you could apply for an arranged overdraft on your current account. You’ll only be charged daily interest as and when you use it.

    It’s important to know that the amount you can borrow with an overdraft may be more limited than other types of credit and, if you use the full amount, you won’t have that safety-net to fall back on in the short-term.

    An overdraft may not be the most cost-effective way to manage long-term borrowing. Rather than the entire cost of a wedding, which may take considerably longer to repay, an overdraft could help you to cover unexpected wedding costs which you can repay over a shorter term.

    More about overdrafts

  • You may be able to borrow more on your existing mortgage, or remortgage with a new lender to borrow against your home in order to pay for significant life events, such as a wedding.

    However, this could depend on:

    • Whether your lender will allow you to add to your mortgage for this purpose.
    • Your age and whether you’d be extending your mortgage into retirement.
    • Your personal circumstances and the health of your credit record.
    • Whether you can afford additional repayments.
    • How close you are to paying off your mortgage.
    • The loan to value ratio for your property.

    While interest rates are low, you may consider borrowing more on your mortgage to pay for a wedding. However, it’s important to consider the impact of future changes in interest rates and your personal circumstances.

    Because your mortgage is secured against your home, it may be repossessed if you don’t keep up with your repayments. That in itself may be a reason to choose an alternative borrowing option.

    The typical duration of a mortgage is 25 years, although in the UK you may be able to get a mortgage for anything from 6 months to 40 years. Your borrowing costs over a long period could be significant, even at a low interest rate.

    To limit your costs, you should only borrow what you can reasonably afford to repay, over the shortest possible term. Another borrowing option may be cheaper over a shorter term, even if the interest rate is higher.

    You must seek support from a mortgage adviser before you apply to borrow more or change your mortgage in order to pay for a wedding. You should explore all financing options to find the one which suits your individual circumstances.

    More about mortgages

  • Usually only available to homeowners aged 55 and over, you may be able to release tax-free cash in order to cover the cost of a wedding, whilst staying in your own home.

    This generally takes the form of a loan, secured against your property. You won’t have to pay anything until you pass away, or move out of your home into long-term care.

    Before deciding on whether equity release is right for you, you should speak to a qualified adviser. They will be able to explain what’s involved and tell you about other options. We can put you in touch with a Scottish Widows Later Life Lending Advisor, or you can find a qualified adviser through MoneyHelper and the Equity Release Council.

    More about equity release

How much can you afford to spend?

As well as the big things, make sure your wedding budget covers invitations and thank you cards, any costs for registering your intent to marry, copies of your wedding certificate and even confetti.

You can shop around or change plans to keep your costs down, but what you don’t want are any surprise costs you’ll struggle to cover once you’re committed to a booking and date.

Your wedding essentials

Whether you’re planning a big day, or something small and intimate, below are some of the things you might need to budget for, helping you to create your perfect wedding day.

Pre-wedding parties

Many couples enjoy engagement, stag or hen parties before their wedding.

Transport

Whether it’s just transport for the bridal party, or you plan to ferry all of your guests between venues, it’s worth factoring these costs into your budget. In 2021, it cost up to £600 to hire a wedding car, and up to £700 to hire a coach for transporting guests.

Venue

Wherever you host the ceremony and reception, it’s likely you’ll need to pay to use the space and for any decorations you’d like to dress it with. If you need to book a registrar to record your marriage, you’ll also need to factor in that cost. In 2021, the average cost of a wedding venue was reported as around £57 for a registry office, £500+ for a church, and £5,400+ for something statelier.

Flowers

From simple corsages and bouquets to floral table displays and other decorations, you may want to use flowers to add colour and natural beauty to your special day. In 2021, £250 would pay for basic floral bouquets, corsages and buttonholes. Table decorations may have increased the cost to £500+, depending on your requirements.

Food and drink

However simple the wedding, sharing a meal and raising a glass is a traditional way to celebrate with your guests. In 2021, the average cost of wedding catering came in at around £4,000. Cutting the wedding cake is also a classic photo opportunity, with an average bill of around £300 in 2021.

Photography

You may know someone who is talented with a camera, otherwise you may want to enlist a photographer or videographer to capture events of the day. In 2021, the average price was around £1,500.

Rings

Your wedding jewellery is an enduring symbol of your commitment, which you’re likely to have for your whole married life. It could also represent a good portion of the wedding budget.

Entertainment

The options are wide ranging, but many couples choose to hire a band, singer or DJ to add music and merriment to their wedding day. In 2021, the cost of hiring a 4-piece band was around £1,500.

Clothing

Consider the cost of dresses, suits, shoes and accessories, not just for the bride and groom, but also any bridesmaids, groomsmen and other significant guests. The average cost of a simple wedding dress and shoes in 2021, was reported as £1,100.

Honeymoon

If you’re planning to take some time after the wedding preparations to relax as a couple, you may want to factor the cost of a honeymoon into your budget.

The average costs we’ve included were published in June 2021, by MoneyHelper, who work for the Money and Pensions Service.

More about getting married

Key points about paying for a wedding

However small, a wedding takes a lot of planning and budgeting:

  • Make a list of everything you may need to pay for, from confetti to the wedding venue.
  • If you can use savings, you’ll avoid months of repayments and any associated borrowing costs.
  • If you need to borrow in order to pay for a wedding, you could have a number of options, personal loan, credit card, overdraft or even adding to your mortgage.
  • To give you the best chance of being accepted for credit, you’ll need a good credit score, and enough spare income in order to comfortably afford your repayments.

Where next?

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