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Financial Wedding Tips for a Memorable “I Do”

June 11, 2024

As we enter the traditional wedding month of June, we wanted to explore the range of expenses that can be related to this special event.

The average US wedding costs $35,0001

According to The Knot Real Weddings Study of nearly 10,000 couples across the country, in 2023, the average cost of a wedding ceremony and reception was $35,000, an increase of $5,000 over 2022. With inflation driving costs up across the board, paying for a child's or grandchild's wedding has never been more expensive.

Remember, that $35,000 figure is only the national average. Depending on where you live, you could be paying more. A New York metro area wedding would set you back an average of $63,000 in 2023, while the average cost of a Los Angeles wedding approached $50,000.

Who pays?

Regardless of your budget, it makes sense to prepare ahead of time for the event.

Traditionally, the bride's parents are responsible for most wedding expenses. Traditions evolve, and sharing the financial burden of a wedding is not unusual. In today's culture, both families, including the couple, should be involved in the budget discussion. Proper modern etiquette is good communication, not tradition.2

With many couples putting off marriage, more are established in their careers and better positioned to contribute financially or even pay for the entire thing. According to Zola, most couples contribute to their wedding expenses. If the bride and groom want to contribute, let them! Even if you can afford to cover all costs, their contribution gives them greater ownership and pride in their big day.3

Tips & Ideas4

Collectively, all interested parties should decide on a budget regardless of who is footing the bill. If the bottom line elicits sticker shock, start trimming costs early. Here are some ideas on how to have a fantastic day.

  • Hire a wedding planner. It may sound counterintuitive, but hiring a wedding planner can help save money by ensuring expenses stay within the agreed-upon budget. A wedding planner may also be able to use their experience and contacts to get better deals.
  • Cut down the guest list. Inviting fewer people is the most obvious way to save money. According to The Knot Survey, the average wedding guest count in 2023 was 115, with the cost per guest coming in at $304.
  • Choose the date carefully. While June is the traditional wedding month, off-season weddings can save money, as can picking a Friday, Sunday, or even a trendy weekday date.
  • Don’t assume an at-home wedding is cheaper. While a backyard wedding may sound like a great money-saver, it can be even pricier than a traditional wedding venue. The cost of bringing everything yourself, from tents to generators to portable toilets and hiring staff, adds up quickly. Throwing a do-it-yourself wedding is also a significant time commitment for everyone involved. The adage “time is money” applies here. So, think carefully about what you will get into before deciding.
  • Get creative. Some are asking friends to give talents instead of gifts. If you know creatives, such as photographers, videographers, or designers, they might be willing to help.

What about a Destination Wedding?5,6

Like a local wedding, the three critical decisions when preparing for a destination wedding are budget, preferred venues, and desired wedding date. Here are some pros and cons of having a destination wedding:


  • You may have a chance to connect more deeply with your family and friends since you are often together for several days.
  • A spectacular and exotic backdrop can make for a more unique and memorable event!
  • Booking an all-inclusive resort with a wedding package can help manage costs. The guest list will also most likely be smaller.


  • Not everyone can afford the trip or is willing to travel.
  • It can be hard to prepare for every little detail from a distance.
  • You may feel responsible for creating events before and after the wedding day.

The best time to prepare is 12–18 months before the wedding date. This gives guests enough time to budget and organize and gives couples the best chance of getting the date they want at the resort of their choice.

How to Pay for the Wedding

There are several choices to use when paying for a wedding.7,8

  • Consider using available assets—Now is the time to consider using any money you have earmarked for a wedding as part of your long-term financial strategy.
  • Credit Cards—Unlike handing over cash, using a credit card gives you the right to dispute charges if a product or service doesn't deliver what was promised. However, credit cards are only one financing choice to consider.

Footing the bill for a wedding (or multiple weddings) takes a well-thought-out and disciplined approach. As financial professionals, we can review all your assets and help you assess your financing options.

How Much to Spend on a Wedding Gift?

Here are some answers to frequently asked questions from wedding experts at Vogue.9

  • How much should I spend on a wedding gift? On average, people pay $50 to $100 for a wedding gift, with the amount increasing based on the closeness of the relationship. Coworkers or distant relatives may spend $50 to $75, friends or relatives $75 to $100, and close friends, family members, or wedding party members $100 to $150 or more.
  • Should I buy a gift if I can't attend the wedding? Yes, if you're invited to the wedding ceremony, it's proper etiquette to send a gift even if you can't attend. For those invited only to the reception, a gift is optional.
  • Is it okay to give a group gift? Yes, group gifts are acceptable, especially for wedding party members who have already spent money on other wedding-related expenses or for families and couples who want to give a bigger gift together.
  • Should I give a wedding gift that matches the price per head? No, the cost of your gift should depend on your relationship with the couple and your means, not the formality of the wedding or the price per head.
  • Is it okay to give cash as a wedding gift? Yes, cash gifts are perfectly acceptable. To avoid misplacement, send cash or checks ahead of time rather than bringing them to the wedding.
  • Do I have to buy a wedding gift for a destination wedding? Your presence at a destination wedding can be considered a gift, as you've already invested time and money to attend. However, giving an additional gift is still appreciated.
  • How long do I have to get the couple a wedding gift after the wedding? Traditionally, you have up to one year to give a wedding gift, but it's best to send it as soon as possible after the wedding.
  • How do I address a check to the couple? Write the check out to one person using their legal name to avoid issues with the bank not accepting checks with the new surname.
  • Is it okay to buy gifts that aren't on the wedding registry? Yes, purchasing off-registry gifts is acceptable, but make sure it's something the couple will love and appreciate.
  • Is it OK to ask if they received the gift if I haven’t received a thank you note several months after the wedding? You can gently contact the couple to ensure they received your gift if you haven't received a thank-you note.

As financial professionals and advisors, we understand the importance of carefully budgeting for significant events like weddings. Whether you're a parent or grandparent contributing to the special day, a couple preparing for your celebration, or a guest attending a wedding, it's crucial to approach these expenses with a clear understanding of your financial situation and goals.

We can help you develop a comprehensive wedding strategy that accounts for your short-term and long-term objectives, helping you celebrate life's milestones while helping you manage your bottom line.

1. The Knot, February 2024
2. Bridal Guide, March 2024
3. Zola, March 2024
4. The Knot, February 2024
5. Hola Weddings, March 2024
6. Zola, March 2024
7. The Knot, September 2023
8. Experian, April 2023
9. Vogue, November 2023