NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--As couples resume wedding planning amid an impending wedding industry boom expected to begin late summer in the US, WeddingWire—a leading wedding planning resource—partnered with Grow, a personal finance site from Acorns + CNBC, to offer a comprehensive look into how engaged couples have been budgeting and saving for their upcoming wedding celebrations. While couples budget an average of $22,500 for their wedding day ceremony and reception, most aren’t choosing one financial dream over another. In fact, on average, couples are often working toward four additional financial goals while saving for their wedding, including buying a house, paying off student loans, and contributing to their 401(k).
“For many couples, budgeting and saving for a wedding, a new house, family planning, or any of those milestone moments can be one of the most exciting—and sometimes stressful—times in their lives. Despite that occasional stress when planning for these moments, the reality is that most couples don’t need to choose between the practicalities of life and celebration—it’s all about finding a unique financial balance,” said Jeffra Trumpower, senior creative director of WeddingWire. “Our hope is to help ease any stress that couples might face around the wedding budgeting experience by encouraging them to ask for help, get a head start when possible, and of course, lean on our budget planning tools and vendor marketplace, which connects couples with local wedding professionals at every price point.”
“If you’re a couple planning a wedding while working toward other financial goals, have a conversation to set your priorities—together. Talking over your goals helps you figure out the right timeline and budget for each, and what strategies you can use to find balance,” said Kelli Grant, Grow Senior Editor and Certified Financial Planner™ professional. “Finding creative ways to trim expenses and increase your income can free up more money, and setting up automatic savings contributions to ‘pay yourself first’ would help you make steady progress. Meanwhile, you can stay on track for longer-term goals by still contributing at least enough to get the full match in your 401(k) and making your regular student loan payments.”
How Couples Save for Their Weddings
According to the Behind The Wedding Budget Study, 12% of couples go into their engagement with wedding savings, while nearly 40% start saving once they get engaged. The reality of the situation is that most couples are juggling multiple financial goals, including saving for a house (60%) or retirement (52%), all while also saving for a wedding. Additionally, Gen Z (ages 18-24) is more likely to be paying off student loans (64%), while younger millennials (ages 25-29) are more likely to be paying off credit card debt (44%) as they save for their wedding. Also, when compared to young millennials—who are more keen on trying to save by using budgeting tools, contributing to their savings, or utilizing credit card points—Gen Z is more likely to try and increase their income leading up to their wedding, with 49% of couples willing to put in extra shifts or time at work and 17% adding supplemental income through selling secondhand goods and utilizing e-commerce platforms like Etsy. The younger generation is also more likely to move in with their fiancé pre-wedding to cut down on living expenses (40%) compared to young millennials (32%). Regardless of age, saving money for a honeymoon was a top priority for both Gen Z (68%) and young millennial couples (64%).
How Couples Budget for Their Weddings
For 41% of newly engaged couples, figuring out and managing a budget is one of the most challenging parts of wedding planning so far1. Despite this, nearly 75% set a budget before conducting any research on the cost of vendors—often leading to a misalignment between a couple's budget and final wedding day spend. In fact, roughly two out of three saw their budget increase, with the majority admitting that their budget was set lower than what it realistically should have been (68%). Couples said the hardest part of creating and managing a budget was not knowing about fair prices or what vendors cost, as well as having to adjust their expectations to stay within budget. Similarly, when thinking about how much to save, couples expressed concerns around not knowing how much a wedding costs or being unaware of unexpected costs, all while trying to balance other life expenses and saving for future goals. This creates a stressful experience for the majority of couples (56%)—even higher among Gen Z (69%)—and as such, it’s important for couples to be as prepared as possible for this important step in the planning process.
When couples are ready to set their budget—and can do so with WeddingWire’s comprehensive Budgeting Tool and Wedding Cost Guide—another essential step to mitigate stress over unexpected costs is discussing what each person prioritizes. According to the Behind the Wedding Budget Study, self-identifying females typically prioritize photography (86%) and venue (81%), while self-identifying males typically prioritize catering (58%) the most. Roughly one in three couples say they are willing to spend more on the one or two things they really want, and that they’d be willing to increase their budget to accommodate it, with only 10% of couples saying they want to keep costs as low as possible.
How Couples Pay for Their Weddings
While roughly one in four couples pay for their entire weddings themselves (14%)—with older millennial couples two times more likely to pay for their entire weddings without external financial support compared to Gen Z couples (37%)—for many young couples, asking for financial support from family and relatives is incredibly common. In fact, the majority of all couples are receiving at least some financial support (72%). For those couples who receive financial support, the parents of those who self-identify as female in a hetero relationship are the primary contributors (93%), providing the couple with a set dollar amount regardless of the total cost. While most couples are thankful for their parents’ financial support (82%), it doesn’t come without some strings attached. Of those couples, one in three feel an obligation to listen to their parents’ input, and one in five face points of contention with their parents during the planning process. Other than family contributions, the majority of couples did or plan to pay for wedding costs with their savings (66%) and checking account (54%). It was also a popular option for couples to use an existing credit card (30%) to pay for wedding costs, with some couples opting to open a new credit card account (6%) as part of their finance plan. Although couples are willing to use credit cards to pay for their wedding day, three out of four anticipate that they'll pay off credit card debt from their wedding within a few months, likely due to the fact that many couples are focusing on those other future financial goals they’re saving toward.
Even in the midst of budgeting and saving, it’s important for couples to remember that the wedding planning journey should be an enjoyable experience that’s full of happy memories. With the help of WeddingWire’s convenient online and app-based tools and access to hundreds of thousands of local vendor reviews, couples can work together to move past any potential stress around budgeting, have an easy and memorable wedding planning experience, and look forward to celebrating their special day.
Grow will feature a number of in-depth articles including additional findings from the Behind the Wedding Budget Study at: grow.acorns.com.
WeddingWire and Grow by Acorns + CNBC’s Behind the Wedding Budget Study was conducted in April 2021 among nearly 1,000 engaged users ages 18-24 (Gen Z); 25-29 (Younger Millennials); and 30-39 on WeddingWire and The Knot's social media (n = 982).
WeddingWire is a trusted online and app-based marketplace, connecting couples with local wedding professionals across the US and internationally through WeddingWire.in and WeddingWire.ca, with a suite of comprehensive tools that make wedding planning easier. Operating within the $250 billion global wedding industry, WeddingWire helps couples find the right team of wedding professionals to plan and execute a wedding celebration personalized to them. Couples planning their weddings can read millions of vendor reviews and search, compare and book from a directory of hundreds of thousands of vendors local to them. Visit WeddingWire online at WeddingWire.com, WeddingWire.ca, and WeddingWire.in and follow on social media: Facebook.com/WeddingWire and @WeddingWire on Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.
Grow by Acorns + CNBC is an editorial partnership by Acorns, the leading financial wellness system in the U.S., and CNBC, the recognized world leader in business news, focused on personal finance. Grow publishes original educational stories to help you create successful money habits and secure your best financial future. Grow offers news, tips, inspiring profiles and expert advice on how to best save and invest, build wealth and make the most of your money. Visit grow.acorns.com and follow Grow on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
1 Source— TKWW Engaged Users Study