Let's start this off right by saying congrats.
You've found The One – or to be more precise, the one you plan to making it work with. That's no small matter. Now, you're planning on sealing the deal with a celebration for the ages. But as you might've been warned, planning (or financing) a wedding is no small matter, either.
What to expect
A party tailor-made for you
These days, marriage and its requisite ceremonies can be as big or as small as you want. Not keen on a big do? The registry's right there and waiting. Can’t wait to celebrate it with all one hundred of your nearest and dearest, and their nearest and dearest, and their nearest and dearest? It's probably time to start saving.
... and three years of work crammed into one
But between visiting venues, organising seating charts, or picking clothes and menus, weddings can be a lot. Add in a 9-5 or 5-9 on top of this, and it's no wonder so many turn to planners for help.
Unfortunately all this after-hours work might also mean you have less time to unwind with your partner than you did before. This might feel contradictory to your goal of basically becoming the same blob of flesh.
But rest assured: if you've made it this far, you're both in it for the long haul. Don't forget to speak up if you need some help or some time to de-stress.
What's good to do
Plan out a budget
First things first: how much do you think your dream wedding would cost? For some people, it's $500 for a small, catered garden party. For others, it's a lot more. According to some it's $30,000 for the average Australian, but there's no need to follow the crowd.
Once you've got a number in mind, it's helpful to research how much wedding costs can add up to and which 'parts' need more money. Bear in mind these figures are indicative only. If for example, you think $300 is too much to spend on flowers, you can always allocate less.
From there we'd recommend creating a spreadsheet to track your wedding costs. This table could include the costs you plan to cover for your wedding – like catering, venues, or a celebrant – and up the top, columns for their budgeted amount and actual amount. This'll give you an overall picture of what you need to pay for and how much everything's costing so far.
A word of warning, though? Weddings tend to go over. Think about setting aside a buffer, say 5% of your budget, for unexpected costs.
.. and how you'll be financing it
By this point in time, most couples have a nice little pile of savings. Perfect for rolling around in, funding your home deposit, or funding part of a wedding with.
That said, weddings are a major expense for such a short occasion. While it might sound like the romantic thing to do, spending more than you can afford could hurt both your finances and your relationship down the track.
Realistically there are two options for most couples. One: save up for the occasion carefully. Or two: focus on tailoring your wedding day around the things that matter to you.
Save and pay smartly
When you're visiting venues or talking to caterers, ask whether they offer payment plans. These could grant you more time to manage and prevent you from feeling pinched too early on.
'Wedding costs' don't just mean the ceremony and nothing else. Your honeymoon is also included – and often, the one you'll splurge the most on. Instead of financing it on your own, could you ask your guests to contribute some money towards your trip as their wedding gift?
While turning to your folks might feel icky, it's also worth asking them for help. It's very possible they've already saved some money for this exact moment out of love, cultural expectations, or a combination of both.
Find little costs to cut
Tradition, shmadition. Your wedding's infinitely tailorable which means that if you'd rather lose the doves in order to have more $$ for the apartment you're saving up for? You totally can.
Start by talking to your partner about where you're willing to hold back to save a little cash. Logic will be your best friend in making these calls.
If you're planning an intimate ceremony do you really need a six-piece band? If you're not planning on printing that many photos, will you really need to pay an hourly rate for that flower frame? (Etcetera, etcetera.)
Getting your friends or family in on the action could also help, and as an added benefit, might help them feel like an important part of your special day.
Let's say you've one friend who's really keen on baking. Could you ask them to tackle the cake? Let them know while there's no expectations, it could be quite ... sweet ... of them.
Let's put it all together.
Have you ...
Figured out a budget and savings plan for your wedding, including a timeline?
Discussed what your priorities in your wedding are and where you're willing to save a little?
Researched ways you can save money, like package entertainment and venue and catering deals?
Prepared a wedding spreadsheet that both you and your partner can access and update?
Let’s take it from the top, and get it straight. What should healthy financial behaviour in a relationship look like?
You're willing to talk about your money
The good, the bad, and the under-the-bed cash stash: when it comes to talking about money, you're willing to bare it all. While some topics might make you squirm or others leave you searching Google for answers, you ultimately recognise that money's far too important a topic to remain silent about.
You share or understand each other's financial values
While you don't need to see eye-to-eye on every little detail, sharing or respecting each other's financial values is important. It means you'll understand each other's financial habits and how they fit into the broader picture.
You make and manage financial decisions together
Good relationships are founded on equality. That means you should have an equal say on all things, no matter whether it's where you go for dinner or when you leave, but especially when it comes to how the two of you manage your finances.
Sometimes, what looks like a fair or normal way of dealing with money together might just be the opposite. Here are three major red flags - but be warned: they're often subtler than you'd think.
Your partner shuts down every money conversation
Communication is the lifeblood of relationships. If your partner's not willing to talk to you about debts, savings or income flow, even when you're splitting the rent, it's not a positive sign.
They make you feel like a fool
No-one likes being made to feel incompetent, especially about something as important as money. If your partner makes you doubt your financial ability - or worse, openly mocks it - it could be a sign they're trying to make you rely on their support.
Money responsibilities feel unfair
While we all want to support our partners, taking on too much financial responsibility can be a burden, both logistically and emotionally speaking. Moreover, it could negatively impact your own savings and financial future.