“My question is short and sweet (or maybe it’s a disaster, but that’s why I’m asking!): Can I pay for my wedding with a credit card? Like everything from the DJ to the venue?”
“This is an awesome question,” Jennifer Brisman told me when I forwarded her this message. In order to provide a comprehensive answer, I also interviewed real people who did, in fact, pay for their weddings with credit cards, as well as a financial expert, because of course we had to talk to someone who understands (like, really understands) money for this question. Here’s what they each had to say.
The Financial Expert’s Take
Priya Malani, the founder of the financial planning firm Stash Wealth, was pretty blunt: “Generally speaking, it’s a very bad idea to put your wedding on a credit card.” She expressed her basic financial tenet: If you don’t have the funds to pay off the bill in full when it’s due at the end of the month, don’t do it. Malani even warns against people assuming they’ll receive the money back in gifts. But more often than not, gifts won’t cover the damage on the credit card. “Don’t bank on wedding gift money to pay back debt you racked up to ‘throw a party,’” she advises. Financially speaking, the damage of credit card interest can end up costing you way more than you wanted to spend on your wedding in the first place.
How should you think of a credit card? Malani puts it this way: “Think of a credit card as a smarter way to spend the money you already have, not as a tool to spend money you do not have.”
Let’s say you do have the money to pay off the card in full when the statement is due. In that case, Malani says you should use a card that provides two to three times the points on wedding purchases or high cash-back—around 3 to 5 percent. “If you are stretching to get the band or DJ of your dreams and need to borrow a small amount that you 100 percent know you can pay off with wedding money, you could consider one of the zero percent teaser cards like Chase Slate, which is typically interest-free for a longer time,” she recommends. (Rates, terms and conditions change, so read the fine print before you sign up for any card!)
But Malani cannot reiterate enough that you need to feel confident that you can pay off the card in full and on time, because once that teaser rate ends, the rate jumps dramatically. She ended with one final piece of advice: “Remember, your wedding is one day, but marriage is a lifetime.”
The Wedding Planner’s Take
It was Jennifer Brisman, an event planner in New York City, who thought this was a great question. But does she think it’s a great idea? Financial tips aside, Brisman told us that the majority of vendors do not take credit cards, and to the extent that they do, they traditionally charge processing fees of 2.5 to 3 percent.
Venues, however, are more likely to take cards without the fees on top because of the size of the transaction, but Brisman also warned about the high interest rates. “As much as we all want the absolute perfect, magical, memorable day, we don’t want to take on debt that takes us years to pay off,” she says. “A wedding is one day. If you are left with debt to tackle over four or five years, you’ll feel terrible.”
Long story short? Brisman also advises against unnecessary debt—unless you can pay off your statement in full and are doing it solely for the points or other perks.
A Real Couple Who Did It
Massachusetts couple Matt and Jenna got married in November 2019 with a 90-person guest list. They paid for the majority of their wedding using a Chase Sapphire credit card, which, at the time, gave them 5 percent back on all purchases. They figured, “If we were going to spend thousands of dollars, we might as well get as many points as possible for our honeymoon.” Pragmatic, no? “Plus, after every swipe we would just look at each other and be like ‘Well, that’s going toward our flight or hotel.’”
But how did they actually use credit cards when many small vendors won’t take them? Welp, Matt and Jenna taught me something new. “Most vendors did not take a credit card payment directly, but we could always use a credit card for digital payments, like Venmo or PayPal.” (But a heads-up, according to Venmo, “Please be aware that payments funded by credit cards are subject to our standard 3 percent fee.”) On the flip side, PayPal puts that fee on your vendor, which is a reason your vendor may not be inclined to accept it. But when it comes to gratuities, like for the photographer and day-of coordinator, the couple said, “Always in cash.”
Weddings are fun, but do you really want to go into major credit card debt when you’re just beginning your life together? Avoid the high-interest credit cards (even if you get points!) if you aren’t 100 percent sure you can pay it off in the next billing cycle. If you can, make sure you consider the extra fees and choose a card with perks that fit your goals. Yep, that was truly a great question.