When it comes to planning a wedding, make no mistake, there are many societal and cultural expectations that the couple has to handle. There is a tendency to deploy lots of time, energy, planning and, yes, money for that special day. Here are some things to consider long before the big day arrives.
- 1 Have the money talk.
- 2 Create a budget toward the wedding and other future shared goals.
- 3 Discuss your five-year plans.
- 4 Speak to a financial advisor for a second opinion and/or new ideas.
- 5 Repeat the steps above on an ongoing basis in light of changes in your life (except the wedding, of course, which will, hopefully, only happen once!).
THE MONEY TALK This talk will be different depending on your current living arrangements—you are already living together or living apart but plan to move in together for the first time. Each party needs to be open about your expenses and income and how you will manage them as a couple. Do you want to have a joint account to deposit both incomes and cover the expenses? Maybe you prefer to maintain your individual accounts but open a joint account for common household expenses. Or you may assign the responsibility of certain expenses—you handle the car expenses, for example, and I will pay for groceries. Discuss the options, see if they work or if they need tweaking. Talking about money isn’t always easy, but not talking about it can lead to bigger issues later on. So getting it out of the way early often works well.
BUDGET Create a budget for the wedding, but not in isolation of other future shared goals. The wedding is a big day, but what about the day after? Will you be moving to a larger rented space or a new home? If you purchase land, that will influence how much you should be spending on the wedding. There is a difference between what you can spend and what you should spend on the big day.
THE FIVE-YEAR PLAN This is an extension of budgeting for future shared goals. Is there a plan to have children, which may impact where you choose to live now or in the future? How about going back to school full-time or part-time for one of you? If so, when and how much will this cost? How about relocating for work or just a different life experience—the way they do on House Hunters International? It helps to know these things before writing a cheque for your wedding hall.
SPEAK TO A FINANCIAL ADVISOR It helps to get an objective professional opinion on your ideas and the plans you have made to achieve them. Your advisor will either confirm what you’ve already figured out or bring new considerations to the table. And this experienced pro also can provide guidance in the implementation of your plans. It’s always good to have a fresh pair of eyes look at those plans as they may spot things you have missed.
REVIEW Our lives, priorities, circumstances and ideals change over time, so your financial plan should be flexible enough to adapt to these changes. If you review your plan annually, then you should be able to compare the previous year’s budget plans with the actual expenditures, to guide future budgets.
Above all, when your big day comes, take time to simply enjoy it. Don’t sweat the “small things” that didn’t go exactly according to plan. Remember the most important thing that day is celebrating the love for you and your partner…in front or your family and friends. It should be a once-in-a-lifetime experience and, trust me, the day will fly by. So enjoy the moment and have some fun!
Al Ramsay is TD Bank Group’s regional manager, LGBTA Business Development.