Up to 20% of Americans Go Into Debt To Attend Weddings

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A growing number of Americans are going into debt to pay for pre-wedding events, data shows. According to a recent poll of 1,039 adults by Credit Karma, one in five people (21%) said they went into debt to fund their own wedding while 20% said they’ve gone into debt to attend someone else’s.

This may come as a surprise until you remember the average price of a wedding is $35,329. The average number of guests at a wedding is 165, and the Knot also reports that the average wedding guest can expect to pay $537 to attend just a bachelor or bachelorette party. This includes the cost of attire, travel costs, hotel costs, gift expenses, food and beverages costs, and more. While it’s true that 17% of airline passengers prefer to sleep on their flights, it’s safe to say that 100% of airline passengers would prefer not to go into debt as a result of their travels.

“There’s the engagement party, the bachelorette [or bachelor party], then the wedding,” said Dana Marineau, the vice president of brand, creative, and communications at Credit Karma.

Millennials, those born between 1994 and 1980, are the most likely to go into debt as wedding guests. The Credit Karma data shows that 35% of millennial respondents have gone into debt to attend a bachelor/ette party and 30% have gone into debt to attend a wedding.

These high percentages point not to millennials’ willingness to spend money on a grand scale, but that few millennials have enough money saved up for unexpected costs.

In fact, a Bankrate survey found that only 39% of American households have enough money saved to pay for a $1,000 emergency such as a medical expense, furnace failure, or roof leak. That means even fewer have enough saved to pay for expenses like weddings. And when almost 45 million people have put a deposit towards at least one tattoo, saving for an event like a wedding can feel impossible.

“While tapping savings to pay off an emergency was the most common response, more than a third of Americans would sink into one type of debt or another, potentially harming their financial security,” said Bankrate in their report.

High student loan payments and little wage growth in recent years have kept millennials from being able to save for many things including travel or home remodels.

For instance, rather than travel for a wedding, millennials may choose to have a small, local wedding instead. And rather than replacing old flooring, millennial homeowners may choose to refinish their floors; engineered bamboo floors can be refinished twice. But giving up travel, home remodels, and other expenses still don’t put millennials in a good financial spot.

Pew Research Center says that uneven wage growth is the key factor behind widening income inequality in the U.S., and 50% of job applicants have even taken to embellishing their resumes to obtain jobs that pay higher wages.

Millennials may temporarily avoid going into debt by not attending bachelor/ette parties, but the Credit Karma survey found that even related events can be major debt-drivers. More than four out of 10 participants said bridal showers and engagement parties also drove them into debt.

Pre-wedding festivities that require travel also takes a major financial hit. A three-day weekend bachelor/ette party in New York City can cost wedding guests up to $1,958 when accounting to hotel costs, airfare, and more.

Marineau recommends taking a frank look at your finances and deciding between attending the wedding or bachelor/ette party. If you have more than one wedding to attend, consider prioritizing one over the other. She also recommends booking flights at least 100 days in advance to find the cheapest flights.

“Whether it’s the bridal shower or bachelorette party, pick one thing that’s the most important,” said Marineau.

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