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Living together, getting married and debt

Getting married or entering a civil partnership can be one of the most exciting events in a person’s life, as well as the most expensive. Many couples end up relying on credit to pay for the ceremony, which can put them thousands of pounds into debt.

Moving in with your partner can also be expensive and stressful, especially if this is your first time dealing with household bills or living costs.

Arguments and stress are normal in a relationship, but debt can often make these issues worse. However, you can still have a wonderful ceremony and build a happy life together no matter what your financial situation.

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We’re moving in together – how do we deal with bills?

Many people‘s lives and priorities change when they move in with and eventually marry someone. They have to take someone else into account when thinking of living expenses such as food and household bills.

Before you move in with your partner, have an honest discussion around how to deal with priority bills and living expenses. For example:


  • Will one person cover more of the costs than the other? 
  • Will you set up a joint bank account or pay for things separately?
  • Will you pay your partner ‘housekeeping’ money, or vice versa?

Building a budget can help you and your partner understand where your money goes each month. Once you know who’ll pay for what, put the cost for each bill and living expense into a budgeting form. It'll also show how much money you have left over once all your living expenses are covered.

You can download our budget template in either PDF or Excel.

Talk to family and friends who are married or living together about how they deal with household bills. They may also have ‘hand-me-down’ furnishings to help you decorate your new home.

Once you move in with your partner, make sure to get the best deals on bills such as your utilities or digital TV package. There may be other ways to save money too, such as shopping at a cheaper supermarket. 

Don’t forget to visit your local charity shop. They often have high quality furniture, kitchenware and other items for much cheaper than if you bought it new.


Save money on your wedding and moving in together

Our money-saving and money-making tips can help you and your partner keep debt and stress under control.




How will my partner and I cover our wedding costs?

If you’ve agreed to get married, give yourself plenty of time to save up for the various costs involved. A 2017 survey found that the average cost of a UK wedding is now over £25,000.

Sit down with your fiancé (or proposed civil partner) and work out what you can afford to spend on your ceremony. As the months pass, you’ll find out more about how much items such as the wedding dinner, attire and entertainment will cost. Make sure you regularly review these costs to ensure you can realistically afford them.

If you’re currently on a debt solution, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to take out credit in order to pay for your wedding/civil partnership. However, depending on your situation, you may be able to save money through the Help to Save scheme.

If you don’t qualify for the Help to Save scheme, there may be other realistic ways to save money while paying off your debts.

Can we get married without spending lots of money?

Wedding costs tend to become excessive when items like the venue and wedding attire are factored in. The actual ceremony itself – whether in a religious building or at a registry office - is usually cheaper in comparison.

Many couples decide to elope so they don’t have to worry about an expensive wedding reception. The government website has more information on getting married or entering a civil partnership abroad. If you do decide to elope, make sure you and your partner discuss how you will handle any potential disagreements with family and friends.


Our family want to help with wedding costs. What should we do?

If your family have offered to help towards wedding costs, you need to know upfront if they expect to be paid back or not.

If you have to eventually pay this money back, it’ll be classed as a loan from family and friends. If you’re on a debt solution, you must let your debt solution provider know.

Depending on your situation, your family may need to wait some time until they get their money back. If this is the case for you, make sure your family are aware of this beforehand. 

If your family have offered to give you cash towards your wedding and you’re on a debt solution, you must let your debt solution provider know.

Will I inherit my partner’s debt if we get married?

You’re liable for any debts in your own name only, but not for any debts only in your partner’s name. If you get married, you won’t be responsible for any credit agreements or financial obligations that your partner had beforehand.

If, however, you take out a joint loan or a mortgage or open up a bank account together, you’ll both be liable for these debts. This is called 'joint and several liability’. Residents of England and Wales are also jointly liable for any council tax debt they may owe on their property, regardless of which one of you actually pays the bill or not. Joint debts taken out by unmarried couples work in the same way.

We’re in debt after getting married – what can we do?

If you’re dealing with debt as a result of an expensive wedding, please don’t worry. Free and confidential debt advice is available. We can help you get your finances back on track, so you can focus on building a happy and sustainable future with the one you love.

Helping you become debt free...

“I wish to thank your staff for all the great help they gave me when I was in so much debt.
They were a pillar of support to me.” (Leslie, Essex)

Foundation for Credit Counselling Wade House, Merrion Centre, Leeds, LS2 8NG trading as StepChange Debt Charity and StepChange Debt Charity Scotland. A registered charity no.1016630 and SC046263. It is a limited company registered in England and Wales (company no:2757055). Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

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