How to Crowdfund a Wedding
Your boyfriend took you on the perfect date. First, he arrived at your door with a dozen roses. Then, you rode downtown for a candlelit dinner at one of your favorite fancy steakhouses. He ordered a fine Italian wine for you to split. And then — over a decadent chocolate dessert — he kneeled down on one knee and asked you to marry him.
Of course, you said, “Yes.” But the next day, after you’d come down from the excitement of being a future bride, the reality set in. How were the two of you going to afford the wedding?
Gone are the days when, as tradition once dictated, the bride’s family pays for the majority of wedding expenses. Besides, your parents don’t have the money for an extravagant reception. The problem is, neither do you or your fiancé. How can you fund your dream wedding on such a limited budget?
Here’s one option you may not yet have considered: Crowdfunding.
What Is Crowdfunding?
The concept is pretty simple. Crowdfunding a wedding is when you solicit the financial help of your family, friends and maybe even your co-workers to pay for your big event.
Sure, it sounds a bit tacky. But if you’re swimming in student loan debt, or have recently lost your job, it can seem impossible to plan your special day — especially when the average cost of a wedding in America is $26,444. Most couples do spend less than $10,000 on their weddings, but that’s still a lot of cash if you’re in dire financial straits.
When Should You Crowdfund Your Wedding?
Don’t go impulsively calling (or, more likely, texting) your best friends just yet, begging them for money. Sit down with your partner and take a look at your finances. Just because your wealthy investment banker cousin threw a $40,000 reception with an open bar in a glamorous ballroom, doesn’t mean you have to follow in his footsteps. Besides, chances are your friends will feel offended if they find out you’re taking advantage of their contributions to throw the most lavish party possible.
Before you decide to crowdfund, think of ways you can budget the resources you already have. Consider putting together a wedding budget spreadsheet like the template offered at Brideside.com to track how your dollars need to be allocated. Remember, there’s usually no rush to get married immediately. Consider a longer engagement that will give you and your partner time to save up some cash. Maybe, if you have the time, pick up an extra job in the meantime.
Also, there are plenty of ways to cut back on expenses when the time comes to do the planning. Having your wedding on a weekday or a Sunday will be significantly cheaper than if you opt for a Friday or Saturday. You can also save money by buying a discount wedding dress, not going overboard with invitations, skipping the open bar and hiring a DJ — not a live band — to provide the music.
Remember, too, that if you do crowdfund your wedding, you shouldn’t expect your guests to feel obligated to bring wedding gifts. If they do, that’s really generous, but financial assistance for your big party is already a gift in itself. Maybe it’s best to skip the registry.
The bottom line? Sit down with your partner and ask yourselves: Is crowdfunding really necessary?
Still want to host a party, but sincerely lack the means? Read on for ways to make the most of your crowdfunding efforts.
What Are the Best Ways to Go About Crowdfunding?
You’ve made up your mind — crowdfunding is your best option.
Sure, you can contact your potential guests individually and ask them if they’d be willing to help you out. But the easiest, most efficient way may be to make use of technology.
Here are just a few websites and apps you can utilize to streamline your crowdfunding experience:
GoFundMe. This popular fundraising website lets you post your campaign online, share with family and friends on social media, access your money through either check or bank transfer, and post thank-you notes and updates on your personal dashboard. It also has its own mobile app, available for both iOS and Android.
Signing up is free, but beware of the hidden costs — the site deducts a 5% fee from each donation you receive, as well as a 3% processing fee.
IndieGoGo. IndieGoGo is similar to GoFundMe in that you have the opportunity to set up your own socially minded or personal campaign, and that includes crowdfunding for your wedding. The platform offers both fixed and flexible funding options. Fixed funding means you must meet a specific target before you can collect your donations, while flexible funding means you get to keep all of the money you raise, regardless of whether you’ve met your goal.
IndieGoGo also comes in app form for iOS and Android, but its fee structure is the same as GoFundMe.
WonderWe. WonderWe is a great alternative to the other two platforms because the only fee is a 2.9% plus 30-cent credit card transaction fee per donation. The cost to use the WonderWe platform is completely free.
WonderWe is the solution for wedding crowdfunding. It has all of the features of the big name sites, but with something more added in both technology and culture. WonderWe has a very deliberate cultural difference. It embraces traditional values – such as marriage and families. In addition to the campaign and donation features that are common on all sites, WonderWe has added a peer-to-peer feature and a video share feature. WonderWe also uses a technique called a We#code, which lets you come up with a catchy word or phrase that’s like a hashtag and helps your friends and family remember your campaign. The We#code gives your crowdfunding efforts an extra punch, because it makes your fundraiser searchable and provides you with extra branding potential. Couples can create a custom url like wonderwe.com/NathanandJess to easily share campaigns with family and friends. Also, like GoFundMe and IndieGoGo, WonderWe has an app available for iOS and Android.
Here are some tips to maximize your chances of persuading friends and family to chip in.
Tell your love story and make it tug at the heartstrings.
Use media like photographs and videos of you and your partner.
Use rich colors on your fundraising page or social media post.
Thank each contributor, both individually and publicly.
Show you’ve put little effort into your post by using poor spelling or grammar or writing too little.
Use blurry images.
Spam your friends and family with your crowdfunding link.
Try to evoke pity by pleading for money.
The Bottom Line
Whether or not to crowdfund your wedding is a personal decision — and one that not everyone agrees on. Some say to never do it, while others think it’s acceptable in certain situations. Regardless of what you and your partner choose, make sure you carefully weigh the pros and cons.
And remember: At the end of the day, marriage isn’t about all the pomp and circumstance — it’s about spending the rest of your life with the person you love.