File under: If it seems too good to be true, it probably is too good to be true.
Late last year, SwanLuv, a Seattle-based startup began promising engaged couples loans of up to $10,000 to finance their weddings. The startup told couples that they could “receive funds up to $10,000 towards your dream wedding for FREE” – that is, if you stay together.
Couples who divorced would have to cough up the loan, with accrued interest. Supposedly this money would be funneled back into loans for other hopeful couples, and SwanLuv would generate revenue from ads – even providing free online marriage counseling to help couples stay together.
Apparently more couples than SwanLuv could ever have guessed were ready to take a gamble on true love in what SwanLuv founder called a “casino for marriages.” The company received over 200,000 loan requests.
Pivot into crowdfunding
On Valentine’s Day, when the startup was set to launch, SwanLuv unexpectedly pivoted – a word used by startups to describe strategic changes in the business plan, or, in some cases, as a euphemism for admitting defeat.
On their Facebook page, SwanLuv announced that “due to overwhelming demand (nearly two billion dollars at $10,000 per couple) and unanticipated legal regulations/restrictions in the lending space, rather than pull out we came up with a tool we believe still helps couples with their wedding financing.”
That “tool” is a crowdfunding platform that has couples soliciting their friends and families to pitch in towards the wedding – with the same catch that the money will be returned if the couple divorces, but to the original donors.
“What seemed like a dream come true”
As you might expect, a storm of expectant bridal anger was unleashed as many eager couples had been waiting for months for their wedding loan, and now will have to scramble to find other solutions.
One bride told GeekWire, “If so many other couples as myself had the family and friends to help with our weddings, we would have already gone this route, not wait months on end for help from what seemed like a dream come true.”