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  5. I got engaged with a $57 Etsy ring. My fiancé and I both make 6 figures, but we're planning strategically to save $20K for our wedding.

I got engaged with a $57 Etsy ring. My fiancé and I both make 6 figures, but we're planning strategically to save $20K for our wedding.

Viviana Vazquez   

I got engaged with a $57 Etsy ring. My fiancé and I both make 6 figures, but we're planning strategically to save $20K for our wedding.
  • Viviana Vazquez and her fiancé Xavi plan to get married in August 2025 with a wedding budget of $20K.
  • They are very open about finances and are very mindful of each other's financial situations.

Our love story started on the soccer field when we were both students at Baruch College. Xavi was the starting goalie, and I was the team manager.

We started dating in October 2016, got engaged on October 9, 2021, and will marry on August 30, 2025.

I think going into debt for a wedding you can't afford is the worst way to start a marriage. That's why we're having a long engagement: to make planning and saving for our wedding stress-free while balancing other financial responsibilities and still being able to prioritize health, travel, and leisure.

We've had difficult conversations about finances

Xavi and I are very open about finances nowadays, but it wasn't always this way.

Xavi and I were both the first in our families to graduate from college. We didn't know what we wanted to do, but just studied hard, got good grades, and wanted to make our parents proud. We both became teachers in New York City public schools because teaching would give us stability and plenty of time off.

I come from generational poverty, and when I told my parents, who are immigrants from Mexico, about my starting salary of $57,000, they thought I was financially set — or, as they said, "rich." I became my family's breadwinner, paying for our groceries, utility bills, and half the rent.

But at 22, I was financially clueless and had accumulated over $15,000 in student loans and credit card debt. Meanwhile, Xavi was debt-free, saving a ton, and maxing out his 403(b) employee retirement plan.

Xavi didn't know how much I was struggling until 2019 when he brought up moving in together, and I started crying mid-dinner. Despite being together for over two years, I had never brought up my financial situation — or my family's — because I was embarrassed.

I was sure Xavi would break up with me after that conversation, but I was so wrong.

We talked for hours about finances, and he suggested helping me in little ways, like paying for all of our dates and not going out so much so I could focus on paying off my debt.

We got engaged with a $57 Etsy ring

By 2021, I had transitioned out of my teaching job and into a role at a fintech startup in Atlanta. Xavi also decided to quit teaching, moved to Atlanta with me, and started a three-month software engineering boot camp.

During this time, we were living off of my fintech salary — which was also $57,000 — and his savings. We had also been talking about an engagement, but because times were tough, we bought a $57 ring on Etsy to formalize our commitment.

On October 9, 2021, Xavi took me back to the place where we first said "I love you" to each other in 2017: a gondola ride in New Orleans. We watched the sunset, and Xavi proposed with a hand-written love letter I "found" in the lagoon.

We knew it would take a while to become financially stable again, so we agreed on a long engagement so that we could save up. We knew from the start that we'd be paying for the wedding ourselves and wanted to do so without taking on debt or adding any extra stress.

In 2022, we both landed six-figure tech jobs and moved back to New York City. A year later, we were back on our feet and finally felt financially comfortable enough to start saving for our wedding.

Our wedding budget

We have a wedding budget of $20,000, with a guest list of around 120 people.

We chose a destination wedding at a resort in Cancún, Mexico, because we want to share beautiful travel memories with our loved ones, especially since many of my family members have never had the opportunity to travel or stay in an all-inclusive resort before.

To make the budget work, we agreed not to have wedding parties or lavish bachelor and bachelorette parties.

Here's the breakdown of our $20,000 budget:

  • $10,000 for the resort ceremony and reception, which includes a wedding planner, photography, catering, entertainment, and a free stay for the couple. We plan to keep the decor as simple as possible.
  • $1,000 for the rings. We plan on getting simple gold-plated rings because we're not big on flashy jewelry.
  • $2,000 for our wedding attire, including my dress, Xavi's tux, and our shoes and accessories. While I'm excited to try on wedding dresses, I'm not willing to spend more than $1,000 on a dress I'll only wear once.
  • $50 for the marriage license from City Hall in New York.
  • $800 for a family dinner after our civil wedding. Some of my family members won't be able to travel to Mexico, so we plan to invite them to dinner after our City Hall civil wedding.
  • $5,000 for financial assistance for my family. We want to make sure all of our loved ones can afford to travel and stay in the resort with us. We plan to help subsidize five rooms for 10 family members by contributing $1,000 per room, or half the cost.
  • $1,150 for miscellaneous expenses.

Xavi and I each plan on saving $10,000. We put at least $500 a month into our respective high-yield savings accounts, which earn 4.6% to 5.5% interest annually.

We opened a 0% introductory APR credit card to cover our wedding expenses. This way, we can strategically allow our wedding funds to grow at a much higher rate before using them to pay off the card.

Over the past few years, Xavi has been able to save a little bit more than me since he doesn't have as many familial financial responsibilities as I do, and we're OK with that. We're very conscious of proportionate budgeting and being mindful of each other's financial situations.

It feels like a huge milestone to save and pay for our own wedding

In December 2023, Xavi upgraded my Etsy engagement ring to a 1.7-carat lab diamond ring.

As first-generation college grads, we never thought we'd earn as much as we do today. In my current job, my total compensation is around $180,000, while Xavi's is around $140,000 a year. Getting here has come with challenges, like navigating guilt and imposter syndrome.

To me, $20,000 is still a lot of money, so it feels like a huge milestone to be able to save it and pay for our wedding ourselves. Part of me feels guilty that I'm spending so much on our wedding, but we're very proud and thankful that we can have the wedding of our dreams while remaining frugal.

We've worked so hard and waited so long to be able to do this.

Viviana Vazquez is a 28-year-old senior content marketing manager who is documenting her frugal fiancé journey on social media.

If you saved up for a major life event in an unconventional way and would like to share your story, email Jane Zhang at janezhang@businessinsider.com.


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