By Carla Hindman
Director of Financial Education, Visa Canada
Many people recall their wedding day as one of their happiest, filled with cherished memories and promises of a bright future.
But at an average cost of more than $32,000 (according to a recent survey by Weddingbells magazine), it’s not surprising that some weddings start couples off on the wrong financial footing, setting the stage for future money problems.
Marriage unites two lives, including two separate financial track records. While you each may bring assets and savings to the table, if one or both of you are burdened with student loans, car payments or high credit card balances, that can have a bearing on how you start out life together.
Given that financial problems play a major role in many divorces, doesn’t it make sense to start your marriage off on the right foot by communicating openly about finances?
A good place to start is with the wedding itself. Long before making any concrete wedding plans, have a candid discussion with your spouse-to-be about what you can and cannot afford.
Economizing doesn’t mean doing without a memorable wedding – there are many ways to minimize costs by planning carefully and being flexible.
First, create a budget. Unless you’re a professional wedding planner, you probably have no idea how many expenses you’ll encounter: invitations and postage, marriage license, clergy and location fees, flowers, bridal gown and groom’s tuxedo, rehearsal dinner and reception, photography, catering, limousine, parking attendants, engagement and wedding rings, gifts for wedding participants, honeymoon expenses – and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
There are tons of good wedding budgeting tools available online – a simple Google search yields templates, calculators and worksheets to help you get started.
There are many ways to trim costs. For example, consider whether inviting people you barely know will make your wedding any more enjoyable or memorable? Or would you rather spend more time with the people you love? Does it have to be a Saturday in June, or can you be more flexible on the date? Is an expensive sit-down dinner reception a must?
And don’t be afraid to negotiate on prices for photographs, flowers, food and other items. Check into rentals – these days anything from wedding dresses to centerpieces can be found at rental outlets. A good wedding planner can more than pay for himself or herself by bargaining on your behalf.
Of course, planning your wedding is only one of many financial decisions you and your spouse will make together. The more you know about each other’s financial state and philosophy going in, the better your odds for a successful marriage.
Practical Money Skills, a free personal financial management site sponsored by Visa Canada, offers some good thoughts to help start the financial conversation with your spouse-to-be. Visit the ‘Marriage’ section on www.practicalmoneyskills.ca for details.
A little thoughtful planning can have you singing a happy tune at your celebration instead of “Wedding Bell Blues.”
Carla Hindman directs the Practical Money Skills program for Visa Canada. More budgeting and personal finance tips can be found at www.practicalmoneyskills.ca. As always, consult a financial professional regarding your particular situation.