Nearly 20% of millennials have spent $1,000 or more on someone else’s wedding, survey finds

A group of millennial friends at a wedding hold champagne glasses and pose for a picture.Image: A group of millennial friends at a wedding hold champagne glasses and pose for a picture.

In a Nutshell

As wedding season approaches, a Credit Karma survey finds many millennials dig deep into their wallets to attend someone else’s big day. Nearly 1 in 5 reported spending $1,000 or more on a single wedding, with some even going into debt to attend.
Louis DeNicola is a personal finance writer and has written for American Express and Discover. Editorial Note: Credit Karma receives compensation from third-party advertisers, but that doesn’t affect our editors’ opinions. Our marketing partners don’t review, approve or endorse our editorial content. It’s accurate to the best of our knowledge when posted.
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Millennials may have several weddings to attend this year, and the associated expenses could add up — meaning going into debt for some.

In 2017, the median age for first marriages was 27.4 for women and 29.5 for men, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. This means many millennials could be in the midst of their wedding attendance years.

According to a recent Credit Karma/Qualtrics survey of 1,045 Americans between the ages of 18 and 34, the most that millennials have spent to attend a wedding is $770 on average. But some (nearly 20%) have spent more than $1,000 to attend a single wedding.

The reason so many might be willing to shell out this kind of cash? Over a quarter of millennials report that their friends’ weddings cause them FOMO, or fear of missing out, the survey found. And 17% of millennials surveyed have gone into debt to keep up with their friends to pay for wedding-related duties.

What’s more, at an average max cost of $770 per wedding, if millennials chose to pass on just one wedding this season they could seriously save. In fact, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2016 population estimates, it could result in more than $58 billion in collective savings.

Key findings

The most that millennials from the survey have spent to attend a wedding is $770 on average.
Nearly 20% of millennial respondents have spent $1,000 or more to attend a wedding.
Millennials could stand to spend 24% of their monthly income on each wedding they attend this season, based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ median monthly earnings for full-time working millennials.
Over a quarter (28%) of millennial respondents said friends’ weddings cause FOMO.
About 17% of millennials who reported that they have gone into debt to keep up with their friends have gone into debt paying for wedding-related duties for someone else’s wedding.
1 out of 5 surveyed millennials have said “no” to being in a wedding party because of the cost.
Based on the millennial population as of 2016, millennials could save about $58 billion by RSVPing “no” to weddings this season.

Many millennials find it hard to say ‘no’ to a friend’s big day

There’s a good chance you have to be there for the “I do” when an immediate family member or best friend gets married. But even when you’re not especially close to the bride or groom, choosing to RSVP “no” to a wedding can be a difficult decision.

Thirty-nine percent of surveyed millennials say missing a novel or “once-in-a-lifetime” experience is typically an underlying cause of FOMO. And 28% of surveyed millennials point to a friend’s wedding as one of the most FOMO-inducing situations.

That may be why 27% of respondents reported feeling uncomfortable saying “no” to activities they couldn’t afford — and why almost half (47%) of respondents said they had always agreed to be in wedding parties when asked.

Some millennials will attend weddings even if it means going into debt

FOMO could lead some to say “yes,” even when they can’t afford it.

Thirty-nine percent of respondents say they’ve used a credit card, a loan or borrowed money to keep up with their friends. Of those, 17% (6.32% of all survey respondents) went into debt to pay for wedding party expenses, such as clothing, shoes and activities.

Attending a wedding could cost a significant chunk of millennials’ paychecks

Wedding-related costs can quickly add up. And pressure to join others in group activities could be especially strong during a bachelor or bachelorette party, or in the days surrounding the wedding itself.

In the first quarter of 2018, the median monthly earnings for full-time working millennials was $3,172, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The most that millennials surveyed have spent to attend a wedding is $770 on average, meaning they could stand to spend 24% of their monthly income on a single wedding they attend this season.


Tips to save money when attending a wedding

While millennials could collectively save more than $58 billion by RSVPing “no” to a wedding this season, rejecting the “save the date” is not always an option. So here are a few ways to save money while still enjoying the event.

Share travel costs

Look for ways to split travel costs if you’re headed out of town for the wedding and know other attendees or are open to traveling with friends of friends. Everyone may appreciate the savings that can come from renting an apartment or vehicle as a group.

Say ‘no’ to the wedding party

Hopefully, the bride or groom will understand if you decline an invitation to be a bridesmaid or groomsman, which can often come with extra expenses. You won’t be alone, either. One out of five millennials surveyed have said “no” because of the extra costs associated with being in a wedding party.

Consider a thoughtful, rather than expensive, gift

You may feel obligated to give the newlyweds a big gift, especially if they’re putting on a lavish wedding. But you can look for ways to give something that’s meaningful and doesn’t blow your budget. For example, you could donate to a charity in their honor without specifying how much you gave.


Methodology

Generated by Credit Karma, the February/March 2018 study collected responses via an online Qualtrics survey from 1,045 consumers who are currently between the ages of 18 and 34 and located in the U.S. Millennial wage statistics were calculated using Q1 2018 earnings data for full-time wage and salary workers ages 20 to 34 in the U.S. from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. All percentages have been rounded to the nearest whole percent.


About the author: Louis DeNicola is a personal finance writer and has written for American Express, Discover and Nova Credit. In addition to being a contributing writer at Credit Karma, you can find his w… Read more.