May 21, 2019
It’s hard to say anything except “I will” when a friend or family member invites you to his or her “I dos.” But it often can be an inconvenient and costly obligation. In fact, according to American Express, the average wedding guest spends $592 per wedding, according to a recent report by Real Simple.
Considering the necessary wardrobe trappings, the travel, the accommodations, and the (often, multiple) gifts, attending nuptials—either as a member of the wedding party or a guest— can be expensive. And however much you want to say that money is no object when you are celebrating the happiness of people you love—you may (justifiably) worry that a one-day event isn’t worth going into debt.
And that happens more frequently than you would imagine. Indeed, a recent survey by Credit Karma of 1,039 Americans ages 18 and up found that about one in five Americans (20%) has gone into debt to attend someone else’s wedding —and 21% have gone into debt to fund their own marriage ceremony.
Millennials (born between the early 1980s and 2000) are the most prone to rack up debt as wedding guests—with 35% of millennial respondents having gone into debt to attend a bachelor or bachelorette party and 30% having gone into debt to attend a wedding.
Why all the wedding-related debt? It could have to do with the social pressures and expectations set around weddings, the researchers found. Respondents cited feeling the need to impress friends and family (32%) as one reason they overspent on their own weddings, while others (20%) said they went into debt to make their wedding look good for social media.
Specifically, just how much debt are they racking up? Perhaps unsurprisingly, wedding-related debt is especially high for the couple throwing the wedding. A quarter of respondents (25%) who went into debt to pay for their wedding did so to the tune of $10,000 or more.
As for the attendees, more than a third of wedding guests and more than a third of bachelor/bachelorette party celebrants reported racking up more than $500 in charges.
How can both the guests and the bridal couple avoid going overboard? According to Credit Karma, the main reason people were able to avoid going into debt to attend a wedding was because the wedding was local (55%), meaning there would be fewer costs around things like hotels and plane tickets.
Other budget-friendly decisions: Choose wedding gifts you can actually afford (try splitting bigger-ticket items with other guests, if the couple’s registry allows), rent or rewear an outfit, stay at a friend’s home instead of at an hotel, and suggest budget-friendly bachelor/ette activities for the group.
Research contact: @creditkarma