The wedding industry has done a wonderful job of manipulating couples into believing that their wedding day is the one day of their lives when no expense should be spared. Buying into this can mean the difference between having a healthy nest egg or beginning married life in debt and with money issues hounding you from Day 1. Unfortunately, many couples choose the latter:
75% of people getting married either never set up a wedding budget or don't stick to the plan they develop. There is debate on how much money trouble contributes to divorce, but financial issues do have an effect on married life. If you are beginning your marriage in debt rather than with a solid foundation for your retirement account, these financial issues are bound to be amplified. A Creighton University Center for Marriage and Family study found that money is one of the main obstacles preventing newly married couples from being satisfied. The biggest concerns causing the dissatisfaction included debt brought into the marriage and the couples' financial situation. On average, a U.S. couple spends $28,800 for its wedding, according to a new Web site set up by The Wedding Report, which provides statistics and market research for the wedding industry. You can see the average cost of a wedding in your specific city by typing in your zip code. In some large cities, such as San Francisco, the average wedding costs $50,000 or more. To make matters even worse, these averages do not include the cost for the honeymoon, the engagement ring, a bridal consultant or a wedding planner. Add $5,000 for an average honeymoon and $3,500 for an average engagement ring and you are up to $37,300 from the U.S. average -- and you're still not counting a bridal consultant or wedding planner.
The bad news doesn't stop there. The huge cost of a wedding often means that the couple borrows money to pay for the affair, meaning the true cost balloons with interest payments. Wedding loans often come with double-digit interest rates and can mean that a newly married couple is still paying for its wedding years after the event.
Don't get tunnel vision: The trap that many couples fall into is that they focus exclusively on the big day. When you're zeroed-in on a single event, costs can quickly rise in an attempt to make everything perfect. What you need to keep in mind are the dreams and plans you have together after the wedding. When you bring these goals -- and their associated costs -- into the equation, it is much easier to skip something on your wedding day. Stick to a budget: The wedding industry will do everything in its power to separate you from your money on your wedding day. It'll argue that you should spare no expense, because a wedding is a once-in-a-lifetime event for which only the best will do. Don't buy it. Make a budget -- preferably one that leaves you with no debt -- and stick with it. Your life together entails a lot more than a single day of celebration, so you should not ruin your finances for years. Compromise: The ability to compromise is one that you will need countless times as a married couple. Your wedding day is a perfect place to begin practicing this art. Realize that the compromises you make are meant not to deprive you of something you want on your wedding day but rather to free up that money for things you want to do together in future years. It's important to remember that your wedding day is the celebration of the beginning of your life together, shared with friends and family. It's not about the amount you paid for all the decorations, entertainment and food. Your wedding is the first large financial decision that you will make together, and how you handle the financial side will go a long way to determining your financial situation in your first years of married life.