Survey shows 45 percent of couples borrow money to pay for weddings

Photo (c) zimmytws - Getty Images

Not surprisingly, going into debt often leads to early arguments

Over the years, weddings have moved a long way from “something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue.” Those things rarely cost very much.

Today’s weddings can be insanely expensive, and if the happy couple is paying for it themselves, the marriage can start off with a mountain of debt. 

A new study by LendingTree found that around 45 percent of married couples between the ages of 18 and 53 went into debt to pay for their wedding. And not surprisingly, that financial decision rocked the marriage boat.

Of those who borrowed money to pay for their wedding, nearly half said the fallout from that move caused at least one of the partners to consider getting a divorce. Meanwhile, divorce appears to be much less likely among couples who manage to get married without going into debt. Only 9 percent of those marriages end up in divorce court.

Getting married is a big step and is stressful enough, but the survey found going into debt to pay for it just piled on the stress. Seventy-six percent of those debt-ridden newlyweds said they argued about wedding-related expenses before and after the big day.

Less spending = fewer arguments

Again, couples who didn’t borrow money to pay for a wedding had fewer arguments -- at least about money. 

Interestingly, financing a wedding appears to influence how married couples deal with each other on financial issues well after the wedding. Thirty-six percent of couples still paying off their wedding reported that they frequently argued about money. Only 11 percent of couples with no wedding debt found themselves engaged in financial arguments.

For couples planning a wedding, the study offers a clear wake-up call. Planning an event that requires a bank loan is not just a risky financial move it can pose trouble for a relationship. One in four newlyweds says they wish they spent less on their wedding, especially for food and beverages.

About a third said family members of the bride and groom added to the tension during the planning process, suggesting that at least some of the spending was due to family pressure.

The average U.S. wedding cost more than $33,000 in 2017, not counting the honeymoon, according to wedding planning website The Knot. That’s slightly lower than 2016, which the editors attribute to couples deciding to avoid formal affairs and instead choosing non-traditional ceremonies and venues.

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