Weddings are a wonderful (and fun) cornerstone of our American culture. However, since I was married more than a decade ago, it seems like the cost continues to rise.
Weddings are increasingly becoming more complex and expensive. Couples are hiring photographers with drones to capture unique overhead shots of the ceremony. Brides now purchase as many as three dresses: one for the ceremony, one for the reception and one for the after-party.
Dresses, dancing, and drones can really add up. The average cost of a wedding in the U.S. is now a staggering $31,000 according to TheKnot.com’s latest annual Real Weddings Study. To put that into context, according to the latest U.S. census the average household income is less than $52,000!
This makes me wonder how many brides and grooms really talk about their finances before planning their big day. I’m a huge believer in actually talking about money with your bride-(or groom) to-be well before the wedding. Starting this discussion early is an important foundation for your financial future, and planning the financial aspects of a wedding is the perfect catalyst to start the conversation.
By talking about your combined financial picture you can be sure that your wedding budget aligns with your intermediate and long term goals that also involve money like paying off existing credit card debt, buying a home, relocating for work, having children, paying off student loans, etc.
You don’t want to spend the next ten years paying for one blow-out wedding weekend.
I suggest that you sit down with your fiancé and ask each other the following questions before you start planning your trip down the aisle. It’s important to do this without judgment. This is a fact building exercise to help you understand the other person’s financial habits. This will hopefully lead to a healthy ongoing dialog about your joint finances.
1. Are you a saver or a spender?
2. What is your credit score, and why do you think it’s that number?
3. Do you want us to combine our bank accounts?
4. How do you want to budget our money once we’re married?
5. Do you want children, and if so how many?
6. What are your career goals?
7. Have you already started saving for retirement?
8. What are your financial goals, and are there any goals you think we should accomplish together?
While these questions might not sound like they’re related to a wedding budget, by answering the above questions you’ll have a better understanding of your financial future together. Create your wedding budget based on your current financial situation and your future financial goals.
There’s no wrong amount of money to spend on a wedding. Drones videotaping the ceremony, a third dress for the after party or Maroon 5 playing at the reception may all be worth it, but not if you’ll be paying for it over the next decade.
Certified financial planner Wes Moss offers financial and accessible investment advice to Atlanta Bargain Hunter readers.