How to pay for a wedding
What does your perfect day look like, and how will you pay for it?
Saving up to pay for a wedding might take a while, but it will mean you don’t have monthly repayments and interest costs to think about after the big day.
Family and friends might also want to help, offering their time and financial support.
But borrowing could be an option if you:
- Don’t want to wait to get married.
- Can’t or don’t want to rely on family/friends.
- Want to keep savings 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.
You could use a mix of savings and credit to pay for a wedding, helping you to keep your borrowing and costs to a minimum.
If you’re aged 55 or over, and have been paying into a pension, you might be able to release a tax-free lump sum from your pension fund 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.
If you plan to use credit
When you apply, lenders contact their preferred credit reference agencies to check your credit record. This may highlight any potential credit risks, and can impact the interest rates and any amount of credit you’re offered.
All lending is subject to an assessment of your circumstances.
With any kind of borrowing, fees and interest might apply. To limit costs, you should only borrow what you can reasonably afford to repay, over the shortest possible term.
If you’re approved for a loan, the money you borrow will be transferred into your current account, ready to spend on a wedding, including larger costs like the venue.
A personal loan could offer you a fixed borrowing amount, over a term to suit your budget – typically 1-7 years. At the end of that term, the loan will be repaid in full, just as long as you’ve made all of the required payments.
If interest rates are fixed your monthly repayments will be too, making it easier to keep track and understand your borrowing costs.
Other lenders might offer loans with variable interest rates. If you choose one of those, just know that your monthly payments could change over time.
You might be able to make overpayments on some loans without facing early repayment charges, which could reduce the term and amount of interest you’ll pay overall.
Depending on the amount of credit available to you, a credit card could be a flexible way to spread the cost of a wedding. Just be aware of the borrowing costs which might apply, including interest fees and other charges.
An introductory or promotional rate could offer low or even 0% interest on card purchases. To limit your interest costs, plan to repay your balance before any offers expire and higher standard interest rates kick in.
It’s worth knowing, if you miss a payment or go over your agreed credit limit, you could lose any promotional or introductory interest rates, so if you do use a credit card, manage it carefully.
Also be aware, 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 pay off your 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 some credit cards you may be able to request a money transfer, moving funds from your credit card to your UK current account. That could be handy if you need to make cash only purchases – just make sure you’re employing or 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.
If you use an overdraft on your current account, you might be charged daily interest, which will be detailed in the terms and conditions of your account.
Some banks and building societies will allow you to use an unarranged overdraft, but your credit score could be 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.
Just be aware, the amount you can borrow with an overdraft might 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 might not be the most cost-effective way to manage long-term borrowing. Rather than the full cost of a wedding, which might take considerably longer to repay, an overdraft could help you to cover unexpected wedding costs which you can repay over a shorter term.
You might be able to borrow more against your current mortgage, or remortgage with a new lender to cover the cost of a significant life-event, like a wedding.
However, this could depend on:
- Your age and whether you’d be extending your mortgage into retirement.
- Whether your lender will let you add to your mortgage for this reason.
- 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 might consider borrowing more on your mortgage. But it’s really important to consider the impact of future changes in interest rates, and your financial circumstances.
Because your mortgage is secured against your home, it could be repossessed if you don’t keep up with your repayments. That in itself might be a reason to choose an alternative borrowing option.
A typical mortgage term is 25 years but, in the UK, you might be able to get a mortgage for anything from 6 months to 40 years. Over a long period, your borrowing costs could really mount up, 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 could 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 to pay for a wedding. You should explore all financing options to find the one which suits your individual circumstances.
Usually only available to homeowners aged 55 and over, you may be able to release tax-free cash to pay for a big life event, like a wedding, whilst staying in your own home.
This usually 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.
To decide whether equity release is right for you, it’s worth speaking to a qualified adviser. They’ll be able to explain the details and help you to explore 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.
Lots of couples kick things off with engagement, stag or hen parties.
Most venues will charge a fee for hosting your ceremony and reception. You should also factor in the cost of decorations. If you need to book a registrar to record your marriage, you’ll also need to cover that cost. The average cost of a wedding venue in 2021 was around £57 for a registry office, £500+ for a church, and for something even grander… £5,400+.
Food and drink
A meal and raising a toast is a traditional way to celebrate with your guests. For dessert, many couples opt for a wedding cake. Sampling the menu is also a fun pre-wedding treat. Again, in 2021, the average cost of wedding catering came in at around £4,000. The average wedding cake in 2021, came at a cost of around £300.
You’ll wear your wedding rings for your whole married life, so it’s worth investing in a design you love, whether that’s from a shop, or by commissioning a jeweller to make something unique.
Remember to budget for dresses, suits, shoes and accessories, not only for the bride and groom, but also any bridesmaids, groomsmen and other important guests. The average cost of a simple wedding dress and shoes in 2021, was around £1,100.
Consider the cost of transporting guests between venues, if that’s something you’d like to cover, or just transport for the groom and bridal parties. In 2021, the average cost of hiring a wedding car was £600. Hiring a coach to transport guest cost a further £700 on average.
Many couples choose flowers to add natural beauty to their wedding day, from corsages and bouquets, to table displays and even floral archways. In 2021, £250 would pay for basic floral bouquets, corsages and buttonholes. Adding table decorations increased the average cost to £500+.
Unless you know someone talented who’ll take snaps for free, you might want to hire a photographer or videographer to capture your special day. Photo booths and instant cameras are also popular choices for weddings. The average price was around £1,500 in 2021.
Many couples choose to hire a band, singer or DJ to create a vibe, but there are plenty of other options, depending on what you’re into. The cost of hiring a 4-piece band was, on average, £1,500 in 2021.
A post-wedding honeymoon
If you’d like to take some time after the wedding to relax as a couple, a trip away could be high on your wish list. Make sure you factor this into your budget.
What are you able to spend on your wedding?
Make sure your budget covers the cost of wedding stationery, copies of your wedding certificates, charges for registering your intent to marry, and even little things like confetti.
You can shop around or change things to reduce costs, but what you don’t want are any surprise expenses you’ll struggle to manage once you’re committed to a date and venue.
A summary on paying for a wedding
Weddings can be an expensive undertaking, so planning and budgeting are important.
- List everything you’ll need to pay for, from clothing to the wedding venue.
- If you can use savings, you won’t have repayments and borrowing costs to think about.
- If you need to borrow to pay for your wedding, options could include a personal loan, credit card, 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 so you can afford your repayments comfortably.