When Joachim and I set the date for our wedding we immediately went into project management mode. We had two end goals in mind for our special day;
- For everyone in attendance, including us, to have a blast.
- We did not want to sacrifice our down payment on a house for one, albeit important, day.
Every spending decision that we made in regards to our wedding had to pass those two goals.
We then identified the 5 areas that we did not want to overspend on:
- The guest list! We both wanted the people who were sharing our special day to be important to us. That meant a lot of back and forth between our parents and us but in the end we didn’t see the point of paying for “acquaintances” to be at our wedding. Why would you invite and pay for someone to be at your special day that a) you have never met and b) you are being pressured into inviting. Keep your list to only those that you want present and if someone other than the person you are marrying wants you to invite a guest who is not on your list politely inform them that the expense for that person is theirs not yours.
- The venue. We had a special connection to our wedding destination so it was important for us to celebrate there. If you do not have a venue that is meaningful to you then make sure where you choose to get married does not require a lot of extra expenses to set the ambience that you are looking for. I am all for napkins that match the bow on my chair but if it isn’t part of the package don’t bother no one will notice that they are mis-matched. Run your venue and decor spending through the do we need it to make our day special check list.
- Food: If you are having a wedding at any time when people normally eat i.e. lunch or dinner do not scrimp on the food. Unless of course you want everyone to be super cranky and leave before the speeches and dance. This does not mean that you have to go overboard on gourmet food but there should be something available when you are getting your pictures done and a meal of some sort for afterwards. We served BBQ from the back of a pick-up truck at our wedding! It not only went along with our theme there was something for everyone to eat. Duck Confit may be your favourite food but it is disappointing when you pay for something that half your guests leave on the table uneaten.
- Booze, open bar or not. The big question to ask yourself on this decision is related to your guest list. Do you really want the feud between your cousin and her step mother fuel by unlimited alcohol? It is human nature to indulge if anything is free. We went down the middle on serving alcohol. Each table had a bottle of red and white wine and we had a cash bar. Remember it is your day and your party what is going to make you happy?
- Clothing. I loved my wedding dress and have worn it since at several tea parties with my daughters. Chances are neither one of them are going to wear it on their special day. Joachim on the other hand has had several occasions to wear his suit and Birkenstocks it makes me smile every time I see him in them. It really does not make sense to buy something that you are going to wear just the once but again if it meets the goals for your wedding than by all means go for it!
Getting married is a special day and it should be celebrated. However, I often meet with clients who did not have a spending plan for their wedding and have regretted the day because not only are they are still paying for that one day it has set them back from reaching other life goals such as home ownership or becoming parents.
Having clear goals for your wedding that you can measure spending decisions against can help you stick to a plan for your money. If you know you will need to dip into a line of credit or credit cards do you have a strategy to pay them off in a timely manner? Often times we want to make our future life partner happy by going along with their financial decisions. We don’t want to dampen their spirits with the “Money Talk”. However, waiting until after you say, “I do,” might end up impacting the success of your marriage.