Want to buy a home but having trouble saving up a 20% down payment? You could theoretically try bailing on your buddy's upcoming bachelor party. Zillow recently crunched some numbers to find that attending a string of destination bachelor parties in your 20s and 30s can add up — to a full third of a down payment on a typical home.
Bachelor party attendees reported spending an average of $738 apiece, according to survey data from wedding website The Knot. But destination stag parties cost a princely $1,532 each. (The split was $472 vs. $1,106 for bachelorette parties.)
That's a hefty chunk of change, to be sure, but Zillow takes a few liberties to make its case. A popular fella — with nine destination bachelor parties on his plate over the course of three years — would shell out $13,788 in total, or 34% of the down payment on a median-priced U.S. home.
But come on, nine destination bachelor parties in three years? I used to rage with (and without) the best of them, but that pace would have sidelined me even in peak partying condition.
Still, the Knot's numbers do show that attending weddings — not just your own, which now costs an average of $35,329, but those of your close friends as well — is expensive business. And like student loan debt, such costly wedding obligations could conceivably delay homeownership for some young people.
Let's do a bit of our own math: The average wedding has five bridesmaids and five groomsmen, says The Knot, which means you're likely to play a starring role in five people's weddings during Peak Nuptials. Bridal party members spent an average of $1,154 per wedding — that works out to $5,770 for your five weddings.
Suppose you attend all five bachelor or bachelorette parties, too, three of which are out of town. That's another $6,072 for the gents, and $4,262 for the ladies.
And let's say you attend another 10 weddings of more peripheral friends and family members. The average guest reported spending $888 per wedding, including hotel, transportation, attire, and gift. That's another $8,880.
Add it all up, and women are potentially spending $18,912 on other people's weddings. Guys are dropping $20,722. Jeez, that's actually HALF a down payment on Zillow's median-priced home.
So yeah, maybe it's getting out of hand. But I'm a romantic, and I'm not going to quibble with anyone spending money to celebrate love and friendship. Show me someone who skips all their friends' weddings and bachelor parties to save up for a house, and I'll show you a house I'm in no rush to visit.
However, I can personally attest to the bankrupting power of pricey bachelor parties. After spending an amazing summer in Ireland with my future wife, depleting all of our savings and then some, we returned, penniless, in time for a close friend's wedding. The bachelor party was in New York City, and beyond the cost of simply getting to and staying in Manhattan, it involved box seats to a Red Sox-Yankees game at the peak of the rivalry and dinner at a high-end steakhouse — where some of the wines cost more than actual cars I've purchased.
I put everything I could on my credit card, and paid the rest of my share to the best man using one of those balance transfer checks you get in the mail, thus assuring I'd pay a roughly 25% penalty on everything. This was terrible financial practice, and no doubt dug me deeper into a debt ditch that would take me years to escape.
But, would I trade that experience for a couple thousand bucks (plus interest) and the ability to have bought a home a year or two earlier? Not a chance.
However, truth be told, the stories we tell now have nothing to do with the money we threw around that night, and everything to do with the late-night lunacy we wrought together as friends —college-era antics we could have recreated just about anywhere, no matter how grubby. And that's the thing about love and friendship: It's worth every penny, but it shouldn't cost a dime.