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It’s easy for wedding expenses to get out of hand. Some couples start out with a strict wedding budget, only to exceed it to get the perfect dress, a sought-after venue and any number of tempting choices of flowers, food and gifts for the wedding party. As the guest list expands, which often happens, the cost of the wedding can increase significantly. The honeymoon can set a couple back thousands of more dollars.

It’s all too easy to put these expenses on your credit cards and ignore them until you get the bills. In a survey by Lending Tree and Qualtrics, 45% of recently-married couples said that paying for their wedding put them in debt.

Starting out a marriage with wedding debt may be a precursor to money conflicts later on. Of the couples who said they had wedding debt, 47% reported that money issues had led them to at least consider divorce. That’s significantly more than the 9% of those without wedding debt who said they’d considered divorce.

Over a third (36%) of those with wedding debt said that they “often” fought with their spouse about money (as opposed to 11% of those without this debt).

When engaged couples aren’t on the same page about how much to spend on the wedding, conflicts can start early. Over three-fourths of those who incurred wedding debt reported that they’d fought with their partner about the cost of the nuptials.

Too often, couples don’t talk about money when they’re contemplating marriage — or even after they’ve gotten engaged. In the survey, just 31% said they discussed money issues once they were engaged. Thirteen percent said they didn’t discuss money until after they were married.

Financial issues and even differing attitudes about money (like the importance of saving vs. spending) are among the leading causes of divorce. It’s no wonder that starting off the marriage in debt after a lavish wedding (particularly if only one partner really wanted that big wedding) can be the beginning of marital issues from which a couple may never recover.

If you’re considering divorce or believe that your spouse is, it’s essential to protect your financial interests — particularly if your husband or wife isn’t as careful with money as you are. An experienced family law attorney can provide valuable guidance.