"Congratulations! Can I pay off your AMEX?" Existing Debt as a Wedding Gift




As each generation matures, gets engaged, walks down the aisle and starts a family (or maybe does none of those things), what is known as "tradition" continually changes. As I have stated, I'm a personal fan of customizing your wedding any way you see fit. If that means a Star Wars wedding (hells yea!), getting engaged on a roller coaster, or secretly exchanging your vows on a boat or in a field before the actual ceremony (shout out to all my Office and HIMYM fans), so be it. But the other morning, I heard of a new practice among newlyweds that, for the first time, made me wonder if we're shying too far away with tradition, and begged the question--how far is too far?

I'm sure you've heard of the "Dollar Dance" (where you pay for a dance with the bride and groom at their reception) and Cash Bridal Showers (in which all you bring is checks or money vs. actual presents from her registry). Well, brace yourselves if either of these made you uncomfortable, because now, with a simple click of your mouse, you can go online to the bride and groom's registry, not to buy them kitchenware or a duvet cover, but to pay off their debt. That's right--to literally put cash towards any outstanding negative balance they have in their history. At Bill Pay Registry, newlyweds can register existing bills they have--student loans, credit cards, even phone bills (which are discouraged but not banned)--and have their wedding guests pay them off.

When I heard about this on the radio, the reactions were--unsurprisingly--as mixed as they were passionate. Some people, fresh out of college and newly engaged, thought it was a brilliant idea. What better way to walk down the aisle than debt-free and able to spend money without guilt towards building a new life? Others found the idea tacky and classless. One woman asked where people's pride has gone when everyone is putting their debt out for the world to see--and to ultimately pay off.

In my opinion, the verdict is still out. If I had a friend register on this site, I would support totally support them, but I am not sure I would ever choose to do this myself. Even though it would be fantastic to start my life as a wife debt-free, part of me hopes that I would take any existing debt into account when considering planning a wedding, and figure out how to plan for this on my own. Then again, sometimes there are unforeseen circumstances out of your control. And who knows--maybe someday down the line, this will become as commonplace as Crate and Barrel and Target.

What do you think? Would you ever do this? Do you think it's just another way to make weddings more realistic and helpful, or do you think it's embarassing? Do tell.



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  • Personally I wouldn't do this but there are some circumstance where it would be the best choice. I have some fiends graduating with the bachelors this summer. They are going to get married and then move across the country to go to graduate school. If you gave them actual gift it would probably just get sold when they moved so it is much better to give them money. I would rather they spend my gift money on something fun but some parents may prefer their children spend their gift on something practical- in which case this would be ideal.

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