Wedding expenses can add up quickly. The price of a wedding in the U.S. reached an all-time high last year, with the average couple spending more than $35,000 on the celebration. For young couples with less to spend, it can be even more difficult. And, while you might have one budget in mind, your partner’s idea may be very different.
The costs associated with preparing for the big day – from hiring a photographer right down to the floral arrangement – can be a source of tension for many couples. Here are five financial tips to consider before you say, “I do.”
1. Discuss divvying up wedding expenses
Decide early on how much you and your significant other are committed to spending. If your families are chipping in, have a meeting with them to figure out exactly what their budgets look like, too. While you may have some general ideas in mind – like one party pays for the venue and the other handles the catering – it’s also important to look at the big picture and establish an approximate total budget at the onset of planning. This will help you decide which areas of the wedding you want to splurge on and the parts on which you can tighten the belt.
2. Set aside “just in case” money
Your life doesn’t take a break just because you’re planning one of its biggest events. If an unexpected emergency arises, you’ll want to have some money set aside – especially as wedding expenses rack up. The costs of an unplanned medical issue, work stoppage or family emergency can be difficult to manage in the best of times. To avoid having to dip into your wedding budget to cover the costs, set aside emergency funds.
3. Make a plan of action for bill paying
Wedding planning brings with it all kinds of bills, from hiring numerous vendors to putting down security deposits and even just paying off your own credit card. Create a spreadsheet or calendar and decide on a plan ahead of time to make sure you meet payment deadlines. Designate one day each week to handle bill paying together, which can make the task go by faster and help prevent any surprise expenses. Couples who frequently argue about finances early on in their relationship are proven to be at a greater risk of divorce – so developing a system to manage wedding costs is good practice for handling financial obligations well down the road.
4. Keep each other in check
Make note of your spending strengths and weaknesses, and ask your fiancé to do the same so you can keep each other at budget. If you want to know when your significant other spends more than $100 on an item, make that clear. Conversely, if you can’t resist overspending when you’re out with friends, you might want to ask your partner to hold you accountable. Transparency around your spending will help pave the way for clearer communication on many other relationship issues, too.
5. Plan for post-wedding expenses
After months or years of planning, there’s no better feeling than finally enjoying your wedding day. But you don’t want your first few years as a married couple to be financially stressful because you blew the bank on one night, no matter how important it was. Whether it’s planning for a honeymoon abroad or bringing a little one into the picture, make sure you and your spouse are clear on what big expenses you need to save for after your wedding. It’s hard to start saving for these big life events before your wedding even takes place if you don’t talk about it first.
Planning a wedding can be a stressful experience. The key to working out wedding finances is to stay organized, make responsible decisions and maintain open lines of communication with your fiancé and any others who are helping with wedding costs. Nobody wants rain on their wedding day, and that includes the dark cloud of debt. Follow these tips to walk down the aisle with a bright future ahead.
About the author
Christopher Tracy is President, Financial Wellness at Mvelopes by Finicity, a direct-to-consumer budgeting tool and financial wellness platform. He knows that money, and the way you manage it, is the great equalizer for people of all ages and lifestyles, and his passion for helping consumers better manage their finances drives him forward. Christopher graduated from Cal Poly before getting his MBA from Harvard Business School.