In sum, for many young people today, formal weddings are ill-advised from a financial point of view.
Weddings have not changed that much in recent times. Young couples still buy rings, arrange formal receptions, and arrange for bridal clothing and accessories. There are cakes and food to prepare. What has changed, however, is the cost associated with formal weddings. Indeed, there are a number of worrisome trends associated with wedding planning and finances.
As an initial matter, weddings are becoming more cost-prohibitive for young couples with modest incomes. A recent Conde Naste study demonstrates that more couples in this demographic group are choosing, both out of pride and out of necessity, to finance their weddings without direct assistance from parents (Hefty Price: 13). For young couples with modest savings, this has resulted in an additional trend. Many modern weddings are being financed on credit; that is, couples are using their credit cards and their personal credit lines to finance an event which is very brief and which has no return on investment. As stated in a recent investigative study, "Consolidated Credit, one of the country's five largest accredited agencies, reports that so far this year 5.2 percent of its 6,000 new customers have cited wedding debt as a reason for seeking credit counseling, double the rate of wedding-related cases the company took on in 2000, just before the last recession began" (Bayot: 1.1).
It can be seen, therefore, that an additional trend is for wedding financing to cause young couples to turn to credit counselors and other external advisors. Significantly, there is no corresponding trend to seek professional financial advice earlier in the wedding planning process; instead, the trend is for the couples to recognize after-the-fact that they may have overextended themselves financially. Even when couples recognize beforehand the importance of creating a reasonable budget, there are other pressures which encourage extravagant spending. Some people have justified excessive spending as a matter of pride or as a matter of tradition. This gives rise to another trend, which is the desire of young couples to have a formal wedding in order to please older family members and friends.
In sum, it can be seen that these trends, increasing costs and risky financing methods, can have several negative impacts. How the marriage handles these pressures and burdens is increasingly relevant.
1.2 Impact on Subsequent Marriage
One study has stated that, "There has been no data collected on whether wedding debt is a factor in the increase in personal bankruptcies. But in some cases, such counseling is a step on the road toward bankruptcy" (Bayot: 1.1). Clearly, however, the new marriage is burdened with higher levels of debt. This makes the couple more vulnerable to downturns in the economy, more vulnerable to minor changes in interest rates, and less able to begin investing in productive assets. These debts may take from between five and ten years to pay off in their entirety. In the meantime, the subsequent marriage is characterized by sacrifice rather than growth. Disposable income is allocated to credit card interest and principal. It may become more difficult to have a child in the short-run. It may be impossible to purchase a house or to attain additional credit on favorable terms.
In addition to these financial consequences, there may also be significant impacts on the emotional health of the spouses and the durability of the marriage itself. The financial strains may result in feelings of insecurity,