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Home » Gift Giving, Live, Save Money

Crowdfund your Wedding! Here’s How to do it.

Last updated by on 18 Comments

Yo, fiancés – I have some great money saving advice for you, so listen up!

You know that $40,000 wedding you are planning? Yep, the one that you want to comfortably be above the $30,000 average wedding cost, so as to not appear to be cheap.

That’s a good chunk of change. So… why pay for it? I mean, sure, you could put it on a credit card and pay for it later, of course. But that’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about why pay for it at all? Got your attention? Good.

So here’s the deal. You know those crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter, IndieGogo, and GoFundMe? Why not just toss your wedding up on one of them – blast your email list (er… friends and family) and have them all pay for it?! That’s right, crowdfund your wedding!

If you get lucky or simply guilt spam everyone enough times, you might even be able to upgrade from t-bone steaks to filet mignon and hire a videographer to perfectly complement your two photographers. And that guest list of 200? Why not push it to 300? Sure, your five “besty” drinking buddies from the dorms went missing right about the same time your dearest fiancé came around, but this would be the perfect time to get the old gang back together!

I’ll even give you a script for your first email to send out to everyone:

“Dearest XYZ,

As you are probably aware, <fill in blank> and I are getting married! We would really like to invite you to share in this most special of moments. But, there’s a problem. We’ve been buying lots of stuff to fill in the two empty rooms in our new condo and have racked up some serious credit card debt. Daddy is chipping in $20K, but sadly, we can no longer get approved for new credit cards to finance the rest of our fairy tale day.

Here is where you come in. We’re offering you the once in a lifetime opportunity to help us pay for our very special day. We are crowdfunding our wedding! We are asking everyone we know for a donation and we remembered you! We’re starting contributions off at a $100 minimum level. However, for a limited time, those who contribute $250 will get a picture taken with the bride and groom. At the $500+ level, we will screenprint that photo on the front of a commemorative “I helped fund this” porcelain plate (limited run of 200 planned). Also, keep in mind that GoFundMe charges a 7.9% + $0.30/transaction fee + $0.30, so we won’t get all of what you donate (in other words, bump it up a little to compensate – don’t be stingy!). Please hurry and contribute! (seriously, we’ve got a few minimum credit card payments we need to cover ASAP, so don’t delay).

With love,

Us”

crowdfund weddingTrust me, this is the ONLY way. What’s the alternative? Cutting the first class seats out of your 5-star, 3-week, all-inclusive, margaritas on the beach honeymoon in the Caribbean?!

Finally… and this is important… as every hard earned donation from your family, friends, acquaintances, middle school teachers, and hair stylists comes in, if you ever encounter any doubts around your mission, just look in the mirror and repeat to yourself, “You. Deserve. This.” It works like a Jedi mind trick, trust me.

Hopefully, your sarcasm radar is not broken and have already figured out that you should probably do the exact opposite of everything I’ve outlined above.

Unfortunately, crowdfunding weddings has become a real thing. And GoFundMe has seen at least “1,500 wedding-related campaigns since 2010″.

As you can imagine, there is a spectrum of tackiness that goes in to a crowfunded wedding campaigns.

On the far right end of the spectrum, you have stories like “Detroit resident Elizabeth Rodriquez, 22, and her fiancé Otoniel Cabrera, 26, turned to crowdfunding site GoFundMe in January – soon after Cabrera lost his job, leaving him out of work for months. So far, the couple has raised around $4,200 from seven donors, which will go towards their $28,000 wedding in April 2015.”

Did you catch the bolded part there?

On the other end of the spectrum, you have a “broke couple”, also highlighted in the story, who “Ask that any money you would spend on a gift goes towards our wedding expenses… hoping to stick to a $3,000 budget”. A donation to make a frugal wedding happen, in place of a material gift? OK, now that is something I could convince myself to get behind.

The latter scenario highlights the three essential ingredients to successfully pulling off a crowdfunded wedding campaign without having all of your invitees hate your guts:

  1. It has to be a bare-bones, cheap as possible wedding. Extravagant or high costs defeat good will.
  2. You should have zero ability to finance it yourself.
  3. Notify and reinforce that any contributions are in place of (not in addition to) a traditional wedding gift. No registry, and no double dipping. You can’t dip the chip, take a bite, and then dip again. Sorry, Costanza.

My wife and I were very fortunate to receive unsolicited support for our inexpensive wedding (which we kept under $2,500). And I don’t mean to diminish the tough financial situations that many young couples are in, but I think it’s important to remember the following before launching a crowdfunded wedding:

  1. This is your wedding. Nobody owes you anything. And you don’t owe them anything.
  2. American weddings are mostly a series of very costly and shallow corporate marketing manufactured traditions – be creative and create your own (much more inexpensive and meaningful) special day – it will mean more to you in the long run.
  3. If you can’t afford to cover your wedding yourself, you’re spending too much.
  4. It is quite admirable to push ego and other people’s expectations aside and simply down to the courthouse.

Whatever you decide, you are only setting the standard for your marriage. No pressure.

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About the Author
I am G.E. Miller, & this is my story. My goal is financial independence ASAP. If you share that goal, join me & 7,500+ others by getting FREE email updates. You'll also find every post by category & every post in order.


18 Comments »
  • Jason773 says:

    This was good GE.

    It’s not much of a surprise that millenial men are not very interested in modern marriage and it’s predicted that 1/3 of all millenial women will be umarried at 40 http://money.cnn.com/2014/07/20/news/economy/millennials-marriage/

    If a guy is actually stupid enough to marry an American girl in 2014 ‘Merica! then at the most you should be heading down to the courthouse and getting it done in a timely fashion. If she isn’t willing to do that then you probably shouldn’t be marrying her anyways (seriously, think about it, damn the excuses), but hell, it’s not like thirsty guys are actually going to take this advice so might as well YOLO and max out the visa and mastercard.

    • Tom says:

      The same study said that married couples generally do better financially. Seems kind of backwards to me to be branding marriage with the “YOLO” tag and big expenditures…

      In the end weddings are about launching marriages. Frugality is a great thing, but not at the expense of the celebration IMHO. Great post, just wanted to look at it from the other side :)

      I’d be curious if there is a “more wedding money spend, more marriage problems” statistic out there…

      • Jason773 says:

        Tom,

        Yes, married couples can do better with a lower COGs, that’s a given, but I think that’s more of a casual relationship than a direct correlation. The average age of marriage for men and women is now late 20s, and that is also the time when adults start to get established in their careers and start earning more/investing/purchasing a house.

        The main point though is that marriage rates are declining across the board, with some demographics being hit harder than others. This is due to a number of reasons, but I think a major one is that men currently <40 are wise to the trappings of modern marriage (no fault divorce, partial to complete loss of children in the courts, lack of traditional role). I'm not totally against marriage, and it can be great under the right conditions, but those conditions are continually harder to find for young American men. Marriage is an emotional act, not a rational one under current conditions, especially if you are a man with a semblance of his chit together. This is a solid book if you are interested in this at all http://http://www.amazon.com/Men-Strike-Boycotting-Marriage-Fatherhood/dp/1594036756

        As for your question, I would venture to guess that there is a correlation between the two with my only evidence being anecodtal. Large weddings are mostly for the bride-to-be's ego (basically all guys I've ever talked to would be fine with something tiny or a courthouse date), and a princess attitude does not bode well for marriage happiness, just like an abusive/domineering attitude from a male would not bode well.

        • Tom says:

          The book looks interesting, thanks for the recommendation.

          After reading the summary and nothing else, my gut reaction (being the dissident that I am) is that if men are blaming society for their lack of initiative then they are indeed men on strike. Still, it can be tough to sort between societal and individual responsibility. Looks like an interesting read, I’ll add it to my list.

          Also, I see your link and I’ll match it. This is from my 2nd favorite blog (20somethingfinance is first of course!)

          http://www.artofmanliness.com/2014/06/09/semper-virilis-a-roadmap-to-manhood-in-the-21st-century/

        • Marilyra says:

          My fiancée and I are getting married so I start looking and browsing on the internet. In the Netherlands (where I’m from) an average wedding cost around €16000 (circa 20000 dollar)! As a young woman I was shocked (coming from a upper middle-class family). You could save the money and do something more useful with it. I’m not willing (or asking anyone) to pay €1200 or more on a dress, pay €400 on a special wedding cake, €200 on bouquet etc. No way.

          My perfect wedding is an intimate wedding in the woods in Germany/Norway/Wales. Sharing this beautiful day (rain or sunshine) with the (20) most important people in our lives. No dress codes or etiquettes, just good feeling and having a wonderful time.

          But my husband to be want to invite his whole family (aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces, their spouses and children), old friends etc. Not because he is more social and wants to share the happy moments with everyone but I sense it’s mostly out of fear. He thinks if we do not organise a larger wedding everyone will be upset. And there is also direct/indirect social pressure and subtle manipulation going on.

          Women in general (but also men!) are really sensitive about this.
          You have to deliver a fairytale. You have to invite a whole castle. You have to wear an expansive white princess dress. You have to throw money at it to show that you truly love one another* or everyone will be disappointed (as my grandma was with the very minimalistic wedding of my sister).

          Personally, I feel it’s very shallow and insincere. But how I wanted a wedding is also expensive and hard because of the large amount of paperwork (bureaucracy). So we are still looking for alternatives. But one thing is for sure we are not going in debt for our special day.

          *Look at all those programs on television “Say yes to dress”, “Four weddings”,”Bridezilla” etc. And the romantic Disney movies we grow up with. Horrible but pretty illusions, aren’t they? ;-)

          • Mike says:

            Check out my post below about my upcoming wedding. We are having a private/planned elopement half way across the country (wedding in California and I’m from Wisconsin). We ran into some hurt feelings about family not being at the wedding, but ultimately it is our day. We let our family understand that. It’s not that we don’t want them there but we don’t want to overspend on a wedding that won’t live up to the world’s standards and deal with all the drama. We are going to have an AMAZING wedding alone which will save us money and make it mean so much more for us. Don’t get us wrong though, we aren’t doing it soley on the money aspect. Neither of us are really social, and the thought of a couple hundred people’s attention on the bride and I is pretty overwhelming and wouldn’t allow us to enjoy ourselves. It’s a win-win all the way around for us.

            A trick we did was to make most of the wedding plans before we announced we were engaged so that it would be harder for us to change things in case we felt guilty about not including our family. A book that helped me along this process is called “Boundaries” by Henry Cloud.

      • Jason773 says:

        Also to be balanced, I believe there is plenty of blame to go around to young men as well, but I firmly believe that people are driven by incentives, and the incentives for men to marry have been greatly decreasing. If not for large demographics of the US being guided by a semi-Chrisitan compass I think marriage rates would have plummeted by now.

  • Zee says:

    if you’re trying to crowd source a 30k wedding I would laugh…. Why don’t I just crowd source my house? To me, a 30k wedding and crowd sourcing a house is pretty much the same thing in my mind, I would never help that cause. But if it were the 3k wedding, I would actually get behind that one.

  • Mike says:

    My fiance and I are getting married this fall in Big Sur, California. We are in our mid-20s. We both wanted a small/private wedding and both agreed that we don’t want to spend much money on it. We think that weddings are way to commercialized and people have large weddings in order to keep up with the Joneses. We have planned our wedding on a $6,500 budget.

    We are on target to hit our budget. We still feel like we are having an extravagent wedding. It’s going to be just the two of us at the wedding. We are staying in Big Sur at Glen Oaks hotel for 4 days/nights. Getting married inside of a Coastal Redwood forest along the Pacific Ocean. We have a great photographer (who was our largest expense at $1,000). We are also staying in San Francisco for 4 nights at a cheaper hotel in a good area of town. With a San Francisco City Pass we get to go to ALL of the attractions we wanted to go to plus free city transportation for one low cost of $85/person (otherwise it would be $150+/person). We also have a rental car and flights. My fiance is flying to NY the week before to have a “bachelorette” party with her sister, and that trip is also included in this budget.

    This is what we wanted. No drama from others telling us what we should do. We actually had the whole wedding planned before we told anyone so they felt like they had less of a chance to talk us into something else. There were some feelings hurt that they wouldn’t be able to attend the wedding, but those feelings pass after a few weeks when you explain to them that it’s your wedding.

  • Charles says:

    I’m going to come out in defense of crowd funding a wedding. Big parties are a lot of fun, and weddings are a great reason to bring a lot of people together to celebrate. Unfortunately they are also really expensive, and too many young people start off their marriage in financial distress from over spending on the party. Crowd funding could be a way to have the big party without the financial distress.
    For a couple who met in their late 20′s, they likely have 2 fully furnished places to live. Why should you set up a registry for stuff you don’t need, when you could just have your guests pay the price to attend the celebration? In addition, having a price for entry allows you to invite that very large circle of friends you’ve developed by being single into your late 20′s without worrying about the price tag.
    This seems both financially responsible and fun, so I’m a little surprised that this blog wouldn’t be more supportive of the idea (although we can all agree 28,000 is a little too much… unless you have 2,800 guests in which case rock on!)

    • Tom says:

      Yeah, it seems like GE’s outrage is more to do with the price tag than the methodology. I can certainly respect people who have a small, cheap wedding, but I agree that weddings are a celebration. Frankly, I also think that it is crucial to have people there to witness the union, provide community support, and pledge their willingness to encourage and uphold the vows taken. A good marriage requires commitment from the bride and groom AND their supporting cast.

      That being said, some celebrations certainly have large, unnecessary expenditures. Wisdom and temperance, even during celebrations, is something to be lauded.

      With all that being said, crowdfunding a wedding could make sense. I know some couples that have set their registry up to pay for their honeymoon instead of more stuff. It doesn’t seem like much of a stretch to apply that principal to the wedding. A lot of cheap weddings usually involve some community support anyhow to help cook, decorate, etc.

  • Noah says:

    Funny and interesting article! Now that we’re in wedding season, people worry about affording their one-time events that always exceed the budget limit. I agree that if you are going to ask for wedding donations, you should keep it small and modest. But if that doesn’t fit your dream wedding, then you can always delay the event. One of my friends recently held his ceremony despite the fact that they already registered last year. They have been saving for a year to have the wedding that they both wanted. It takes time, but patience always pays off.

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