Planning a wedding

Decide how much you want to spend on your wedding.

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Where does the average wedding budget go?1,2

Setting a budget for your wedding

Deciding how much to spend on a wedding is a very personal decision. There may be cultural or religious aspects that need to be considered that could influence the cost. Family expectations or traditions can also affect your spending decisions.

To help decide how much you can, or want to, spend on your wedding, consider evaluating your day-to-day budget and savings goals. It can also make sense to find out if your families plan to contribute to the budget. Couples marry later in life today than in the past and are increasingly paying for all or part of their own weddings.3

The style and size of your wedding will likely be dictated by your budget. A courthouse ceremony with an intimate party afterwards? That may be easy to do on a shoestring. A ballroom and sit-down dinner for 300? That is going to cost significantly more.

Next consider how you’re going to come up with the money. Many people use savings, but many also take on some debt in order to have the wedding they want.4

Consider using Fidelity's spending and saving rule of thumb5


50% Essential expenses
This covers housing, food, transportation, health care, child care, student loans and other minimum debt payments.

15% Retirement savings
This percentage includes your individual contributions, along with your employer’s contributions.

5% Short-term savings
This helps you build an emergency fund and cover other unplanned expenses.

After you've covered your essential expenses, saved for retirement, and set aside some cash for unexpected expenses, any money that’s left over could go into your wedding, honeymoon, and engagement or wedding ring funds.

The honeymoon budget

Honeymoons may come with less cultural weight than weddings. That means that there may be more freedom to do what you want, on your own schedule. It can make sense to start saving for your honeymoon early. If you’re also saving for the wedding at the same time, you may decide to schedule the honeymoon later to make sure you’re able to save enough to take the trip you want.

It may be a good idea to pay cash for your travels so you don’t have to worry about paying off debt. But if you have any credit card miles or points, they may be able to help you pay for your trip.

How much should you spend on engagement and wedding rings?

Views on rings have also evolved with time—particularly engagement rings. Couples may have ethical or financial reasons to pause before spending on jewelry. With women achieving new levels of financial independence, the ritual of a man presenting a woman with an engagement ring may even seem a bit dated to some. Couples today can talk about their preferences and forge new traditions.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with sticking with tradition though it’s important to make sure you’re on the same page about it. There’s no rule about how much you should spend on your engagement ring or wedding bands. (An advertising campaign once suggested that 2 months’ salary would be appropriate for an engagement ring.) But what could make sense is deciding how much you can afford to spend based on your entire financial picture, your taste, and that of your partner’s.

If you still feel unsure, consider this: A recent survey found that for Americans in the middle of the income spectrum, the amount spent on an engagement ring was about 4% of pre-tax, annual income.6 For someone earning $40,000 a year, that comes out to $1,600. You and your partner may decide to spend more or less—or spend the money on something entirely different that suits your priorities.

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