What if Your Future Spouse Was in a Lot of Debt?

Would you marry someone who had a lot of debt? Most people under 25 would, while seven in 10 seniors would not, according to a recent U.S. study. But it’s unlikely that your partner-to-be will be completely debt-free. Last summer, CIBC found that two-thirds of Canadian couples enter a marriage or common-law relationship with debt.

The U.S. survey doesn’t define how much debt is too much, or ask if there’s a difference between good debt—like student loans or a mortgage—and bad debt (credit cards, car loans, payday loans) when it comes to marriage. But it looks like debt becomes a greater barrier to marriage with age, especially after 55.

Are Canadians underestimating their wedding spending?

Couples bringing debt into a marriage might just be most cost-conscious. Global News found that Canadians think the average wedding should cost under $9K, while only a few would be willing to spend more than 30-grand. But there might be a difference between what’s reasonable, and what people actually end up spending. Sean Simpson of Ipsos, who conducted the poll, thinks those numbers are a little low:

“If you’re in Toronto and you want a nice venue on a Saturday evening in June, you’re not spending $10,000.”


Some Canadians might have been affected by the downturn in oil prices, and others could be concerned about a recent rise in interest rates. But that probably still wouldn’t lead to a 200 per cent drop in wedding costs over the past two years. A 2015 survey of Canadian brides-to-be found that the expected cost of a wedding, including the honeymoon, was over $30-thousand.

Have you set a wedding budget?

Going back to the CIBC study, a whopping 99 per cent of couples feel it’s important to discuss their finances before marriage. However, just around one-third of couples planning to marry in the next two years have already talked about money in detail. But that doesn’t mean it’s too late to start.

Before you start planning the big day, go on a financial date night. Sit down with your partner and discuss your debt, spending habits and budgeting—including how much you plan to spend on the big day. If you do not have a wedding budget, it’s a good idea to talk about and estimate some of the costs involved. Remember, if you can set a lot aside now, it’s less debt you’ll be bringing into the marriage.

For more relationship advice, check out this blog post: 7 Ways To Avoid Financial Problems In Marriage