Almost half of American couples go into debt to get married, but is it a good idea?

Almost half of American couples go into debt to get married, but is it a good idea?

In the United States, the average wedding costs just under $30,000, according to a 2021 study from wedding planning site The Knot. This is quite a high price, especially when those who marry for the first time are on average 34 years old.

In 2021, the overall average number of guests was 105 guests at an average cost per guest of $266.

On average, couples pay around 48% of the cost of their wedding, with families typically covering the rest of the bill (52%). 49% spend more than initially planned.

Unfortunately, many couples start their wedding planning assuming they can control the costs. But one 2019 study by LendingTree found that 45% of newlyweds went into debt for their wedding.

Does that mean it’s okay to go into debt to plan the wedding of your dreams? Not according to Greg Wilson, Chartered Financial Analyst and co-founder (along with his wife) of lifestyle blog ChaChingQueen.

“So many relationships fail because of money fights. Why perpetuate the problem by going into debt together? If you can’t afford the wedding you want, then have the wedding you can afford” , says Wilson. “You can always have a much bigger birthday party later.”

Since start married life with a lot of debt isn’t fun, here are four suggestions to help you minimize the cost and maximize the fun on your big day.

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Think seriously about saving

While it’s easy to look at each line item and strategize how to cut costs, a couple’s biggest hurdle is putting money aside to pay for anything.

“Preparing financially for wedding expenses means budgeting, saving money for it, and not overspending,” says Anthony Martin, CEO and Founder of Choice Mutual.

This is precisely how Kelley Skar and his wife approached planning their wedding budget. Unlike many young couples, Skar and his wife did not receive help from family members.

“We had been engaged for a year, which allowed us to save and pay cash for the whole wedding,” says Skar, an Alberta, Canada-based father, real estate agent and founder of rewrittn. So even though the whole event cost the Skars around CA$18,000, they started their new life together debt-free.

A good strategy is to open a separate account for wedding expenses. Then only deposit money designated for that event and only spend money from that account on wedding expenses.

Set a wedding budget

Saving for a wedding is essential, but so is budgeting.

“Having a maximum amount you’ll spend on your wedding can help you plan without spending too much,” says Martin.

For many, determining a total cost and figuring out what to pay for each component can be a difficult or daunting process.

“A wedding is a joyful celebration, but it’s also important for couples to keep in mind that they should only spend what they can comfortably afford for the day, rather than starting married life with an extravagance. that puts them in a financial hole,” said Carma Peters, president and CEO of Michigan Legacy Credit Union.

Peters recommends for couples overwhelmed with the wedding budget get help from a financial coach or financial planner.

“Throughout life we ​​have sports coaches, professional mentors and career coaches; why not a financial coach? Since one of the most important things in a marriage is money, it is makes sense that a couple would get help from a coach in this area.”

A financial coach can cost as little as $75 per hour. A few hours can help you establish realistic expenses and savings for your wedding, and help you avoid years of high-interest debt.

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Prioritize your wedding needs and desires

When planning your wedding, it’s easy to prioritize the enjoyment of others.

“When planning your wedding finances, always prioritize the costs that you and your partner think are most important,” says Paul Sundin, CPA and tax strategist at

Once you know what’s important to you and your partner, you can break down how much to spend on each area and category.

“Setting a maximum budget for each category and subcategory helps prevent impulse purchases and prioritizes your spending,” says Martin.

“It’s your wedding, after all, so it’s best to decide which wedding elements are most important. That’s where you’ll spend most of your budget,” says Sundin. Even better, prioritizing your needs and wants makes it easier to start narrowing down other things since “you’ve already figured out your non-negotiables.”

Look for ways to minimize debt costs

But what if you really can’t save enough before the big day? Is it acceptable to incur a marriage debt, then? While there are schools of thought that suggest no debt is good debt, there are financial professionals who agree that debt plays an inevitable role in our lives and budgets.

For example, Keegan Schmidt worked last year with a couple who chose to go into debt of $10,000 to pay for their wedding. As a certified financial coach with Deeper Than Money, Schmidt asked the couple to walk through their money repayment plan.

“The amount of debt was intentional and planned. They chose to set aside $1,000 a month to pay off the debt interest-free in one year.”

How much debt you take on and how quickly you pay it off can only be determined on a case-by-case basis, but Schmidt is clear with her clients: “Go into debt only according to what fits your plan. .”

This means being very realistic about your budget and repayment plans.

“Nobody wants to pay for their wedding for the next three years,” Schmidt says. So when the numbers don’t match, go back to your budget and find ways to save.

One way to minimize the cost of wedding debt is to seek out interest-free loans or 0% balance transfers offered by some credit card companies.

Use one credit card – say a cash back card – to pay for all wedding expenses. Then, transfer to the 0% APR card for six to 12 months of interest-free payments, says Marina Vaamonde, founder of HouseCashin.

Keep in mind that the balance transfer will incur a fee, so you’ll need to add that cost to the budget – but a 2.5% balance transfer fee on $10,000 will cost you a lot less than if you slowly pay it back. same amount. sum on a credit card at 29% interest.

Another option is to talk to your wedding service providers to find out who offers zero or low interest payment plans, says Carter Seuthe, CEO of Credit Summit. Amortizing the repayment of a small wedding loan can be manageable, and the zero or low interest rate allows you to avoid paying extra for the privilege of a fantastic party.

“At the end of the day,” Skar says, “we have to remember that this is an expensive party for friends and family.”

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— With files by Samantha Emann

This article provides information only and should not be construed as advice. It is provided without warranty of any kind.

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