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Personal Finance

Weddings are more costly than ever: Here are 10 ways to save money on your wedding expenses

CNBC Select offers tips and tricks for how you can save big on your upcoming wedding.

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Congratulations on one of the most special days of your life! Now prepare to spend more money than you ever have before.

The average cost of a wedding is expected to hit a new high of over $30,000 in 2024, according to Zola's First Look Report. And that figure doesn't even include an engagement ring. But did you know there are some simple steps you can take to save thousands of dollars on your wedding?

If you play your cards right, you could save enough money and earn extra rewards to go on your honeymoon for almost free. That will help take some of the sting out of the alarming amount of money you'll drop on your wedding.

Here are ten tips and tricks you can follow to recoup value from your wedding-related spending.

How to save money on your wedding

Start saving for your wedding early

The first step in planning your wedding should be to set a budget and start building your savings. A high-yield savings account or certificate of deposit (CD) account can be a great place to keep your money safe, while also earning interest. These accounts can grow your money faster than a traditional savings account because you'll earn a higher APY.

There are several high-yield savings accounts currently offering interest rates above 5%, such as the UFB Secure Savings account, with an up to 5.25% APY and no cap and or minimum deposit requirement. CDs sometimes offer even greater interest rates, but you'll need to keep your money locked into the account for a specified amount of time.

UFB Secure Savings

UFB Secure Savings is offered by Axos Bank, a Member FDIC.
  • Annual Percentage Yield (APY)

    Earn up to 5.25% APY

  • Minimum balance

    None

  • Monthly fee

    None

  • Maximum transactions

    No max number of transactions; max transfer amounts may apply

  • Excessive transactions fee

    None

  • Overdraft fee

    Overdraft fees may be charged, according to the terms, but a specific amount is not specified; overdraft protection service available

  • Offer checking account?

    Yes

  • Offer ATM card?

    Yes

  • Terms apply.

Plan your wedding during “off-season” dates

January, February and March are generally considered the wedding off-season — though it can vary by location.

You can save a great deal on your venue and various other expenses by getting married at unpopular times. Similarly, you can save significantly by having your wedding on a weekday, as opposed to the weekend.

Wedding vendors would rather offer their services for a discount instead of having no customers at all. Just note that spending on catering and flowers is likely not going to be as discounted as other expenses like the venue and music.

Pay with the right credit card whenever possible

Nearly all wedding expenses can be funneled through credit cards. From the venue to the food to the wedding photographer, inquire straight away as to whether a credit card is an acceptable form of payment.

It can be wise to use more than one credit card during your planning. Weddings are expensive, so determining which cards will give you the best return on your purchase can be a difference of hundreds of dollars in value. For example:

American Express® Gold Card

On the American Express secure site
  • Rewards

    4X Membership Rewards® points at Restaurants (plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.) and at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X), 3X points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com, 1X points on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

  • Annual fee

    $250

  • Intro APR

    Not applicable

  • Regular APR

    See Pay Over Time APR

  • Balance transfer fee

    N/A

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

  • See rates and fees, terms apply.

 

Citi Custom Cash® Card

On Citi's secure site
  • Rewards

    5% cash back on purchases in top eligible spend category each billing cycle, up to the first $500 spent (then 1%); unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn $200 in cash back after you spend $1500 on purchases in the first 6 months of account opening. This bonus offer will be fulfilled as 20,000 ThankYou® points, which can be redeemed for $200 cash back.

  • Annual fee

    $0

  • Intro APR

    0% APR on balance transfers and purchases for first 15 months

  • Regular APR

    19.24% - 29.24% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    5% of each balance transfer ($5 minimum)

  • Foreign transaction fee

    3%

  • Credit needed

    Excellent, Good, Fair

  • See rates and fees. Terms apply.

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

On Chase’s secure site
  • Rewards

    Earn 5X total points on flights and 10X total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3X points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases plus, 10X points on Lyft rides through March 2025

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $900 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

  • Annual fee

    $550

  • Intro APR

    None

  • Regular APR

    22.49% - 29.49% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    5%, minimum $5

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    Excellent

  • Terms apply.

 

Also, consider making large payments with a credit card that offers flexible financing. Rewards credit cards often have cripplingly high interest rates — the average APR for all credit card accounts is well above 20% at the time of this writing, according to the Federal Reserve. You could save hundreds of dollars by putting that spending on a card that offers a 0% APR intro period to give yourself a year or so to pay it off interest-free.

Many of the best zero-interest credit cards offer a 0% intro APR of 15 months or more. For example, the Wells Fargo Reflect® Card offers a 0% intro APR for 21 months from account opening on purchases and qualifying balance transfers (18.24%, 24.74%, or 29.99% variable APR afterward). Balance transfers must be made in the first 120 days to qualify for the intro APR and there is a balance transfer fee of 5% of the amount you transfer ($5 minimum)

Wells Fargo Reflect® Card

On Wells Fargo's secure site
  • Rewards

    None

  • Welcome bonus

    None

  • Annual fee

    $0

  • Intro APR

    0% intro APR for 21 months from account opening on purchases and qualifying balance transfers.

  • Regular APR

    18.24%, 24.74%, or 29.99% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers

  • Balance transfer fee

    5%, min: $5

  • Foreign transaction fee

    3%

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

See rates and fees. Terms apply.

Earn a sign-up bonus

If you know you’ll be making many thousands of dollars in purchases, it’s a great time to earn a welcome offer (or two).

There are tons of credit cards with big sign-up bonuses. With a costly wedding on the horizon, you should have no problem meeting considerable minimum spending requirements. For example, if you’ve got the national average of $30,000 in wedding expenses, you could take advantage of these welcome offers:

Between these welcome bonuses, you can earn at least around $3,000 worth of rewards — and potentially much more if know the best ways to redeem your Chase Ultimate Rewards® points, Capital One miles and American Express Membership Rewards® points. You could very easily fund a five-star honeymoon with a stash of points this size.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

On Chase's secure site
  • Rewards

    Enjoy benefits such as 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining, select streaming services and online groceries, 2x on all other travel purchases, 1x on all other purchases, and $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, plus more.

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

  • Annual fee

    $95

  • Intro APR

    None

  • Regular APR

    21.49% - 28.49% variable on purchases and balance transfers

  • Balance transfer fee

    Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

  • Terms apply.

 

The Platinum Card® from American Express

On the American Express secure site
  • Rewards

    Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year, 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel, 1X points on all other eligible purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $8,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Apply and select your preferred metal Card design: classic Platinum Card®, Platinum x Kehinde Wiley, or Platinum x Julie Mehretu.

  • Annual fee

    $695

  • Intro APR

    None

  • Regular APR

    See Pay Over Time APR

  • Balance transfer fee

    N/A

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit Needed

    Excellent/Good

  • See rates and fees, terms apply.

Earn hotel points (if your venue is a hotel)

You don’t have to book hotel stays — or even open hotel credit cards — to earn a stockpile of hotel points. Most major hotel chains allow you to earn rewards for hosting your wedding at one of their event spaces:

  • Hilton Honors — 1X point per dollar spent on guest rooms, meeting rooms and more on qualifying events at participating hotels in the Hilton portfolio (on up to $100,000 of your bill).
  • IHG One Rewards — 3X points on events, food and beverage and rooms booked for others (up to 60,000 points per event)
  • Marriott Bonvoy — 2X points on eligible room, food, beverage and audio/visual charges (up to 60,000 points per event or up to 105,000 points for Titanium Elite and Ambassador Elite members)
  • per dollar (60,000 points max, though status holders can earn more)
  • World of Hyatt — 1X point on events (up to 50,000 points per event)

In some cases, you may have to stipulate that you want to earn points when signing your contract.

Hotel points cannot be liquidated for cash, but they can save you a lot of money on hotel stays later, such as on your honeymoon.

Don’t be afraid to negotiate

Most things in life are negotiable, including your bills, salary, real estate and even wedding expenses.

Whether it’s your venue or various vendors (flowers, music, cake, etc.), you can challenge prices and make lower offers. Wedding taxes are no joke. If the vendors don’t want your business, they don’t have to oblige. Just be sure you’ve got an acceptable backup plan — or the humility to revoke your lower proposal — if the vendors won’t budge.

Rent as much as you can

You’d probably be surprised at the number of things you can rent for your wedding. Obvious items are things like tables, chairs, flatware, and tents. But you can also rent wedding dresses, tuxedos, bridesmaid dresses and even jewelry. This could be the difference between spending several thousand dollars and several hundred dollars.

Take advantage of gift registry sign-up bonuses

Gift registries often come with some manner of bonus for joining. You’ll probably get free knickknacks upfront, but you’ll sometimes be incentivized to add certain items to your registry. 

For instance, Crate & Barrel’s registry throws in all sorts of bonus gifts depending on how much of your registry is purchased. At the time of this writing, you can get an All-Clad Cook and Serve Tool Set ($100 value) after completing $800 or more in All-Clad products on your registry or a toughened Nonstick PRO 11" Crepe Pan with Rateau ($100 value) and Cerise Enameled Cast Iron Signature Wok ($300 value) after completing $1,500 or more in Le Creuset products on your registry.

Add items to your gift registry (even if you don’t think people will buy them)

Speaking of registries, here’s a nice little hack: As a condolence of sorts, certain stores will discount the remaining items in your registry that weren’t bought. This is called a registry completion discount. Depending on the store at which you’ve registered, you could see a discount of up to 25%.

Even if you’re confident the items on your registry won’t be purchased by your friends and family, add them anyway so you can then buy them for significantly less yourself.

Consider taking out a wedding loan

If you need additional help financing your wedding, it might make sense to take out a personal loan that you can use to pay for wedding expenses. Personal loans often have lower interest rates than credit cards, and you can use them to finance nearly every kind of expense.

CNBC Select picked LightStream as the top overall wedding loan lender because of its low interest rates, lack of fees and flexible terms. You can also match with lenders that best fit your needs with our personal loan marketplace.

LightStream Personal Loans

  • Annual Percentage Rate (APR)

    7.49% - 25.49%* APR with AutoPay

  • Loan purpose

    Debt consolidation, home improvement, auto financing, medical expenses, and others

  • Loan amounts

    $5,000 to $100,000

  • Terms

    24 to 144 months* dependent on loan purpose

  • Credit needed

    Good

  • Origination fee

    None

  • Early payoff penalty

    None

  • Late fee

    None

Terms apply. *AutoPay discount is only available prior to loan funding. Rates without AutoPay are 0.50% points higher. Excellent credit required for lowest rate. Rates vary by loan purpose.

Compare offers to find the best loan

Bottom line

Weddings are already intrinsically stressful. But as you can see, there are plenty of steps you can take to mitigate the financial burden associated with the big day. By doing things like opening credit cards to earn a few welcome bonuses, maximizing bonus categories for expenses, and leveraging gift registry promotions, you could receive many thousands of dollars in value.

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Why trust CNBC Select?

At CNBC Select, our mission is to provide our readers with high-quality service journalism and comprehensive consumer advice so they can make informed decisions with their money. Every personal finance guide is based on rigorous reporting by our team of expert writers and editors with extensive knowledge of financial productsWhile CNBC Select earns a commission from affiliate partners on many offers and links, we create all our content without input from our commercial team or any outside third parties, and we pride ourselves on our journalistic standards and ethics.

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For rates and fees of the American Express® Gold Card, click here.

For rates and fees of the Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.
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