Millennials are skipping expensive weddings and going on group honeymoons

Keep it simple.
Keep it simple.
Image: Reuters/Christian Hartmann
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It’s wedding season—and debt is in the air.

Brides and grooms (and their parents) are shelling out more than ever for their big day. The average cost of a wedding in the US rose to a record $35,329 last year, according to the wedding site TheKnot.com. Keep in mind the US is large. In Manhattan, the price to celebrate tying the knot is more than double that. No wonder wedding loans exist.

What’s driving up the price? A spare-no-expense attitude. Couples are opting for ever-more lavish affairs, with entertainment that includes photo booths and even fireworks, TheKnot.com found. The average cost per wedding guest in the US last year was $245, up from $194 in 2009.

Couples are getting slightly more selective when it comes to their receptions, though their honeymoons now may be more of a group activity.

They’re are also inviting slightly fewer guests than they used to. But they may as well pad out the list with some college acquaintances and water-cooler friends from work because many guests are finding the affair out of their budgets.

Nearly 40% of millennials surveyed by the travel site Priceline.com say they have opted out of attending a wedding or related event because the travel and other costs were too high. Millennials spend an average of $600 for wedding-related events, the survey found. More than a third of respondents said their accommodations were their biggest cost.

Crashing the honeymoon is another option, though no less pricy. Some of your closest friends might be willing to join you and your beloved on a trip after the wedding. Around 12% of respondents said they attended a “buddymoon” in the last five years, with two-thirds of them spending more than $800.

But no amount of piña coladas that can smooth over the stress of the costs, not even when eight of your closest friends are enjoying a sunset. One in five people said the cost of their accommodations was the most likely cause of tension in the group.

What better way to prepare for a long marriage than the art of discussing painful money issues?