Skip to Content
Husband and wife sitting on couch drinking coffee and talking about managing their money in their marriage.
Marriage and Money

Saying "I don't" to wedding debt

With debt being cited as a leading cause of marital stress, a runaway wedding budget may cause avoidable strife down the road.

Saying “I don't” to wedding debt

When you hear that the average cost of a wedding is $32,641, it sets a mental expectation. Sure, a part of you may recoil at the number - which is enough to buy a brand-new car - but another part sort of probably shrugs, “Hey, weddings are expensive. The price tag is normal, and normal is right.” Right?

That's a matter of perspective. And perspective is important when you're planning a wedding and you're also concerned about debt management. If you were to cut your $28,000 wedding down to $14,000, you could put the balance toward buying your first home (or that car). If you were to invest it, that money could grow into your kids' college years and perhaps even into your retirement.

This infographic explores the costs of a wedding and the financial stress married couples experience.

Click on image to enlarge.

If the potential gain doesn't strike a chord, the potential debt might.

The average millennial carries a debt burden of nearly $37,172 in student loans. This means that when two average millennials get married, they're already more than $74,000 in the hole. Add to that the costs of home, car and children, and the financial challenges ahead start looking very stark.

Why add wedding debt to that picture if you don't have to? Debt is one of the top marriage stressors. More than one-in-three (35 percent) of couples say finances cause the most stress in their relationship, according to a study by SunTrust.

The good news is that you can get married without the wedding debt. Here's a little-known fact: while the average wedding cost is $20,000 to $30,000, that's not the most common cost. Most couples spend less than $10,000 - and with some good planning, so can you.

Need help creating a budget for your dream wedding? Here are some matrimonial money tips:

  1. Understand the cost drivers. Attire, beauty, entertainment, decorations, gifts, invitations, jewelry, photography, planning fees and rentals each demand their portion of the pie. This infographic helps you visualize the relative costs of each.
  2. Pick your one thing. Most wedding stories involve at least one minor catastrophe. While you can't guarantee something won't fall through the gaps, you can make sure of what's most important. Ask yourself what you care most about. Photography? The dress? Live music? Focus your energy and your budget on the most important thing.
  3. Decide what doesn't matter. No one said you have to do it just because it's done. Don't like cake? Serve pie. Don't want to break the budget on invitations? Then send an e-vite. Identify the cost areas you care about least, and make strategic sacrifices.
  4. Make it, borrow it and ask for help. A wedding is a celebration that touches your whole community. So involve your friends. When you bring a collaborative, DIY mindset to your wedding, you can stretch your budget further and get more meaningful results.
  5. Beware the hidden costs. Taxes, fees, tips and tents add up! Here's a list of the often-overlooked expenses and how to avoid them.

Good luck! With a little effort, you can plan an amazing celebration while also saying “I Don't” to wedding debt. Print and share this infographic to help you stay on track as you create your wedding budget.



Arrows linking indicating relationship

Related Articles

Woman on the phone discussing how to handle her debt with her financial advisor.

Should you handle your debt with bankruptcy?

Learn more
A couple getting into a limousine and leaving their wedding.

Financial planning for married couples: Filing income taxes separately & jointly

Learn more
A mother working on her household budget while her husband and child play in the background.

What are payday emergency loans really costing you?

Learn more

All Learning Center articles are general summaries that can be used when considering your financial future at various life stages. The information presented is for educational purposes and is meant to supplement other information specific to your situation. It is not intended as investment advice and does not necessarily represent the opinion of Protective Life or its subsidiaries.

Learning Center articles may describe services and financial products not offered by Protective Life or its subsidiaries. Descriptions of financial products contained in Learning Center articles are not intended to represent those offered by Protective Life or its subsidiaries.

Neither Protective Life nor its representatives offer legal or tax advice. We encourage you to consult with your financial adviser and legal or tax adviser regarding your individual situations before making investment, social security, retirement planning, and tax-related decisions. For information about Protective Life and its products and services, visit

Companies and organizations linked from Learning Center articles have no affiliation with Protective Life or its subsidiaries.