You're probably already expecting to spend a serious amount of money on your nuptials. Weddings aren't cheap—even if you're trying to be as budget-savvy as possible. But your wedding marks the beginning of your fused financial future, the one you'll share with your partner for the rest of your lives, and you want to start off on the right foot. One thing all financial experts and wedding planners suggest is to be smart about your funds and think ahead. To get the inside scoop on what you can expect and how you can best prepare yourselves, we asked them to share six financial to-dos newlyweds should check off their lists.
Have the money conversation.
Discussing your budget is usually not the most exciting thing the two of you will talk about over the course of your marriage, but it's certainly one of the more important things. "People can get sticky about finances, particularly when it comes to whose earnings are going where in a relationship," says Byron Ellis, certified financial planner and managing director of United Capital Financial Life Management. "For example, do you both contribute equally to the household expenses, or do you each put in a certain amount based on who makes more money? Will either of you be the person who acts as the household banker (paying the bills, monitoring savings and investments, etc.), or will you sit down once a month to review your finances as a couple?" But, in order for you to successfully (and peacefully) merge your financial lives, it's important to learn how to work as a team.
Purchase wedding insurance.
The expenses you're about to shell out for your wedding are likely the most you've ever spent on a one-day event. So, if you're going to check off the cautionary "insurance" box on one thing, let it be your wedding. "Make no mistake, a wedding is an investment and that investment should be protected from unforeseen circumstances!" says Andrea Freeman, wedding planner and owner of Andrea Freeman Events NYC. "Think of it this way: If your wedding is postponed due to a natural disaster or for any other reason, can you afford to plan another one? With wedding insurance you can."
Keep track of wedding expenses.
Whether you use Excel, Google Sheets, web-based apps, or pencil and paper, establish a way to keep track of your expenses. "It's entirely possible to have over 30 companies working on your wedding, so imagine the number of bills you'll have," says Vicky Choy, wedding planner at Event Accomplished LLC in Arlington, Virginia. "When you get a contract from an event professional, it will likely spell out the payment terms, when payments are due, and how much you should include in each payment, so make note of the due dates and amounts in your tracking system." Remember that payments can be due at different times, and not always just before the wedding.
Don't get dragged down in debt.
"With money already a stress on a relationship, overspending on your big day could lead to deeper debt that will not be beneficial to the health of your marriage," says Stacy Francis, founder of Savvy Ladies and CEO of Francis Financial. A better idea: Save for your wedding rather than borrow. "This could avoid paying the interest associated with loans and credit card debt," she adds. "If you do not have the cash to pay either a loan or credit cards, avoid financing your wedding with these payment methods." Remember that borrowing from your 401(k) requires you to repay the loan within five years. "Or else you would have to pay taxes on the amount that was withdrawn as well as a 10 percent early withdrawal penalty," says Francis.
Consider joining your accounts.
It might seem scary for those used to managing their own accounts and having the only dwindling money the result of their sole expenses. Ellis points out that merging your accounts is an important step in marriage. "Even if you keep some of your current individual accounts, you should at least set up a joint checking account and a joint savings account that you both contribute to," he says. "This way, you can have an account you can use to pay bills and cover your joint expenses, even if you choose to maintain separate savings accounts or other investments." If the idea of opening new accounts is too much for you to handle at this moment, he suggests adding your spouse to your account so she or he has access in case of an emergency.
Meet with a financial advisor.
If you have some extra cash to put in savings thanks to the generous gifts family and friends gave you at your wedding, now is a great time to meet with a financial planner. "These certified professionals can help put a comprehensive plan in place to help prepare you for all financial matters that may arise in your marriage," says Francis. "Especially if you are concerned over how financing your wedding will affect your financial future, sitting down with a financial expert can help you plan for the special days and all of the special days after that."