Planning an event such as a wedding, anniversary or commitment ceremony is about celebrating the love we have for that special person we want to spend the rest of our life with. It’s about sharing with your family and friends. Unfortunately without proper planning, many times getting married can become all about money.
According to Jane Conroy, Extension Educator with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, couples can become so caught up with the wedding they end up spending way too much. It’s, of course, one of the most significant days in your life, but it’s also one day. To end up in debt over one day can be a financial challenge and is not a good idea. Going into debt for a wedding and having bills pile up can be an unnecessary challenge when starting a marriage.
Here are some things to consider:
Determine your budget. These events can be a huge expense. Know what you have to work with and who is supportive financially. One should never assume who will or will not pitch in, nor should you assume that everyone has the same thoughts or values as you when it comes to your wedding. You will need to have discussions between you and your fiancé, as well as with any parents that you feel may wish to contribute towards your wedding.
Here are the major budget items:
- ceremony location
- florists and decorations
- attire (wedding dress, tux)
- invitations and save the date cards
- miscellaneous (last minute items)
Start a binder to collect relevant information, pictures, price quotes, and other related materials. Organization is key.
Research some of your major expensive items such as locations, photographers, bands, florists, and caterers. Keep their information on file; get references or contact samples and place them in your binder for future reference.
Start early by creating a guest list. Make a head count database to use throughout your planning process, with columns for contact info, RSVPs, gifts, and any other relevant information. Want to keep costs low? It may be brutal, but the best way to do it is to reduce your guest list to those special family members and friends.
Here are some ways to save money on a wedding:
- Stick to a budget. You may shift from one line to another but stay within your total budget.
- Cut the guest list. Cost per head can add up.
- Buy what is in season Flowers are a good example.
- Schedule your wedding event during an off-season or during the week.
- Use your network. Try to use people you know with skills such as cake decorating or photography.
- Have an informal rehearsal dinner. Go back to your house or a friend’s house for appetizers or another affordable option.
- Search for deals. Instead of buying decorations, try borrowing or renting them.
- Get crafty with your attendant gifts or decorations.
- Be flexible. Instead of hiring a photographer, just ask all your guests to send all of their pictures to you.
- Register for the right stuff.
People will have a tendency to want to buy you the “fun” gifts. So opt for a good quality set of cooking utensils and pans so you can make your meals at home.
- Hold off on your honeymoon so that you can save up for it or even go off season for cheaper price.
Wedding Bells: Starting Your Financial Life Together
Once the wedding is over, the practicality of day-to-day life together begins. In addition to dividing household responsibilities, couples will also need to determine who will pay the bills, track investments, review bank statements, and more. Although it’s not necessary to assign each task to one partner, it is critical that you have a system in place to ensure these tasks get done. Here are a few financial and estate-related items that recently married couples should consider.
Decide on whether or not to combine finances. You are free to make your own choices for what will work best for you and your partner in your marriage. Some couples have chosen to combine finances, while others have not done so. Another option is to do a hybrid approach where you each have your own account and then have an account together from which bills are paid. The point is to make sure that it works for both of you.
Review your beneficiaries.
Go through each of your accounts — including retirement plans and insurance — and ensure that the beneficiaries listed are still accurate. If you would like your spouse to receive the funds from your accounts in the event of your death, make him or her the beneficiary.
Revisit your insurance.
Upon getting married, it’s important to sit down and review both of your health, life, and car insurance plans. Review whether your coverage overlaps in certain areas, if one plan is better or cheaper, or whether you could be saving money by combining coverage.
Changing your name.
If you change your name upon marrying — to your spouse’s last name or to a hyphenated name — it’s important that you notify certain organizations of the change. You should notify the Social Security Administration immediately to ensure that your retirement account is properly credited, and also to request a new Social Security card. Change your name on all important documents and accounts. And remember to change your name on your driver’s license, which serves as the primary form of identification for most Americans.
Develop a budget
. Whether you already have individual budgets and want to combine them or you are new to budgeting, marriage marks an important time to sit down and create a plan for spending and savings. Your new budget should reflect your shared living situation and both of your incomes and expenses.
A prenuptial agreement outlines how assets will be divided in the event that the marriage ends. While some people consider prenuptial agreements to be unromantic or to represent a lack of faith, others feel they can ensure some security for both partners and help them know what to expect in the event the marriage ends.
Postnuptial agreements. If you’re already married and have come into wealth or you’ve just decided you want a financial agreement with your spouse, consider a postnuptial agreement. In some other cases, such as when one spouse enters into a business partnership with another individual, a postnuptial agreement may be an important contract to consider.