Congratulations, you’ve found that special someone to spend the rest of your life with! Whether you’re about to pop the question or ready to walk down the aisle, it’s time to figure out how you will budget for all of the engagement and wedding expenses.
It is important to realize that this will be one of the most crucial conversations you’ll ever have with your partner about money. This is because the goal is to build a lasting marriage, not just the perfect wedding day.
Planning for Your Expenses
Just like a house, your marriage needs to have a solid foundation. This is the perfect opportunity to consult with a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional to assist you and your partner in preparing for your engagement and wedding expenses.
Here are four key components to planning for wedding and engagement expenses:
- List your Needs and Wants
Sit down with your partner and talk about everything. Yes, everything. No matter how large or small, every detail is important. Make a list of everything you think would make the day special.
- Learn to Listen
A good partner is a good listener. When making your list, even if you disagree, show the courtesy of listening when your partner shares their priorities, just as you would expect them to do for you. What’s important to you might not be as important to them and vice versa.
- Rank the List
Revisit the list of your needs and wants and either assign a number to each item or divide items by tiers, with 1 being the most important. This is where you will sort what you both need from what you both want. As a couple, you must agree on the most important items, whether that’s the wedding dress, a festive reception or an intimate honeymoon.
- Prepare a Budget
Using your list of ranked expenses, decide how you will budget for each item. Assign a dollar amount and see how it all adds up. Think about if you are willing to revise your list to stay on budget or do you need to expand your budget to accommodate for each person? Talk it through with your partner until you come to an agreement.
Saving for the Big Day
A word of caution: A 2019 study from LendingTree showed that 45% of newlyweds racked up debt to pay for their wedding. After the big day, nearly half of those couples reported that their debt resulted in them considering divorce. Ideally, you should avoid going into debt to start your new life together.
To save money, think outside the box. What things can you rent or borrow? Can you use your DIY skills to create some decorations, or maybe work out a trade? Creativity can go a long way when you are trying to save money. Working with a CFP® professional will benefit you and your partner in making the best financial decisions.
It is important to remember that some people have been thinking about their wedding day since they were children. If your partner has been dreaming of those ice sculptures for 20 years, be prepared to grin and bear it. It is also worth noting that if one person does the budgeting, the priority list might be skewed toward their preferences. Be mindful of this to ensure that each one of you is represented equally.
Financial Planning for the Future
Above all, set emotions aside and let this conversation serve as the foundation for all future financial discussions. When it’s time to budget for a house, a car or starting a family, you’ll go through the same process. Use this opportunity to discuss details, ask questions and truly listen to each other’s wants and needs. When ready, methodically rank, prioritize and make decisions based on what you’ve learned about each other and the realistic impact on your budget.
If you are unable to do these things before marriage, not only could you drastically overpay for your wedding, but financial topics will become harder to discuss in the future. Failure to have these conversations can lead to mistrust, secret accounts and even financial infidelity — all of which might lead to divorce, another costly endeavor.
Guarantee that your new life together gets off to a good start by having this difficult but necessary conversation. As you say, “I do,” you’ll be glad you did. For more financial planning resources for couples, be sure to check out LetsMakeAPlan.org.