You thought finding the love of your life and picking out a ring was intense …
Now comes the real fun—planning the wedding! We’ve got financial tips for the two of you for before the wedding, the wedding itself and after you’re married. We hope to help it all go off without a hitch.
Before the Wedding
It’s no secret that couples tend to fight about money more than anything. To try and nip this in the bud, it’s good to have a heart-to-heart discussion about money before tying the knot. Here are some topics you should cover:
- Spending Styles – There are careless spenders and there are frugal spenders. Which are you? If one of you likes to shop and the other pinches pennies, now’s the time to determine how the money will be spent and how each person’s needs will be met.
- Saving Styles – Just like spenders, there are different kinds of savers. One of you might be more aggressive and the other conservative with their savings. Make a plan now on where, when and how you’re going to save your money.
- Goals and Plans – Does your future have a house, graduate degree or maybe your own business in it? Make sure you both have similar goals, or are at least aware of each other’s plans. Come up with a plan on where you both want to be in five, ten and twenty years from now.
- Children – Don’t wait before it’s too late to discover you’re on different pages with wanting children. Discuss how many, when and if you’re both planning on working afterwards. Also touch on where you want to live and what schools the children should attend. If you’re thinking private school, you might need to start saving sooner than later.
- Financial Snapshot – Time to determine how much debt each of you have, your credit scores and any investments you might have. Not sure what your credit is like? Visit Know Your Score to learn more. Do the math to come up with a net worth statement for each of you, showing what you have and what you owe.
- Money Management – Who’s going to manage the money and pay the bills? Joint and/or separate accounts? Come up with a plan so you both will know what’s going on with your finances.
- Prenup? – Prenuptial agreement, it’s not just for millionaires and celebrities. Nearly 5% of couples getting married for the first time and 20% of people going into second marriages have one. It might be a good idea for you if:
- One or both of you already have children; it can protect their inheritance.
- There’s a significant difference in assets between the two of you.
- You are a partner in a business or family business; it can help protect it.
Pretty much every woman has dreamed about this day since childhood. We’re not asking you to squelch any dreams here, but you may want to come up with a wedding budget before things get carried away.
- Determine how much you have to spend and who’s paying for what.
- Decide what kind of wedding you want. Something big and fancy or something small and intimate?
- List out all possible expenses. Check out our related links on the right for great wedding sites that can walk you through this step. Don’t forget to prioritize your final list.
- How many guests? Don’t forget to ask your families for input, they’re sure to have their own ideas about the guest list. Estimate a range of $50-$100 per guest, depending on the size and style of wedding.
Many sites these days (again check out our links) have ways for you to plan and track your spending. Not sure where to start? One wedding expert suggests breaking down the expenses this way:
- 50% for the reception location, rentals, food and beverages
- 10% for the flowers and décor
- 10% for photographer and videographer
- 10% for bridal attire
- 10% for fees, invitations and transportation
- 10% for the honeymoon
To stay within your budget, use one of the online budget tools to stay on track, contact two or three vendors for everything (get every quote in writing!) and ask for discounts if you’re getting married in the slow season.
After the Wedding
Think it’s all over after the rice is thrown? Think again. Many of your financial decisions are just getting started. You might need to:
- Open a joint account at your credit union
- Decide whose health insurance to use
- Write or update your wills
- Buy life insurance and/or change beneficiaries on current insurance
- Change beneficiaries on retirement funds
- Update your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance; don’t forget to include your new rings!
- Combine your auto insurance coverage; it’s cheaper
- Choose a tax filing status—single or joint?
- Change names on these legal documents (if applicable):
- Driver’s license
- Social Security card
- Income tax forms
- Voter registration
- Credit union or other financial institution accounts
- Credit cards
- Insurance policies