It’s wedding season – a time of celebration, honeymoons and brides and grooms who dream of living happily ever after.
It’s interesting how wedding fashions go in cycles. In my day, it was quite sufficient to put on your kaftan and roman sandals, arrange a few flowers in your hair and exchange shell rings on a beautiful sandy beach.
More recently, we’ve had a long spell where it wasn’t seen to be necessary to get married at all.
Nowadays, it seems the lavish wedding is back in vogue and young couples find themselves with the challenge of putting on a wedding that matches or outshines the expectations of their peers but without going broke. If you are in this category, there are some important finance tips you need to remember.
Getting married is all about you and your partner making a public commitment to each other in a way that you will each remember and reflect back on for the rest of your lives. It’s something that you create for your benefit – not anyone else’s. Your guests are there to share your experience, but it’s your day, not theirs.
Creating a memorable and beautiful wedding doesn’t have to be expensive.
Getting married is one of the first milestones in your life together. You have a whole future to plan that includes developing your careers, perhaps some travel, buying a house and having a family. Spend too much on the first milestone and there’s not much left for the others.
As a couple you will need to be able to talk about and agree on financial matters for the rest of your lives.
Disagreements about money are a leading cause of relationship difficulties, and planning a wedding will be a good test of how well you can work together to set priorities for your money.
Your attitudes towards money are determined by many different factors including your childhood experiences, your feelings about risk and security, and the degree to which you are willing to make short term sacrifices for long term gain.
Because you come from different backgrounds, it is very likely that you and your partner will have different attitudes towards money. That’s not to say that one of you is right and the other is wrong, but it does mean that you will have to try and understand each other’s perspective and reach compromises over areas where you differ.
The sooner you start talking together about the budget for your wedding the better.
It’s also important to agree who is paying for what. All parties who are making a financial contribution to the wedding should be part of the process of agreeing a budget.
It’s easy for costs to spiral out of control, so once you have set a budget, stick to it.
With an amount agreed, look at how you are going to finance it. Set aside whatever funds you have in a high interest bank account (see www.raboplus.co.nz) and add to that account by automatic payment each pay day.
It’s never a good idea to go into debt to pay for a wedding and doing so will create a big hurdle for you to get over before you can achieve your next big goal.
If you have to go into debt, keep your interest cost as low as possible, for example by borrowing small amounts from family members.
One of the biggest factors in the cost of a wedding is the number of guests, so keep it small.
There are many wedding websites with other useful tips on how to have a memorable wedding without spending a fortune (for example www.nzbride.co.nz).
Take a tip from the Chinese: for centuries, they have given money (‘ang pau’ or ‘red envelopes’) rather than gifts at weddings. The amount given is usually enough to cover the cost of the attendees.
One of the secrets to a happy life is to have lots of love and little or no debt.
If you use your money wisely, you won’t need to choose between having a happy day and living happily ever after.