A Guide To Wedding Budgets: What's Really Worth Spending On
Have an honest talk about it
You’re about to become fully intertwined with someone for the rest of your life—that means becoming radically honest with them about money; your history with it, your anxiety about it, your pride in it, and how you spend it. If you haven’t already had the “money talk” with your spouse-to-be, now’s the time.
When I first discussed a wedding budget with my now-husband, we started out with different priorities. I prized a unique wedding location, high-quality photos and video, and dresses for me and my bridesmaids. He valued great food, delegating day-of tasks, and for me to be happy. We both wanted to stay on-budget, and we ended up creating a new list of shared priorities that made us happy.
Wedding planning is a wonderful launchpad for marriage. Setting a budget with your partner will inspire a conversation about your values, your relationships with family and friends, and the compromises you’re willing to make.
Start a wedding fund, set a budget—then set an actual budget
Right when you become engaged, or even beforehand, start a wedding fund. Now is the time to start investing for it, especially if you have more than a year. You and your fiancé can start putting in a set amount each month, with automated instructions into an low risk investment account so that it can start compounding for your wedding.
Some couples like to discuss their wedding budget, ring budget, and honeymoon budget to align their goals before they get engaged so that they can have a bigger pool of money. For example, sometimes the man assumes his fiancée wants a bigger ring, but she might prefer to save more money to buy a vacation home instead and wait to upgrade to a bigger ring down the road.
Create a spreadsheet of your wants and their costs. Identify the most important items and add those costs upfront, identify things you’d be willing to cut and build in an extra 10 to 15 per cent cushion (trust me).
Unless you work in the wedding industry, it can be impossible to predict the actual costs. You may find your target budget becomes unattainable. If so, reassess. Are you willing to spend more to have the wedding you want? Or could you cut back and still be happy? Bottom line: don’t go into debt, and make sure you save for the honeymoon. Recalibrating your budget may be painful, but once you find something realistic, stick to it.
Differentiate your wants from what others want
Many weddings include a financial gift from family members. That can come with strings attached, like a required guest list, or an unspoken mandate about how religious the ceremony is. Sorting this out may require frank conversations with your loved ones. Differentiating between what you want and what others want from your wedding is an important step in staying on-budget.
I have to confess: We did all the budgeting we could. But in the end, we still decided to splurge. We have no regrets and the most important thing is our financial choices were made jointly.
Angelina Yao is a former portfolio manager at BlackRock and the founder of Heels & Yield, which offers female-focused financial management consultancy services. Find out more on heelsandyield.com