Every young couple want a memorable wedding day. But what happens if the couple have a lot of debt? Do you still have a big wedding celebration or do you decide instead that it may be a better idea to pay off your debts, or at least to pay them down?

If you have a lot of debt you may have to make a choice between dealing with the debt or having a big wedding. It’s not a choice that anyone likes to make but sometimes it’s completely necessary. There are arguments on both sides of this issue.

A wedding is a one time event you‘ll cherish for a lifetime

Having a big wedding celebration is often more important than getting out of debt. Marriage is an event that we hope will happen just once in a lifetime. That being the case, you will probably want to celebrate it the way you would a high school or college graduation, or the birth of a child. It’s one of those milestone events in a person’s lifetime.

Weddings also tend to bring people together. In today’s world, where families are often geographically dispersed, or conflicts may be pulling the family apart, weddings are one of the few times that people put their differences aside and come together in celebration. It’s an opportunity for people to see other family members who they haven’t seen in a long time, and also a photo opportunity.

Weddings, in a sense, are about much more than a couple getting married. They’re also milestones for entire extended families. It may be worth breaking the bank in order to bring the family closer together, if only for one day.

A lot of young people are carrying a lot of debt

On the other hand, a lot of young people are also deep in debt. Student loans, car loans, and credit card debt are making this situation more common. The money that could be spent on a wedding might be better used to reduce or pay off the couple’s debt.

The couple could instead opt for a more modest celebration. They could choose to have the wedding at their parents home or some other suitable but inexpensive location. That could be combined with a potluck dinner or even a bring your own bottle (BYOB) arrangement for liquor.

Other expenses could be reduced as well. For example a less expensive bridal gown, the men wearing suits instead of tuxedos, a stereo playing CDs rather than a band or disc jockey, or any reductions along these lines.

The idea would be to have the wedding on a shoestring, and redirect money that would have been spent on the celebration, as well as gifts received from guests, into other needs such as paying debt. No, it’s not as exciting as a big wedding, but it can fix an issue that can become a bigger problem in the future.

A clean financial slate is an excellent way to begin a marriage

The big advantage to having a more modest wedding celebration and using the money that would’ve paid for it to pay debt is that the couple will begin their marriage with a stronger financial position.

Money is one of the single biggest reasons for conflict in marriages, and debt is probably the single biggest money problem. If the couple can address that issue from the start of their marriage they can look forward to a more prosperous future. Beginning a marriage with a large amount of debt will put a lot of stress on the relationship.

A marriage, after all, isn’t the wedding day – it’s everything that happens after it! The “happily ever after” will be happier with less debt!

In the end, it‘s a personal decision

There’s no right or wrong approach here. It all depends on what the couple decide is the right course. So much depends too on the amount and type of debt the couple have. For example, high interest credit cards with large balances can be particularly threatening. The same is true of a car loan with a high monthly payment. Both can cut into the couple’s budget and cause pressure across the board.

Paying off such a debt can be thought of as putting out a fire before it burns down the whole house – or in this case, the marriage. Money problems have a way of making such things happen.

Do you think that a couple who have a lot of debt should consider having a modest wedding and concentrate instead on paying down or paying off their debt?

Kevin Mercadante

Kevin Mercadante

Kevin Mercadante is professional personal finance blogger, and the owner of his own personal finance blog, OutOfYourRut.com. He has backgrounds in both accounting and the mortgage industry. He lives in Atlanta with his wife and two teenage kids and can be followed on Twitter at @OutOfYourRut.