SwanLuv backs out on promise to provide free money for engaged couples

Feb 20, 2016 at 11:05 p.m. ET
Image: Rubberball/Mike Kemp/BrandXPictures/Getty Images

It seemed too good to be true when a startup promised to provide betrothed couples with a $10,000 loan that only had to be repaid if the couple divorced.

And it turns out, it was.

SwanLuv gained a lot of publicity in late 2015 when the founder said they'd give out the loans starting in February 2016. Well, now it's February — and couples that applied to be first in line for the free wedding cash are feeling duped after the company pivoted from free money to a crowdfunding platform.

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“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... We sincerely apologize to anyone we have upset by adjusting our funding platform," CEO Scott Avy wrote on Facebook.

This isn't going over well with those who hoped to finance their nuptials with the promised loans.

“I was crushed,” Louisiana bride-to-be Keyanna told Yahoo Finance. “We were really looking forward to the chance of having money going toward our wedding."

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Brandi Kinney of Las Cruces, New Mexico, was also disappointed because she wanted to use the money so her terminally ill mother could see her get married. “A wish of hers was to see us get married, but we don't really have a lot of money, nor do we have people in our lives who can provide us with a lot of money,” Kinney told Yahoo. The mother of two — including an autistic child — is currently 24 and a student. She and her fiancé live off a stipend she receives from a scholarship.

We've all heard that there's no such thing as a free lunch, but Avy received a ton of publicity for claiming SwanLuv was really going to give out the money. The skeptic in me wonders if that was the plan all along — crowdfunding platforms are pretty commonplace now, so a new one wouldn't make much noise in the media. But SwanLuv got a ton of attention — and web traffic — from the publicity, which helped it get name recognition and high ranks in Google.

Will SwanLuv find success as a raise-money platform? We'll see, but Kinney won't be participating.

"We didn’t raise a penny and it was a nightmare,” she told Yahoo of a previous attempt at raising money on GoFundMe. “They said it was trashy and that my my fiancé was less of a man because he couldn’t provide a wedding for his future family."

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