People don’t like talking about money at the best of times, let alone in that heady lead-up to your nuptials when you’re focused on seating plans and practising your signature bridal dance.
But you do need to broach the subject. Heck, with financial stress being the number one cause of relationship breakdown, the onus is on you to avoid being one of the 97,000 couples who divorce every year.
Here are 10 ways to help you build yourselves a firm financial foundation, for the wedding and beyond.
1. Decide whether you need a prenup
You don’t need to be Meghan-and-Harry loaded to benefit from a prenup: if one or both of you has substantial assets, and if you have kids from a previous relationship who need to be looked after, a prenup can be useful. Ask your solicitor for their advice, and be aware that these agreements can be set aside in some circumstances.
2. Set a budget for your wedding
MoneySmart research says the average Australian wedding costs $36,200, and 35% of those surveyed blew their wedding budget. So your job is to first set a realistic budget based on your financial means, and then stick to it. Being heavily in debt isn’t the best way to kick off a healthy relationship, and like anything important, it’s worth saving for rather than relying too much on credit.
3. Get married off-peak
If your wedding’s in winter, or on a Friday night for example, you’ll save money and you’ll have more choice of dates and venues. (See MoneySmart for more great tips.)
4. Don’t get married in a wedding venue
Hold your shindig in a restaurant. It will cost less and the food will be better.
5. Enlist your friends
If you’ve got bakers and wanna-be stylists amongst your friends and family, get them to do the flowers and decorations and/or the cake and give them lots of gushy credit for a job well done. They’ll be chuffed.
6. Don’t bother printing an order of service
No-one reads them. (This tip from a celebrant who does 70 weddings a year.)
7. Don’t waste money on fancy paper invites
E-vites are perfectly acceptable these days: they can be designed to your taste, and give people an easy, digital way to RSVP. They also allow you to track your RSVPs easily.
8. Decide on a budget together
Once you’re married you should set a joint budget if you haven’t already, including a plan for paying off any remaining wedding debt. It’s a good way to get the subject of finance on the table and have both parties be open and honest about their goals and their spending.
9. Have a joint account for bills
Set it up, decide how much you each contribute and when, and attach a debit card that you use to pay on the due date. Money Magazine journalist Effie Zahos suggests you take turns paying the bills so you’re both aware of where the money’s going.
10. Keep your own, separate bank account
It’s wise to maintain some financial independence in the unfortunate event that the marriage gets rocky. Especially if there are kids involved.