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AP/Hektor Pustina
Wedding bliss can come with a high cost.
SOMETHING BORROWED

Here’s the one, absolute worst thing you could do before getting married

By Shelly Banjo

A new company, launched last week, wants to offer couples up to $35,000 in loans to cover the cost of a wedding or honeymoon—the most blazing sign yet that splurging on weddings has just gone too far.

Called Promise Financial, the company allows people to borrow $3,000 to $35,000. Promise then hands over the loans to a bank, which issues the loans and sells them to outside investors.

Borrowers are charged an origination fee of 1% to 5%, as well as interest ranging from 5.22% to 25.56%. That means a couple that borrows $20,000 through Promise today will end up spending between 10% to 50% more on their weddings just for the privilege of spreading out the payments over a three-year period (calculate it yourself, here).

In a promotional video from Promise, the company depicts a couple that doesn’t have enough money to pay for their “perfect wedding”:

“If they don’t find a solution, Brittany and Michael will have to put it on their high-interest credit cards or they might not be able to have the wedding they want,” the video warns in an alarming tone, offering up Promise as a solution.

Now, a lot of childhood dreams—and an overwhelming amount of peer pressure—are conjured up by the $300 billion global wedding industry. But borrowing money and shelling out interest on loans for years after the thank-you cards have been written, just to throw what boils down to a one-night party, makes zero economic sense.

Neither does starting off your marriage in debt, which has been linked to higher divorce rates by a hefty body of research.

One study found that among women, marriages that began with weddings that cost $20,000 or more were 3.5 times more likely to end in divorce than those that cost between $5,000 and $10,000. The authors suggested that spending more on weddings could lead to marital stress caused by debt. (Arguably, student loans, mortgages, and business loans present a similar risk—but at least taking out a loan for college will, in theory, lead to a better job that pays off in the long run, and borrowing money to pay for a home or start a new business also offer the potential for a financial return on the investment, whereas a wedding does not.)

In Promise’s defense, people already are using much more worrisome vehicles to borrow money for their weddings. In many cases, couples might be way better off borrowing from Promise at a fixed, 6% interest rate for 36 months with no hidden fees than they would be if they ran up revolving credit card debt, where the average APR in June was 13.02%.

“It is not for someone else to say how important it is for an individual to have a certain kind of wedding, and a lot of people are currently using high-cost credit cards or other suboptimal means to pay for their weddings,” Promise co-founder Brad Vanderstarren tells Quartz. 

He’s right, of course. But we’d still wager it’s a better bet to have a cheaper wedding, or to put aside some money every month in the year leading up to your nuptials in order to splurge on your big day.

Or, you could forgo the soiree altogether, elope instead, and invest the savings in the stock market. According to the Knot, the average cost of a US wedding in 2014 was $31,213. If you had taken that amount five years ago and invested it in an S&P 500 index fund, you would have doubled your money already.