Published Study: American Views and Personal Experiences On Wedding-Related Debts

Below appears the executive summary for the Credit Report study, conducted by Harris Poll® via its QuickQuerySM online omnibus from March 11-13, 2014. You will find overall key findings followed by the detailed findings per question afterwards.

Key Findings

Survey results show that 73% of Americans currently have any kind of debt. The most common type of debt is credit card (45%), followed by mortgage (35%) and medical bills (18%). Though a vast majority says they have debt, 64% still manage to pay their bills in full every month.

There is a slight disconnect in what they want vs. what they are experiencing in reality. 91% of Americans say they would rather enter a new marriage debt free than have a dream wedding. 34% say they would rather save or did save the money it would cost or did cost to pay for their dream wedding than splurge on it. Just 4% say they would go or went into debt to pay for their dream wedding, and 1% admit they would be or were willing to ruin their credit (e.g., pay bills late, default on loans, file bankruptcy) to pay for their dream wedding. According to the survey data, Americans are willing to pay an average amount of $7,600 for their dream wedding.

When it comes to paying for a wedding, 32% of Americans say they’ve tapped into alternative options to come up with the cash. Using a credit card is the top response at 17%, followed by taking or took on a second job (12%) and just good old fashioned borrowing money from parents (11%). 

Detailed Findings:

Planning to get married, get a mortgage, get a divorce, move, able to pay bills

  • Six in ten (64%) Americans say they are able to pay their bills in full every monthThose age 45+ (70%) are more likely to say this than those age 18-44 (57%).
  • 6% say they plan on getting married in the next 2 years. Not surprisingly, those age 18-34 (14%) are more than five times as likely to say this as those age 35+ (2%).
  • 6% say they are in the process of movingThose age 18-34 (11%) are more likely to say this than those age 35+ (3%).
  • 5% say they plan on getting a mortgage in the next 2 years. Those age 18-34 (9%) are three times as likely to say this as those age 45+ (2%).
  • Just 1% say they are in the process of getting divorced.
  • Three in ten (30%) say none of these apply to them.

Current debts

  • Almost half (45%) of Americans say they currently have credit card debtInterestingly, those ages 35+ (50%) are more likely to say this than those age 18-34 (33%).
  • Over a third (35%) say they currently have mortgage-related debtThose ages 35+ are more than twice as likely as those ages 18-34 to say this (42% vs. 17%, respectively).
  • 18% say they currently have medical billsThose who live in the South (21%) or Midwest (24%) are more likely to say this than those living in the Northeast (15%) or West (12%).
  • 15% say they currently have student loansThose age 18-34 (29%) and those age 35-44 (22%) are three times as likely to say this as those age 45+ (6%).
  • Less than one in ten (8%) say currently have a home equity loan.
  • A quarter (25%) say they have some other debt, while 27% state they do not have any debt. 

Wedding-related debt

  • A third (34%) of Americans say they would rather/did save the money it would/did cost to pay for their dream wedding than splurge on it.
  • Over a quarter (27%) of Americans say if they were getting married/when they got married, they would/did pay cash for a wedding dress instead of putting it on a credit card. Those who live in the Midwest (34%) are more likely to say this than those living in the Northeast (24%), South (25%) or West (24%).
  • 12% say they would/did pay for their honeymoon with a credit card.
  • 4% say they would go/went into debt to pay for their dream wedding. Men are more likely to than women say this (5% vs. 3%, respectively). This is driven in part by younger men aged 18-34 (7%) and 35-44 (10%).
  • 1% say they would be/were willing to ruin their credit (e.g., pay bills late, default on loans, file bankruptcy) to pay for their dream wedding.
  • Almost half (46%) of Americans say none of these are true for them. Those age 45-54 (51%), 55-64 (54%) and age 65+ (68%) are more likely to say this than those age 18-44 (33%).

What would you/did you do to pay for your wedding?

  • 17% of Americans say use(d) a credit card to pay for their wedding. Those who live in the Northeast (19%) or West (22%) are more likely to say this than those living in the South or Midwest (both 14%). Those ages 18-34 (24%) are twice as likely to say this as those age 35+ (12%).
  • 12% say they would take/took on a second job to pay for their wedding. Those ages 18-34 (25%) are three times as likely to say this as those age 35+ (7%)
  • 11% say they would borrow(ed) money from their parentsThose ages 18-34 (26%) are five times as likely to say this as those age 35+ (5%).
  • 4% say they would take/took out a loan to pay for their wedding. Those ages 18-34 (8%) are four times as likely to say this as those age 35+ (2%).
  • 1% say they would take/took out a second mortgage to pay for their wedding.
  • The vast majority (68%) of Americans say they did/would do none of these to pay for their wedding. The likelihood of saying this increases substantially with age (47% 18-34, 64% 35-44%, 74% 45-54, 79% 55-64, 90% 65+). 

How much would you be willing to pay for your dream wedding?

  • 36% of Americans say they would pay $1-$4,999 for their dream wedding. Those ages 55-64 (41%) or age 65+ (46%) are more likely to say this than those ages 18-34 (34%), 35-44 (31%) or 45-54 (32%).
  • 20% say they would pay $5,000-$9,999 for their dream wedding. Those ages 18-64 (21%) are more likely to say this than those age 65+ (14%).
  • 15% say they would pay $10,000-$11,999 for their dream wedding.
  • 11% say they would pay $12,000-$29,999 for their dream wedding. Those ages 18-34 (17%) are twice as likely to say this as those age 35+ (8%).
  • 5% say they would pay $30,000-$100,000 for their dream wedding. Those ages 18-34 (7%) are twice as likely to say this as those age 45+ (3%).
  • 13% say they would not pay any money ($0) for their dream wedding. Men are more likely to than women say this (16% vs. 11%, respectively).

Would you rather have a dream wedding or enter a new marriage debt free?

  • Overwhelmingly, 91% of Americans say they would rather enter a new marriage debt free than have a dream wedding.
  •  9% of Americans say they would rather have a dream wedding than enter a new marriage debt free.
  • Those ages 18-34 (18%) are more than three times as likely to say this as those age 35+ (5%).
  • Surprisingly, men are more likely to than women say this (11% vs. 7%, respectively).
  • Those with household income of less than $50k (13%) are more likely to say this than those with HHI of $50k-$74.9k (6%), $75k-$99.9k (5%) and $100k or more (7%).
  • Those with high school or less education (13%) are more likely to say this than those with some college education (7%) and college graduate or higher education (6%).

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