When I got engaged last year, I wanted to have my cake and eat it, too.
However, we both had financial strains. We didn't want to add to that with any wedding debt. We both already had debt, thanks to our student loans. Of course, we knew that the logical thing to do would be to pay off more of our debt rather than spend it on a big traditional wedding.
But we decided to do the “irresponsible” thing – at least on this one-time event in our life – and have a big wedding, anyway.
Till this point in time, I had committed to making many sacrifices to become debt-free, and I took my fiancé and my son along with me for the ride. I’ve gone without a cell phone for six months straight. I resisted buying any new clothes for eight months.
What's more, I bring my lunch to work each day. I've even moved to a more affordable apartment with fewer amenities to cut my living expenses by a third.
Then I accepted a huge television set that was apparently going dead from one of our friends. It was missing three pixels when we first received it. Now it’s missing about 100 pixels. I'm not complaining. It’s all worth it in the pursuit of debt reduction.
But the day we got engaged, something totally different happened: we both instinctively voted for a large wedding.
How I Paid for my Wedding in Cash — While Paying Off My Debt
Needless to say, inviting around 120 people to share my special day in a traditional wedding set me back in terms my goal to be debt-free. But this is personal, and we’re making it happen.
We decided on a budget of $7,000, leaving me with $3,500 to come up with. Even though we won’t spend the national average of $26,000, it’s not small change for us.
That money could have certainly made a dent in my debt. It also could have added a nice cushion to my emergency fund, but I chose to splurge for the first time in a long time. And what better day to do it than my own wedding?
Making Small Compromises for the Big Day
I haven’t forgotten my debt, either. I do pay somewhat lower installments than what I'd been paying before. But I'm still paying at least three times the minimum payment on my student loans, which are the only debts I have left.
I hustle hard seven days a week, pay my debt and save first, and then spend about $500 on wedding expenses each month.
We are not borrowing or transferring from savings to pay for our wedding. Instead, we paid for the wedding in cash as we went along. We didn't want to owe anyone on the wedding account and we accrued zero wedding debt the morning after.
While the thought of paying thousands of dollars for a venue and feeding everyone didn’t exactly make me happy, there was a huge return (even if not quite tangible) in terms of sharing the day with family and friends and making memories.
My wedding wasn't held in an exquisite cathedral with stained glass windows. I didn't have an open bar and a live band or a $1,000 photo booth. There wasn't a chocolate fountain with strawberries and marshmallows. There wasn't any custom-made ice sculptures. But we didn't end up in tens of thousands of dollars of wedding debt.
I did, however, have a great DJ (courtesy of my uncle) and some delicious cupcakes from my favorite bakery. The best part is that all my favorite people were together in one place to enjoy the day with me and dance the night away – something that I’d never experienced before. After we finish celebrating, I got back to crushing my debt in earnest the day after!