Money is the number one thing that married couples fight about. But do you realize that the tension surrounding money begins long before the happy couple say ‘I do?’ Wedding costs can rapidly escalate out of control which is why it’s so important to begin the planning by devising a realistic budget. And once you’ve got the numbers crunched, it’s equally important that you both stick to the budget.
And while a wedding budget doesn’t sound all that glamorous, it doesn’t have to be a bad thing. In fact, planning your wedding without a budget is almost guaranteed to land you into serious financial debt. What’s the key to success? As it will be throughout your marriage, open, honest, two-way communication is an absolute must.
Newly-engaged couples must talk about how each envisions his and her special day. Women work on the assumption that guys don’t care about the details but that’s not always true. It is, after all, the man’s big day, too and he has a family to please as well.
Once the excitement of the engagement wears off, go somewhere quiet and talk about what’s important to each of you in regards to your wedding day. Listening to your partner’s opinion is as important as talking so be sure to do both. Then, make a list of what you both want (to arrive in a horse-drawn carriage, lobster, renaissance theme, color scheme, etc.) and what are absolute necessities (for example a photographer, caterer, rings, etc.). You’re going to use this information when it’s time to allocate your budget.
Once you both have an idea of what’s important, it’s time to crunch the numbers. You’ve got to determine how much money is available now (for example, in savings accounts, stocks/bonds, real estate, trust funds), how much you’ll have to commit to saving from your regular income streams, and how much you can realistically expect others to kick in. Depending on how far out the actual wedding date is you may want to consider opening a higher-interest bearing account for the money so that it can earn interest.
When considering what others may be able to put towards the cause it’s really important that you don’t make unrealistic demands. Take whatever others are willing to contribute graciously and try not to belabor the issue. Getting angry or disappointed in the amounts you are being given isn’t a very mature way of handling the situation.
When you know where the money’s coming from and how much is coming, you’ll know how much you’ll be able to spend. Now make another list of all wedding-related expenses and allocate a dollar amount or the percentage you’re willing to spend next to each item. This will help when you’re actually contracting for these services. Remember that if you exceed your budgeted amount in one category, you’ll have to scale back another so your budget will stay balanced. Because budgeting is so very important for most couples, you’ll find that wedding budget worksheets, software and other tools are available everywhere, so go find one and start using it right now!