High-priced millennial weddings and how to pay for it all

We’ve seen time and time again that millennials are putting off big life milestones: marriage is a perfect example.

In 1963, the average age a woman tied the knot was 21, and the average age for a man was 23*. Today, both men and women are waiting a decade longer: the average age has increased to 32 for women and 34 for men**.

While I’m looking forward to celebrating my second anniversary this bank holiday weekend, I’m the exception to the new rule: I was just 24 when I wed. And it’s only now that many of my friends are even thinking about getting engaged and wondering how to pay for it all.

“My most brilliant achievement was my ability to persuade my wife to marry me.” – Winston Churchill

Planning (and paying) for your wedding

The average cost of throwing a wedding in the UK this year is £31,974** – with Londoners spending closer to £40,000** to get married in the capital.

Research shows that most couples use personal savings to pay for the day, with one in five putting some on a credit card and one in 10 taking out a loan. It’s not entirely surprising that more than half turned to the Bank of Mum and Dad to help contribute as well.

So one good thing about delaying marriage is you have more time to save.

AXA Framlington Global Technology has been the best performing Elite Rated fund over both three and five years***. As the name suggests it invests in technology stocks around the globe. If you invested £600 a month for the past three years (arguably the length of your engagement) you’d have £32,453*** for your big day. But with some forethought and planning you could have halved your contribution to £300 a month over five years and had enough for a wedding and honeymoon with £36,587****.

Similarly, £300 a month over five years in both Baillie Gifford Global Discovery and Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust (the most viewed funds by millennials on FundCalibre in 2018), would have also paid for your wedding accumulating £31,790**** and £31,939**** respectively over the last five years.

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The added cost of being a wedding guest

It’s not just wedding costs that are rising. A recent study by American Express found the average cost of attending a wedding the UK for 2019 is £391 per guest^ and this doesn’t take into account hen and stag parties with £552 spent on the stag** and £472 on the hen**.

So is it any surprise that 44% of millennials^ have turned down wedding invitations due to cost? There’s no easy way to say ‘I don’t’, but attending someone’s big day shouldn’t land you into debt either.

With most engagements almost two years in length, as a future guest you can also plan in advance and avoid dipping into your emergency fund. Maybe make the wedding itself the priority and consider politely declining the hen or stag weekend away if you can’t afford the added costs. And if you have a lot of weddings in one year, set yourself a budget per wedding that way, while the bride and groom are on honeymoon, you won’t be sitting at home paying off a credit card bill or a loan.

*Source: Pew Research Centre (2018), How Millennials today compare with their grandparents 50 years ago
**Source: Hitched (2019), National wedding survey 2019
***Source: FE Analytics, total returns in sterling, £300 per month over three years to 31 July 2019
****Source: FE Analytics, total returns in sterling, £600 per month over five years to 31 July 2019
^Source: Evening Standard, 16 August 2019

The views of the author and any people interviewed are their own and do not constitute financial advice. However the knowledge that professional analysts have analysed a fund or trust in depth before assigning them a rating can be a valuable additional filter for anyone looking to make their own decisions. Before you make any investment decision make sure you’re comfortable and fully understand the risks. If you invest in fund or trust make sure you know what specific risks they’re exposed to. Past performance is not a reliable guide to future returns. Remember all investments can fall in value as well as rise, so you could make a loss.