I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do

Going to the chapel costs as much as buying one these days, but these credit unions are helping brides plan smart and overcome the sticker shock.

From the time they are young girls, many women dream of their wedding day, and social platforms like Pinterest allow some of us to plan every detail before we even find the most important detail the groom (guilty!). Despite all the daydreams and best-laid plans, few of us are prepared for the financial burden that comes along with our ideal day. And with good reason, wedding costs are astronomical.

When I got engaged in December, I was ecstatic to sit down with my mom and sisters to begin planning. Googling wedding budget, however, quickly wiped the smile from my face. In just moments I went from feeling hope and joy to feeling completely overwhelmed with the cost associated with my big day.

According to an article in the Huffington Post, the average cost of a wedding in 2012 was $28,427. The median cost which accounts for the outlying ultra-swanky or smartly budgeted events still tops out at $18,086. I think we can all agree the average, or median, bride and her family do not have $18,000 to $28,000 sitting in savings for a single day.

What’s a bride to do? If she’s a member of one of the credit unions below, she’s got options. Here’s a few ways you can help your own brides-to-be.

Teach Financial Education

My fianc and I are lucky to come from families that teach the importance of savings. We have money tucked away for emergency situations as well as special events and celebrations. This means we aren’t putting vacations and other big-ticket items on credit cards. Empower Federal Credit Union ($1.2B, Syracuse, NY) has an online Financial Literacy Resource Center that teaches families how to save for expensive milestones such as college and weddings so they can avoid taking on debt or selling the proverbial farm.

Offer A Great Wedding Loan (And Throw In A Few Perks)

If the bride, groom, or their families don’t have adequate savings, they might be looking for a niche loan to bridge the gap. Because we have other options, my fianc and I are not taking out a loan to pay for our wedding. However, the 4.6% of all credit union loans that reside in the other unsecured loans do include a wedding loan or two, which demonstrates the assistance members still need to cover the cost of weddings and other large life events. After a quick search, I found a wedding loan through Mid-Atlantic Federal Credit Union ($268.7M, Germantown, MD) that offers some nice perks. In addition to the low interest rate and a five-year payback period, members also receive a $100 Target gift card, a one-hour consultation with a local wedding planner, and no payments on the anniversary month.

Wedding Registry Accounts

This is a new concept to me. Many credit unions, such as Heritage Federal Credit Union ($454.3M, Newburgh, IN) offer wedding registry accounts that wedding guests can use to deposit cash directly for the couple. If a member is getting a wedding loan, a Wedding Registry Account would complement it nicely.

Of course, weddings are not the only major life event for which your members are planning that just happens to be the one on my mind. Regardless of what it is, these events are a great way for credit unions to demonstrate their lifelong member support. Take this opportunity to be there when your members need you.

And lastly, if anyone has a wedding tip that will help me save some money, please leave it in the comments.

March 21, 2014

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