According to wedding planning site Zola, the average cost of a U.S. wedding in 2024 is $33,000. That’s a lot more than my wife and I spent on our wedding! Of course, we got married…a few years ago. Not going to tell you how many years. Ahem. My personal life is none of your business!
But the point is: Along with higher prices of car insurance and pretty much everything else, weddings have gotten really expensive. There’s nothing wrong with throwing a big bash to celebrate your big day with your family and friends! But be careful not to spend so much on your wedding that you rack up a bunch of credit card debt.
Saving money on your wedding can help you have a happier honeymoon and a stronger foundation for your future personal finances as a married couple.
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Let’s look at a few ways to use extra wedding savings (or those sweet, sweet cash wedding gifts) to have an affordable, memorable honeymoon.
1. Get a travel rewards credit card or airline credit card
If you want to take a faraway vacation for your honeymoon, you might want to plan ahead and apply for a travel rewards credit card or airline credit card. The best airline credit cards and other rewards cards have surprisingly generous welcome offers with tens of thousands of extra frequent flyer miles or reward points. Just by switching your everyday spending to go through a new credit card, you can quickly earn enough points or miles to get a free plane ticket or other great travel perks.
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On a recent trip to Europe, I was chatting with a young American married couple on the train, and they told me that they use a travel rewards card for everything they buy in everyday life — groceries, restaurants, streaming services, subscriptions, and more. By spending thousands of dollars a month on a rewards credit card, they can get free flights and great travel benefits that make international travel more affordable.
The lesson: Be like that couple! As a married couple, it’s easy to add your spouse to your travel rewards credit card as an authorized user. It’s like a joint checking account for travel rewards. Having your spouse as an authorized user on your rewards card lets you work as a team to earn free travel faster.
2. Delay your honeymoon for a few months until off-peak season
Autumn is the most popular season for weddings, according to a survey from The Knot. As of 2022, 43% of weddings happened during September-November. Summer is close behind; 28% of weddings occurred during June-August. Depending on when you get married, honeymoon travel might also be in peak season.
Waiting a few months after your wedding gives you more time to use Google Flights and other search tools to find affordable travel deals. This can also give you time to recover from the financial expenses of the big day. Spend a few months after the wedding replenishing your savings account, and then you can get ready for a big honeymoon trip.
The lesson: Just as there are peak seasons for wedding venues, honeymoon travel might also be more expensive right around your wedding day. Planning your honeymoon for a different time of year, even six months or later beyond your wedding date, can help you save money — and it gives you more time to earn credit card points for discount air travel!
3. Choose affordable honeymoon destinations
Your honeymoon doesn’t have to happen at an expensive beach resort during the highest-priced days of peak tourist season. Think ahead about what kind of experience you want to have as a couple. What places are meaningful to you? How can you make the most of this once-in-a-lifetime moment together?
You could go to a nearby city within driving distance, take a winter vacation honeymoon in a cold-weather climate, or have a honeymoon in a lower-cost small town or rural destination. Instead of going to the highest-priced big cities and the in-demand resorts, sometimes the underrated places are the most affordable — and you’ll have a great time and meet friendly people who are excited to have you!
The lesson: Are you extra flexible on your honeymoon dates and destination? Try Google Flights, Kayak.com and SkyScanner to search for affordable flights anywhere in the world. You might be surprised at how cheap the airfares can be, and you can explore a new city or country that you might never have visited before.
Bottom line: Your wedding day shouldn’t empty your bank account. Try to save money on your wedding so you can invest in your new marriage by having a happy honeymoon. If you plan ahead and have flexible dates, you can find surprisingly affordable honeymoon destinations all over the world. Travel rewards credit cards can also be a great solution for married couples to support each other in earning frequent flyer miles, free airfares, and more.
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