weddingThere’s no doubt about it; weddings are expensive. The average wedding costs between $18,000 and $28,000 and more couples are now chipping in or paying for the whole thing themselves rather than relying on the bride’s parents.

A survey in 2009 also found that 58% of engaged women planned to use their credit card to cover at least some of the expenses of the wedding. It’s never a good idea to go into credit card debt — even for your wedding! — although there are some smart ways to use your credit card to cover some wedding expenses.

Earn Rewards for the Honeymoon

If you do plan to use your credit card, make sure you use one with a low interest rate (we always recommend against carrying a balance when trying to earn rewards) and look for a card that earns you rewards.

You can opt for cash back or even travel rewards, which can go a long way toward covering the expenses of your honeymoon. Along with earning miles to cover part of the honeymoon travel, you can also earn airfare or hotel upgrades as well as free car rentals once you get there.

Important: Avoid wedding-themed credit cards as most have high interest rates and little to offer when it comes to real benefits.

Get Valuable Purchase Protection

Half of a wedding budget is usually drinks, food for guests and the reception itself. Still, the cost of the dress itself can also be up there. It’s actually a good idea to cover the down payment on the wedding dress and other large purchases with your credit card so you can be protected with Purchase Protection.

From the American Express site: When you charge a covered purchase with your Card, the Purchase Protection1 protects that item if it is stolen or accidentally damaged, including vandalism. You are covered up to $1,000 per Occurrence, up to $50,000 per Card account per policy year. The Purchase Protection is in EXCESS of other sources of indemnity.

Make sure your card has this feature and you can withhold payment if a product is damaged or of interior quality.

Don’t Start Your Marriage in Debt!

As you can see, there are a few good reasons to cover some of those big wedding expenses with the plastic. Still, it’s absolutely vital that you begin with a realistic budget in mind and a plan to pay the debt off. Having a payoff plan in place beforehand is vital if you are planning on carrying a balance.

Remember: Money problems are the leading cause of divorce and no one wants to start their marriage with a lot of credit card debt. Ideally, you have all of the money together to pay for the wedding so you can just use your credit cards to earn rewards and then pay the balance in full to avoid interest.

Best Credit Cards to Use for a Wedding

If you do decide to use a credit card for the wedding, shop around and find one that offers a good interest rate (if you aren’t going to pay in full) or great rewards that will either earn you money back or travel rewards to use for the honeymoon.

You should also check out our best credit cards page has an up to date list of the best offers currently on the market. Many cards offer a sign up bonus (ex: $100 bonus cash after spending $500 within the first three months), making a wedding the perfect opportunity to earn rewards.

Note: If you have questions about a certain card, the forum is also a great place to get card advice from the community.

Paying for your wedding with a credit card can be dangerous if you don’t have a budget or a way to pay off the debt once the marriage begins. It’s important to still save up as much money as you can before the wedding and use credit responsibly.

If you’re careful and responsible, you can take advantage of purchase protection and earn great rewards to even pay for that honeymoon. Make sure you shop around and get the best credit card for your needs to avoid entering your marriage laden down with debt!