With Valentine’s Day behind us and spring approaching, there are undoubtedly some new engagements to celebrate and weddings on the horizon. Planning for your big day can be both exciting and stressful. There are questions to be asked, decisions to be made and money that ultimately is going to be spent. Though it may seem overwhelming at times, it is relatively easy to make informed and educated decisions throughout the process. Below are five key steps to take when planning:
- Set a budget. Sit down with your fiancé and have a heart to heart about how much you’re willing to spend on your nuptials and the post ceremony celebration. Be sure to address any money you have already set aside, contributions you can count on from family, and then set a plan in place for saving the rest. It’s important to be realistic. Yes, weddings can be expensive, but that doesn’t make it mandatory to start your new marriage in debt. Compromising is key in planning and in building your lives together. If you need help tracking or estimating your spending, you can visit www.weddingplanningonabudget.com for a free wedding budget excel template.
- Pick your must-haves. Ask yourselves what are the one or two most important things to have on your wedding day. A good DJ? A great photographer? Perhaps you’re a self-proclaimed “foodie” and you’d like the meal to be the highlight of your reception. Pick the top two items that you’re willing to spend a little extra on and then adjust your spending in other categories from there, if necessary. If you need help or tips on how to save money, check out Bridal Bargains: Secrets to Throwing a Fantastic Wedding on a Realistic Budget.
- Set a date. Preferably one at least 6 months away. In order to ensure you have the most cost-efficient wedding, give yourself enough time to plan. Ask yourself if you really need to get married on a Saturday in the peak of wedding season? Why not be unique and plan a fall or winter wedding on a Friday or Sunday? In addition to savings funds from planning in the off-season, you’ll cut costs by booking an alternate day from Saturday.
- Create a registry that saves in other areas. When building your registry, decide what you would benefit most from. Consider using websites such as www.amazon.com, which let you build a universal registry and add selections from a variety of websites to one central location. Or perhaps you don’t need anything new and you’re looking to take a great honeymoon or do some re-modeling on your place. Check out www.honeyfund.com which allows you to price out parts of your honeymoon or non-honeymoon items for your guests to “purchase” for you. This fund links to your PayPal account and “gifts” are deposited directly into the account for you to spend how you wish.
- Communicate. Preparing for a wedding can be stressful, but so can planning for the rest of your lives together. Remember to check-in with each other often. Set aside some time on a weekly basis to discuss how the plans are coming along, if you’re on or off budget, and more importantly how you envision your future together.
These tips can be utilized when planning for other parts of your lives together as well. Any time you and your fiancé have a goal you’re working towards, remember the above. For example, if you’re looking to purchase a new car, your first step is to determine how much you are willing to spend. From there, pick your one or two must-have features and then look for ways to save in other areas (perhaps a Hybrid, which will save you on gas). Set a realistic date for purchase, which will allow you adequate time to search and save, and as always, communicate throughout the process.
By Mary Beth Storjohann, CFP®, CDFA
Special to FPA