The average cost of a wedding in the US is $26,444. If that number sounds a little bit bonkers, that’s because the numbers are skewed by big spenders. In all reality, most couples spend less than $10,000 on their big day.
But $10,000 is still a nice chunk of change. Your wedding day is a big deal, but you should not let it put you in debt. That’s not a fun way to start out marital finances. There are tons of ways to cut down on costs so that you can have a gorgeous wedding that you can afford:
- Shop smart for the engagement ring
- Shop smart for your dress
- Eliminate the cost of an officiant
- Be savvy about the true costs of your venue
- Get creative with décor
- DIY your own place cards
- But DIYing your own invitations may not be worth it
Even after you’ve cut costs as far as they can go, it’s likely that you’ll still end up spending at least a few grand on your event. If you can afford it, there’s nothing wrong with that at all.
If you’re going to spend a couple grand anyways, though, I’m all about strategizing it so you can save a ton on another massive wedding expense: the honeymoon.
Why Your Wedding Can Be the Ideal Travel Hacking Opportunity
Plane tickets and hotel rooms, the things of honeymoons, are both things that can easily be travel hacked. (But only do it after asking yourself these very important questions.) In order to get the massive credit card bonuses needed to make your flight and accommodations super cheap or even free, though, you have to meet a card’s minimum spend.
When you’re planning your wedding, you just happen to be dropping money out of savings left and right. If you put that spending on a credit card first, and then pay your credit card statement in full before it is due, you should have an easy time of meeting those minimum spend requirements.
Then you get mega bonus points. Then you can do the romantic travel thing for cheap or free.
Strategize that Spend
Let’s look at an example. The PenFed Premium Travel Rewards American Express® Card currently has a 20,000 point sign up bonus. In order to get those bonus points, you have to spend $2,500 on the card within the first three months of your account being open.
If you’re spending $4,000 on your wedding, that may seem like no problem. But you have to be careful. Not all wedding bills are due at the same time. You might have an initial $1,000 deposit on your venue with the other $1,000 not due until the night of the big party.
You may reserve your venue twelve months out, but you’re likely not looking at dresses until eight or nine months out. They may both make it into the three-month window, but odds are high that the spending will be more spread out.
There are two ways to approach this. Most of your wedding vendors aren’t going to complain if you prepay. If you do that, you’d likely be more capable of hitting the $2,500 minimum far in advance of your big day. You should only do this if you have the funds on hand to pay off your statement immediately, though. In full.
The other option would be to wait until three months before your big day to open the card. This is when most of your big bills are going to come due, whether a couple weeks before the wedding or the night of. You may even have some unexpected last-minute costs like a panicked dress alteration or the realization that you forgot to buy an aisle runner.
When to Take Your Honeymoon
If you use the prepay method, you should have enough time for your bonus points to post to your account so you can book reward travel immediately following your big day.
If you wait to put expenses on your card until your wedding day, though, you will have to wait a while to redeem your points. First, they will have to post to your account. Then, you’ll have to redeem them for available tickets. While some rewards programs will have blackout dates and issues with availability, with PenFed, you can purchase a ticket using your points based on the real market price.
Delayed gratification can really pay off, though. Instead of spending an insane amount of money to get away, you’ll have saved an insane amount of money just by putting your wedding spend on the right card.
This post is in collaboration with PenFed Credit Union.