6 Ways Couples Can Embrace the Financial Silver Lining of a Cancelled Wedding

By Lindsay Tigar, Her Money from Jean Chatzky  featuring Julia K. Pham, CFP®, AIF®, CDFA®, Wealth Advisor at Halbert Hargrove

A cancelled wedding is no one’s idea of a good time, but the experience can have positive financial benefits — here’s how to embrace the upside.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has rocked nearly all marketplaces, one of the hardest-hit has been the wedding industry. Large gatherings are still outlawed in many states, which has led to cancelled weddings, and thousands of happy couples nationwide having to postpone saying “I do” in front of all their friends and loved ones.

Of course altering or canceling your big day (in many cases, long after “save the dates” and invitations have been sent out) can be quite the emotional struggle — it’s a day many of us dream of for a lifetime, and we desperately want it to go as planned! If you’ve had to cancel your wedding, there are still some silver linings to be found amidst the chaos… And some of them could seriously benefit your bottom line as you start your life together. Here’s a look at a few of them.

YOU HAVE LONGER TO SAVE. 

One of the most frustrating aspects of the pandemic is not having an ‘end date’ to when life as we knew it will return. Will we safely be able to have weddings in 2021, or will we need to look toward 2022? Regardless of how long the wait ends up being, the good news is that we have more time to save, according to Christina Lucey, financial advocate and the director of product for Credit Karma.

Say you and your spouse-to-be planned to wed in April of 2020, but now you’ve rebooked for June of 2021. That gives you fourteen additional months to stow away cash. “You should agree on a certain dollar amount to deposit into a savings account each day, week or month, so reaching your savings goal feels more attainable,” Lucey explains. She also suggests putting your savings into a high yield savings account where your money can earn interest and grow over time.

YOU MAY BE ABLE TO AFFORD THE HONEYMOON OF YOUR DREAMS.

When planning your wedding pre-pandemic, did you and your partner decide to forgo the honeymoon since it was too expensive, or maybe take a scaled-back ‘weekend away’ rather than a full-blown love expedition? A cancelled wedding can mean more time to manage your money and build an aggressive savings plan, you may be able to afford this once-in-a-lifetime getaway, according to Julia Pham, a wealth advisor at Halbert Hargrove. In fact, it could be even less expensive than you originally thought, since the travel industry is doing all it can to boost sales.

“Many airlines and hotels are offering great deals with flexible rescheduling and cancellation policies to entice buyers. Now might be a good time to consider locking in that deal at that resort you have been dying to visit,” she continues.

And yes, while most of the world is currently closed to U.S. Citizens, there are many deals offered all the way into 2021. “Just make sure to read the fine print, and ensure that the cancellation policies are flexible enough to meet your needs,” she say.

YOU CAN GROW CLOSER AS A COUPLE.

Fess up: have you and that person you’re about to marry gotten naked together… financially? It may not sound as sexy as a romantic date night, but being vulnerable about money is an important part of intimacy. Brent Weiss, CFP, the chief evangelist at Facet Wealth says many couples don’t have ‘the money talk’ before they join into a lifetime marital agreement. Sure, saying vows is often a religious and/or emotional experience, but on a practical level, it’s also a legal agreement. A silver lining of a cancelled wedding is having extra time to have these meaningful — and vital — conversations about where you are today financially, and where you’d like to be, together.

“Use this time to discuss how much you want to spend and maybe how much you want to save for other goals you have as a couple like starting a family, buying a home, paying down student loans, whatever,” he says. “Remember, your current financial situation is not your ultimate destination. Commit to achieving those goals together.”

YOU CAN TAKE A DIFFERENT, MORE INTIMATE APPROACH.

When you dreamt about your big day, you probably had a vision in mind. A specific dress, your favorite flowers, or the most perfect day in spring. But the virus has made many of us realize what’s truly important to us, and now that you’re thinking about “Plan B,” you may have a new perspective on what really matters on your big day.

Dr. Roshawnna Novellus, CEO of EnrichHER, encourages couples to take this time to really think about what they want out of a wedding — and what’s now unnecessary. “Maybe the chance to regroup has convinced you you don’t need a professional makeup artist, but you do want a gourmet meal,” she says. “Maybe you realized that the thing you want most when this is all over is to be in a beautiful place — in person — with your nearest and dearest. If that’s the case, scrap the banquet hall and big guest list and do it destination-style with a smaller group.”

It’s okay to change your mind and absolutely all of your plans — flexibility is the name of the game in 2020.

YOU CAN LEAN ON ONE ANOTHER.

The decision to spend and build your life with another human is one of the most critical choices you’ll ever make. And if you can’t lean on each other in the middle of chaos (like a cancelled wedding), then why are you getting married in the first place? The ability to work as a team to navigate their new wedding plans brought Rachel Johnson and her husband John Burns closer than ever. They planned on exchanging vows on July 25, 2020, and ended up rescheduling to a week later on August 5, 2020. They had change venues since their original choice filed for bankruptcy, taking their 50% deposit with them… Though the couple isn’t sure if they’ll ever get that investment back, many of their vendors were able to adjust for a smaller, more intimate celebration, rather than the large formal wedding they planned. All of the changes have made them stronger as a couple — and grateful for their love.

“You spend many months preparing all the details for your big day, and when that is taken away from you, whether rescheduled or canceled, it’s heartbreaking. Make sure to remember what is important, which is the love between you and your partner. No matter what, you will be married, and you will celebrate your moment even though it may be altered a bit from your original plan,” Johnson shares. “If you need to cry, cry. If you need to scream, scream. And then center yourself and move forward. It will all work out in the end.”

YOU CAN PUT WEDDING MONEY TOWARD OTHER LIFE GOALS.

When you return to the drawing board after a cancelled wedding, it’s a great time to think about your path toward other life goals. When do you want to purchase a home? Have a child? Go on that year-long adventure around the world? As Lauren Anastasio, a CFP at SoFi puts it, while a wedding is probably the most important thing on your mind right now, it’s likely not the only plan you have for your life together. That mental shift is important and can help to provide optimism in a tough time. “Regardless of whether scaling back was voluntary or involuntary, the result is that you reduced some costs associated with the day. Rather than feeling like you lost out on something, appreciate the fact that you actually have a head start on your next goal,” she explains.

Consider this: Maybe for now you make your marriage official at a courthouse and then use your leftover funds to take advantage of cheaper mortgage rates right now. Then, in a few years’ time, you host a major party at your home to toast your marriage and your status as homebuyers.

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