Laura von Lindholm and Danish former soccer player Peter Schmeichel kiss after their wedding. Picture: AP

Washington - Skyler Ramirez has a loan for his house, his car - and now his fiancee's engagement ring.

The 26-year-old had already picked out the diamond solitaire from Tiffany & Co, when he happened upon an ad for wedding-related loans while he was checking his credit score on Credit Karma.

"I thought, 'Hey, I'm going to be making a pretty sizable purchase,'" said Ramirez, a general contractor who proposed on Valentine's Day. "I didn't want to be using cash or pulling money from savings or investments accounts."

It took about 15 minutes to get approval for the five-figure loan. At an interest rate of about eight percent, it will take more than three years - and $300 (about R4 300) a month - to pay it off. And it might not be the last loan he takes out as he prepares to get married.

Demand among Americans, who are already holding record levels of debt, for help financing weddings are giving rise to an industry of personal loans marketed specifically to brides and grooms.

"People are carrying more debt, they want to get married but don't have the funds to do so," said David Green, chief product officer at Earnest, a San Francisco-based online lender. "These loans are a way to thread the needle."

Demand for wedding loans has quadrupled in the past year, he said, making it the company's fastest-growing line of business. Couples borrow, on average, $16 000 and typically pay it off within three years. 

"Couples are getting married later, so they are more willing to pay," said David Wood, president of the Association of Bridal Consultants. "At the same time, their parents are older, they may be on a retirement income and not have the means to pay for the wedding either.

"What's driving this growth? Weddings are getting more expensive and people are waiting longer to get married," said Todd Nelson, director of strategic partnerships for LightStream, a lending division of SunTrust bank. 

"It used to be, generally speaking, the father of the bride was on the hook for paying for the wedding. That's not necessarily the expectation anymore."

The Washington Post