Should we borrow for our daughter’s wedding?

Weddings can be very expensive, with costs amounting to more than $30,000 common in New Zealand.  That can be a significant financial burden for parents and some are tempted to borrow against their house to pay for the big day.  If that is what you are considering, there are some big questions to think about.

Do your homework to avoid the possible pain and stress of two mortgage payments. Analyse your income and employment situation, and put your pencil to the numbers to determine how much wedding you can afford without debt. Talk this over with your daughter and her fiance.

Does the wedding need to cost $30,000?

When our daughter graduated from university, her education fund was changed to the house deposit/wedding fund.  When she got engaged that was a helpful trade-off for her and her fiance to think about.  There was pressure to have a big wedding, but they both wanted to buy a house in the future.  That got them thinking about how they could have a special wedding without making it more difficult to buy a house.

Some of the areas you can look at to save money are:

  1. Do your research on options for purchasing clothing for the wedding party. What can you borrow?  Is a good second hand dress or suit available online?  A friend of our daughter’s had recently purchased a cheap new dress online and was very happy with it.  The cost was just $80 compared with the $3,000 someone we knew paid for a similar dress made locally.
  2. Ask friends to help you crowdsource flowers or consider whether you need flowers? Are there alternatives to flowers?
  3. Photographs and video costs for the wedding can be very expensive. Are friends available to help out?
  4. Venues can be very expensive to hire and may require you to use their catering for the reception. They are usually more attractive settings than your own church facilities, but how important is that.  What is the long-term cost of using an expensive venue?
  5. Are friends willing to volunteer to do the catering or help the caterer to minimise your costs.
  6. Alcohol can be a significant cost. If you choose to have it, you have to decide a limit to how much you are willing to pay.  When do the guests at the wedding need to pay if they want to consume more?
  7. Are there other items, such as the wedding cake and bridal vehicles, which family and friends can help with as a practical wedding gift?

When Jesus told a crowd (Luke 14:25-33) to consider the cost of discipleship.  He gave an illustration: “For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?” This diligence and analysis is necessary for every big decision we face in life.

Frugal weddings are nothing to be ashamed of.  Years ago, a survey suggested that weddings featuring low costs but a high number of guests produced longer lasting marriages than high cost weddings with fewer guests.  That might reflect the level of wider friends and family support before and after the wedding, since many people like to know how they can help out.

Be encouraged and patient. I am not sure how long you have before the big day, but disciplined spending and saving now can help you avoid borrowing. My hope is that this information will help you show the maximum amount of love and support to your daughter and future son-in-law, with the minimal amount of financial stress.

Peter Crawford

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Peter Crawford

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