The true cost of a wedding

Your wedding should be one of the happiest days of your life – but with the cost of weddings rising, a dream wedding might feel out of reach financially.

The cost of the average wedding in the UK has risen dramatically over the last decade, and according to Hitched’s annual wedding survey, the average cost of a wedding in the UK in 2019 was £31,974[1] – which is a £5,000 increase from 2017.

For many engaged couples (and their families) the question of how to pay for a wedding is becoming a real financial burden. It’s understandable to want a special wedding day that you can enjoy with family and loved ones, but our new research has revealed that couples are taking on debt in order to finance their wedding.

Problem debt can cause stress and worry – so how much debt are Brits getting into to afford their perfect day? We conducted some new research to find out how people in the UK afford their weddings, and how much debt is caused by wedding costs.

The average Brit gets into £3,958 of wedding debt

The average person in the UK gets into £3,958 worth of debt[3] because of their wedding, and it takes the average Brit 1-2 years to recover from the financial outlay.

If you have debt that’s weighing on you and you’re worried about the impact on your finances, check out our debt guides to find out more helpful information.

While the traditional custom was for the bride’s family to pay for the wedding day, our research shows that’s no longer the case. Just under a third of the couples we spoke to (29%) had their family pay for their wedding, and 12% borrowed from friends and family to afford their wedding.

With the costs of weddings on the rise, most Brits will have to save up for the expense of a wedding. And our research backs that up – a huge 59% of Brits used savings to pay for their wedding. It’s also worth bearing in mind that the average age at which people in England and Wales get married has been increasing steadily year on year since the 1970s[2].

There are lots of reasons for that, but one of them could be due to the rising costs of weddings – people are getting married later because it takes people longer to build up the savings they need for a wedding. While steadily building up savings for your special day is a sensible way to afford a wedding, it’s very difficult if you’re in a position where you can’t save as much as you’d like.

How much debt do weddings cause?

If you’re not able to save, then you might turn to other sources to fund your wedding. Our research revealed that plenty of the Brits we surveyed use some form of credit to afford their nuptials. Almost a quarter of Brits ended up using their credit cards for part of their wedding – here are some of the major stats about using credit methods to pay for a wedding:

  • 23% of Brits used credit cards to pay for their wedding
  • 12% of Brits used their overdraft to pay for their wedding
  • 12% of Brits used a loan to pay for their wedding

Using a credit source like a credit card, overdraft or loan might help you to afford a wedding in the short-term, but in the long-term it can have a serious impact on your finances and your credit file.

Before you spend a large amount of money, look at your budget and make sure you can afford to pay back what you’re borrowing. If you’re in a debt solution like a Debt Management Plan, you might have to speak to your debt advisor before you take out any more credit options.

While your wedding day is all about celebrating your relationship, the impact of financial strain can last long beyond the honeymoon. Problem debt can impact your relationships as well as your mental health if you’re not able to take steps to tackle it – check out our Time to Talk article on how to speak to a loved one about debt. If you’re a Lowell customer and you’re worried about debt, whether it’s as a result of your wedding or not, you can contact the Lowell team to talk about how we can help and your options.

How long does it take Brits to pay off their wedding?

Our research revealed that it takes most Brits between 1-2 years to recover financially from their wedding. 15% of those we spoke to spent up to 2 years paying off their wedding debt, followed by 15% of Brits who took 5-6 months – still a significant amount of time to be in debt for the cost of a single (very special) day. 

If you’re worried about problem debt, you can use tools like our free budget calculator to figure out how you can manage your finances and start clearing your debt. If you’re a Lowell customer, then check out our Next Steps to find out how Lowell works and how we support our customers.


Published by Libby Davies on 28th February 2022





[3] TLF Survey conducted on behalf of Lowell, 1000 UK respondents, February 2022 

Read more 'Lifestyle' pieces from our blog...

What happens to debt when you die, get married or move abroad?

Different circumstances can affect you and your debt. We explain what happens to debt when you die, move abroad, get married and more.

Read more

The UK's biggest money fears

We have revealed the UK's biggest financial fears and how to combat them, from worries about monthly outgoings to fear of fraud.

Read more