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Biblical stewardship in weddings

wedding-in-three-months-part2

I’m not a proponent of rushed engagements, let me be clear. Yet, I don’t recommend any particular length of engagement because every relationship is different. I have some questions though that I propose to Bible-believing couples they can ask themselves when making a decision on how long to be engaged for.

What I don’t recommend is deciding on an engagement time frame based on a wedding planning time frame. I believe the engagement (a time of transition to marriage), should be seen as more than just a time to plan a wedding.

I would be happy to write about a wedding planned for two years that prioritised the purpose of engagement and focused on preparing for marriage! So let me know if yours is such!

 

 

Patrick and Laura’s wedding was planned with a short timeline in mind. They wanted to close the distance gap (one living in the US, the other in Singapore) as soon as they get married. Given the legal process they have to go through (this is still in process at the time of this writing) the waiting time involved in that, and a marriage certificate being pertinent, they decided to get married in three months.

On Part 1 of this blog post, I shared about how Patrick and Laura picked their vendors, how they planned their actions, and how they split tasks between the two of them. I was very curious to know about the latter because they had to plan their wedding while being in two different continents! That’s not easy, but they were able to do it.

For this Part 2, they share about the help they needed in planning their wedding, the challenges they encountered, what their wedding budget was like, and what their tips and advice are for couples planning a wedding with a shorter timeline in mind.

 

 

1.  Did you ask help from people when you planned your wedding?

Patrick: Definitely! We couldn’t have pulled it off without the help from friends and family. Laura’s friends in Singapore were gracious enough to volunteer as hosts and coordinators for the wedding day. This relieved us of the burden of having to run our own show.  A few other friends helped with producing some of our decors. Also, my parents blessed us with $5,000 USD for us to use for the wedding at our discretion. We wanted to be financially wise by not taking on a loan, so the gift from them was very helpful.

 

2.  Every couple experiences challenges during the planning stage of the wedding. What were yours?

Patrick: One of them was the distance obviously. I couldn’t physically be there with Laura as she met up with vendors. She had to repeat to me everything she talked about with the vendors so I can still be involved in making decisions. For many other things, I just had to trust her judgement.

The short timeline required us to act fast, which added to the overall stress during that period. But we still would rather go through that than prolong our being apart from each other.

Laura: Our cultural differences, while making our relationship rich and colourful, brought about some challenges too. The most pronounced part of it were the differences in our family’s traditions and expectations especially around weddings. We had to walk each other through the background of those expectations so we get a better understanding where our families our coming from.

 

3.  What was your overall budget for the wedding?

Patrick: We set our venue package budget to USD5000. We made the estimate based on the templates and budgeting tools we found online. They pointed out that around 50% of the expenses will be for food, venue, and decors. Our venue package included all that. Then we set a budget of another USD5000 for everything else including our wedding rings, honeymoon (in Singapore), photography, the wedding dress, and other logistics.

Laura: After the wedding, we ran through our budget sheet against our actual expenses and everything came up to about USD10,000 which was the target we set.

 

 

4.  What is your encouragement/advice for couples planning their wedding with a budget in mind and with a tight timeline?

The newlyweds shared:

  • Create your priority list.

Decide which elements of a wedding are essential to you, and which ones you can do without. If you allow non-essentials to creep in, wedding expenses could balloon out of control. You could take on immense debt to have a grand wedding, but after a certain point, there are diminishing returns to the extra amount you spend.

  • Manage your guest list size.

Make it only as large as you need it to be. You don’t have to accommodate everyone.

  • Begin with the end in mind.

Couples can get bogged down by the details of the wedding. Remind yourselves of the end goal - which is to be married!

  • Seek help.

Asking help from people was probably the most humbling part of the experience. We are both very independent, so we had to go out of our comfort zones to ask help from people. And it was all worth it.

  • Take breaks.

Remember to take breaks from planning and have fun with your partner. Always remind yourselves why you’re marrying her/him in the first place.

  • Have a sense of humour.

Laura: I remember telling Patrick a lot of jokes. Sometimes he just laughed at me while I laughed at my own jokes.  It’s an effective way of reducing stress and overcoming disappointments. It also strengthened our emotional connection by creating a positive atmosphere. The feeling that we get after laughing helped us stay grounded and united.

  • Invest in your spiritual life.

Regular prayer time goes a long way. The wedding provided opportunities for miracles to happen. It was an invitation to our loved ones to be generous, loving and kind towards us and to one another.

 

 

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wedding-in-three-months-part1

I’m often asked by couples what the ideal time frame is to plan a wedding. My answer is always a question, “How long do you want to be engaged for?”

Understanding and agreeing on how long you want to be engaged for puts more focus on your relationship than on the scale of the wedding you’re dreaming to have. Here’s my blog post that talks more about this.

One couple who decided on their wedding planning timeframe primarily based on how long they wanted to be engaged for was Patrick and Laura.

They planned their wedding in barely three months.

 

 

Patrick and Laura met through a common friend. They were put in touch in a chat group. And as the virtual conversations progressed, the common friend decided to drop out of the chat group leaving Patrick and Laura all to themselves to talk. Their friendship grew and soon realised that they liked each other. So  they decided to date exclusively in spite of being continents apart.

They had planned to see each other in their home cities to learn more about each other’s friends and families.

From the very start, they were upfront to each other about their intention - to find a spouse. So it did not take long for them to decide, through their dating relationship of eight months, that they would like to marry each other.

They got engaged in November 2018 in Los Angeles. A few days after, Laura had to fly back to Singapore where she was working. They were very much aware that they had to close the distance gap between them when they get married. Holding different citizenships, one of them obviously needs
to relocate to the other person’s city. They decided that Laura will be the one moving to America once they’re wed. This process involves applying for a spousal visa for her that they can only initiate once they’re married.

Convinced that getting setup for marriage is more important than the type of wedding they wanted to have, they decided to keep their engagement to at most four months.

During the first few weeks of engagement, they focused on setting up their foundations. They prayed and fasted together while also asking for prayers from their church community. They also started researching on the legal requirements for Laura’s visa application, and the legal marriage rites that are available to them. And they also quickly reached out to the church for pre-marriage counselling.

I asked them about their experience in planning their wedding that Michael, my husband, and I had the honour to attend and emcee. Here’s part 1 of what they’ve shared:

 

 

1.  How did you decide on your wedding venue?

Laura: We agreed on our aesthetic vision and our budget before making the search. We wanted it semi-outdoor, with natural light, with high ceiling, with a tropical green garden, and fit for 40 guests. Then we did a Google search using these descriptions. Lewin Terrace here in Singapore showed up as the top result. I visited their space, then showed videos and photos to Patrick as he was overseas. We instantly fell in love with it! We didn’t look for anything else since it matched our vision plus it qualified for our budget.

 

2.  How did you find your other major vendors?

Laura: What’s great about Lewin Terrace is that they have strong partnerships with other wedding vendors. Part of the venue rental package are the florals, decors, and catering. Then they recommended a photographer too. This made the search easy for us because they had most of what we needed.

*Tip from The Asian Mrs. Blanding: I agree that a packaged deal that includes most of the wedding services usually ends up cheaper than finding them individually yourself. Reason is that the key vendor (in this case, the venue) has already negotiated for a long-term partnership price with these different vendors, bringing down the price that gets passed down to you. It’s a great option for couples who have a tight planning timeline!

 

 

3.  You were physically apart when you were planning your wedding. And you had a short timeline - just three months! What were the steps you took to pull it all off?

The couple shared:

     a. Pursuing pre-marriage counselling

This was a non-negotiable for us. We’ve learned from our married friends how important preparing for marriage is. So even with our distance, we sought for a way to go through counselling. Laura’s church pastor and wife from the Every Nation Church Singapore were very accommodating to our request to counsel us over Skype! It was the best investment of our time.

     b.  Constant communication

We had to communicate daily, even several times a day through calls and messaging to update each other of our progress. Communication also assured us of our availability for each other.

     c. Quick decision-making

We established our “guiding principles” first for the wedding (something we learned from The Asian Mrs. Blanding!). This allowed us to make decisions on the details faster. We also had to stay away from Pinterest or Instagram after we’ve made up our decisions. We didn’t want to be swayed to changing our mind with the hundred other options out there.

     d. Organised file sharing

We used Google Docs a lot. This is so much better than sharing attached files. We always have the latest version of our updates with Google Docs on Drive.

     e. Use of available online tools

For setting up our foundations, we read up on The Asian Mrs. Blanding’s posts and downloaded her tools. One that we used a lot was her 7-Day Devotional that helped us through our prayer time. We also used a lot of the planning tools from the Knot.

For free graphic design tasks, we used Canva.com.

     f. Regular prayer time

We prayed at the start and prayed all throughout our engagement. We asked our friends to pray for us too.

 

4.  How did you and Patrick split the tasks?

We split the tasks based on our strengths and capacities. Since Laura was the one in Singapore where we were going to have our wedding, she attended the meetups with the vendors. Patrick took care of the administrative part, accounting, sourcing of wedding rings, planning the solemnisation requirements, and organising our honeymoon.

On part 2 of this blog post, I share about how Patrick & Laura managed their budget, the challenges they faced, and their tips for couples planning a wedding like theirs.

 

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Outdoor weddings have undoubtedly become more and more popular. I’ve been seeing more and more couples taking their wedding party to the backyard, the courtyard, the beach, or wherever else a clear sky can be seen.

We had ours in a garden nestled under tropical trees overlooking the beach. The sun was high up in the afternoon, and everyone without sunglasses squinted throughout our ceremony. My face had collected sweat by the time my groom and I were permitted to kiss, and I didn’t feel as pretty as when I walked down the aisle. We were glad it was a sunny day, but I wouldn’t lie about hoping that it wasn’t THAT hot.

 

How to Prepare for Any Weather On Your Wedding Day
While I was indeed “walking on sunshine” on our wedding day, I couldn’t say I had nary a care for the sweltering hot temperature that day. (Photo by Iwan Photography in Bali)

 

If I was slightly unsettled even with clearly good weather on our wedding day, how much more would it be for couples whose outdoor weddings got rained on?

Here’s a post where I wrote about what four of my married female friends felt when the sky sent showers on their wedding day.

Knowing that the weather is out of our control, how can couples prepare for the least-liked weather conditions?

There are logistical steps that you can take to have a Plan B so that you and your guests don’t end up getting soaked in the rain and waking up the next day with a flu. Check out my post on 25 Things to Consider When Planning an Outdoor Wedding.

 

How to Prepare for Any Weather On Your Wedding Day
Dust and Carla were able to push through with their garden ceremony amidst the drizzle. Come dinner time, rained cats and dogs and everyone couldn’t step out of the venue. Click the photo to read about their story. (Photo by Oak St. Studios)

 

We all know that a Plan B is a Plan B because it’s not Plan A, our preferred plan. And for a bride and groom, that really sucks.

So how can you prepare yourselves mentally, emotionally, and more importantly, spiritually for any kind of disappointment that bad weather could bring on your wedding day?

Here are 5 steps you can take to prepare for any weather you wake up and sleep to, on the day you say “I do”:

 

1. Think about how you can showcase God’s creativity through your wedding.

I believe that God allows us to bring out our creativity on our wedding day. After all, He’s like a Father who’d like to see His children use their talents. We ought to create excellent things because our God is excellent.

Now, think of how you can make your wedding look just that - excellent. Oh, for sure your ideas abound! The good news is that we all want our wedding day to be superb, and that’s not a difficult thing to do.

Next, think about what a poorly executed wedding would look like. It obviously doesn’t showcase God’s creativity. List down the elements of such a wedding so you can really imagine them with your fiancé.

 

How to Prepare for Any Weather On Your Wedding Day
Photo by Sweet Ice Cream Photography on Unsplash

 

This time, ask yourselves these questions:

• If the flowers that you’ve been wanting to use for your wedding fail to bloom on THE day, are you failing God?

• If the sun dries up the lake where you wanted to get married in, are you failing God?

• If it rains on your wedding day, and you have to bring all your guests indoors for their safety, are you failing God?

The answer is definitely no because these things are obviously out of your control. So if you have anything on your “poorly-executed-wedding-be-like” list along those lines, scrap them.

When we end up feeling bad about not getting something we want, is it because we are just too insistent on what we want?

The exercise above is one way to help us check our intentions when we make certain decision for our wedding (or in life!). I know you will be planning excellently for the things that you can control, so be easy on yourself! God is already pleased at the intent and the effort you’ve put into planning!

 

How to Prepare for Any Weather On Your Wedding Day
John and Rachelle were all set for a beach wedding reception but it rained. Moving indoors didn’t stop them from delivering great entertainment to their guests - filled with lots of impromptu singing! (Photo by TJ Medrana Photography)

 

2. Use your wedding funds wisely.

Anything unplanned that happens on your wedding becomes too painful to handle when we put in too much of our resources in it.

If an outdoor wedding gets rained on, and you have to revert to Plan B, then the effort, time, and money you put in for your venue and all your outdoor decors no longer give you the full return on investment. And this hurts couples badly. Sometimes we can overlook the cost of effort and time, but not easily money. Why? Because we tend to be more attached to our money, and we earn it through effort and time after all!

So what’s the antidote? Decide wisely where you put your wedding fund into.

When you take a biblical perspective on spending your wedding money, you make wiser decisions. What does spending look like in the Bible? That which will honor and celebrate Him. There are tons of Biblical scriptures on it. Here’s a list of some of them.

An example of how a couple could be spending their wedding fund with God in mind is this:

Lillian and Thomas chose a beach wedding to complement their water-loving personalities (God likes how we embrace our uniqueness.), to showcase the beauty of the natural scenery (God created them after all!), and to share the Gospel during the ceremony even to passers-by (Wow, that’s letting go of any privacy on their wedding day!).

But if you’re telling me, “Hmm, we’re not choosing our venue for all those reasons, just that it’s really pretty and it suits us!” Then that’s totally fine too!

You can now then check your choice against your budgets.

If your choice of venue stretches your budget beyond what you can afford, especially that you will need to spend also on any rainy-day logistics (like tentage or renting an alternative venue--read my post about that here), then it might not be the best choice.

I’d be careful about “praying for that venue that is 40% beyond our budget because God grants the desires of our hearts!” Yes, He grants the desires of our hearts, but only if they are the desires of His heart too! And I don’t think He wishes any of us to begin married life at a deficit. More on the topic of Weddings & Money here.

In the end, whether it’s a church venue, a palace, a garden, or the slope of a volcano where you are getting married, God is okay with any venue, as long as you are choosing it for Him and using the resources that He has given you wisely. And when you choose Him, of course you are also choosing to make it safe for your guests!

 

How to Prepare for Any Weather On Your Wedding Day
Eric and Kelly had such an elegant, welcoming and God-honouring wedding that didn’t break the bank. (Photo by 9 Frames Photography)

 

3. Pray and ask God about your choice of venue and setup.

You’ve heard this before: “Many are the plans in a person's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails.” (Proverbs 19:21)

When it’s time for you and your fiancé to choose your wedding venue and setup, first, pray about it. Remember, praying is seeking God’s desire for you. And as you both pray for what He desires for you both, He’ll work in amazing ways to speak to your hearts, and make them want what He wants for you.

Then dive into the Word. Communicating with God is a two-way action. Just praying without seeking for His instructions is like talking to your counsellor without giving your listening ears to know what they think. Getting into the Word is also a way to affirm if what you are desiring is what God desires for you both.

 

 

Which part of the Bible do you go to when you’re in the middle of making a big decision? And I’d consider picking a wedding venue as a big decision. It will define most of your other wedding decisions!

I don’t have a prescription on which scripture would help you exactly, because there are tons. I suggest you read this article on How Do I Study a Specific Topic in the Bible. It will suggest to you using a concordance. When you search for topics using an online concordance like Bible Study Tools, I suggest looking up some of these words to study scriptures about them: “decisions,” “plans,” “wisdom,” or “hospitality.” As for why I included the word “hospitality”, read my fourth point below. As you pray with your partner, write down the words that come to mind that you’d want to study.

When you make decisions based on what God wants for you, then it should be easier to heal from disappointments when your plans don’t prosper. What happens if your wedding day still gets a weather that you don’t prefer after you’ve prayed, heard from God and obeyed God when you both decided on a venue? You get full assurance that it’s the weather that God wants for a bigger purpose!

 

How to Prepare for Any Weather On Your Wedding Day
Ina’s dream of an outdoor wedding was rained on, which led her to learn more about her now husband. Click on the image to read her story. (Photo by Icebox Imaging)

 

On the note of prayer and studying the word: This whole period of wedding planning is a great opportunity to exercise your praying muscles and develop Bible study habits. You and your fiancé will be making TONS of decisions together. While your decisions would seem to only be relevant to a one-day event, they have long-term effect. So I really believe that this is a period when you really have to prioritise even more your time with the Lord. You will be busy planning the wedding, but prioritising your time with God will realign you with the real purpose of this season. How I wish I heard about this when I was in your place!

 

4. Think of the wedding venue that you choose as your home on your wedding day.

Your wedding venue, every area of it, is your home on that special day. If anything, it’s your first home together as a married couple! You are welcoming your most loved people to that place that you meticulously prepared for their coming.

This said, won’t the way you design the wedding venue similar to how you would get your home ready if you were to invite them to your actual marital home? You’ll probably even pour out more resources on your wedding day than any other occasion you would host in the future. What a great act of hospitality!

 

How to Prepare for Any Weather On Your Wedding Day

 

One picture of hospitality in the Bible is found on 1 Peter 4:9 which says, Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.” The next verse goes on to say that, “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.

In the first point, I talked about how God is pleased with you when you use your talents to plan, organise, and design the venue on your wedding day. The verse above affirms that!

Then I talked about spending your wedding funds wisely on point # 2. And this verse also encourages us to be faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms! I believe that you having money to spend on your wedding is just by God’s grace! Isn’t that cool?

So in the case of your wedding venue and setup, what you need to prioritise is how to make people feel comfortable in the space, how you can make them feel accommodated through your logistics and programme, and how you can do that while using your skills and talent within what you can afford. All of these already showcase excellent hospitality!

 

How to Prepare for Any Weather On Your Wedding Day
One of the things we enjoyed the most during our wedding was sitting with our guests. Mike and I enjoyed hosting people for meals in our homes as single people. Fast forward to marriage, we have been doing together what we started on our wedding day! (Photo by Iwan Photography in Bali.)

 

5. Remember that God is the God of all weather.

Undoubtedly, more couples prefer a clear sky and just the right amount of sun compared to rain on their wedding day, given the type of venues being booked nowadays. Even couples who choose to do their event indoors definitely find it more convenient to have a rain-free weather, as going to the venue on a rainy day can be a hassle for the guests (think long dresses getting wet upon getting off the car!).

So I assume that there are more soon-to-be wed couples PRAYING for sun than those praying for rain.

I turned to a friend to seek a counsel on whether or not it’s biblical to pray for good weather. She said, “Yes. It is biblical to pray for anything including good weather for special occasions. But remember that God’s answer is always ‘Yes’ or ‘No.’”

That shouldn’t be a surprise to us, but somehow, it still surprises us and hurts us when bad weather meets us.

 

How to Prepare for Any Weather On Your Wedding Day
“This is the day (rain or shine) that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24. *Italics are mine.

 

When we pray for something and God answers it, it is for His glory. If He says “no” and it rains when you prayed for a sun shiny day, that’s also for His glory. It may be difficult to accept because it’s not what we want, but that’s really the deal and is what glorifies God ultimately.

When it rains on your wedding day, God is not punishing you. Firstly, no one punishes someone using something that’s good. Rain is good because He created it. Secondly, God is not in a punishing mode when a certain weather that we don’t prefer shows up at the wedding and marriage that we’ve submitted to Him. He has a story for it that we may not understand immediately, and that’s another reason to pray--so that God reveals to you what His purpose is for the weather that He’ll bring on your wedding day.

 

So, gorgeous bride, take comfort that you can have a beautiful wedding, no matter what the weather becomes. You can also take inspiration from this post.

 

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How to Prepare for Any Weather On Your Wedding Day

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We totally risked not having a rainy day back-up plan for our garden wedding in Bali. But I have to be honest; it was a decision that leaned more towards frugality than faith. And the sun did shine that day. Too much, in fact, that our guests went home with an extra strong tan.

But what would it be for you, if it rained on your outdoor wedding and things don't go as planned?

Here are some reflections from friends whose weddings were rained on.

Our very hot mid-afternoon wedding had most guests moving to the more shaded side of the garden. See those empty seats behind my ladies? (Photo by Iwan Photography in Bali)

 

An Opportunity to Be Served

I had the honour of coordinating for the wedding of my dear friends, Eric & Kelly. Being the planner that I am, I thought I covered all bases--up until I felt a raindrop on my nose. Then I realized that I didn’t have a rainy day back-up plan.

It just totally slipped my mind! After all, among the 30+ weddings I had attended at that time, I have not been to one that had been rained on.

There’s a first for everything.

I remember our team of friends setting up and tearing down the beautiful garden set-up at least three times, as the rain poured and paused on repeat. With thirty minutes off schedule, we had to finally decide to move the ceremony indoors.

 

Friends and family rescuing non-waterproof items at the outdoor setup at Eric & Kelly’s wedding. (Photo by 9 Frames Photography)

 

Kelly recounts her emotions:

“When I saw the rain fall, I wanted to burst into tears. I held it for my make-up’s sake. But inside, I was like, ‘God, how could you let it rain on my wedding day? Did I do something wrong?’ That was my immediate thought, having had a well-planned outdoor wedding that now wouldn’t happen.

Then God reminded me during the ceremony of the time Eric asked me to be his girlfriend. We were hiking, and it started to rain hard. Eric helped me realise that our life together was going to be an adventure involving some ‘rainy days.’ A few years later, it rained again when our first son was born!”

Unbeknownst to Eric & Kelly was how forthcoming ALL their guests were in helping set up the alternative indoor venue. Everyone gladly made sure that the wedding would remain special and beautiful for the couple.

 

Eric & Kelly’s ceremony had to be moved indoors at the last minute because of the non-stop rains. (Photo by 9 Frames Photography)

 

Eric and Kelly are two people who find so much joy in serving other people. They met at Every Nation Church Singapore where my husband Mike and I also attend. I believe God used the rain to show them how much they are loved by the people they have been serving.

God also showed them His consistency! Pastor Larry spoke during his sermon:

"In the Bible God says, 'Man plans his ways, but God directs his steps.' Although this wedding may have been planned as an outdoor wedding, I believe God, in His divine plan, wanted it indoors. A lot of us don't know this, but years ago, this used to be a church (referring to White Rabbit, the wedding venue). And I felt that before this ceremony started, the Lord just whispered to me, 'Eric and Kelly met at church, I want them to get married in church.

 

All’s well that ends well for Eric and Kelly. (Photo by 9 Frames Photography)

 

A Reminder of God’s Consistency

Rain was also a factor in Dust and Carla’s story.

Carla recalls, It reminded us of our first date - it was also a stormy night! So the rain during our wedding day showed us that God was involved.”

At their dinner party, it continued to rain. While this made it difficult for guests to go anywhere (the venue was on top of a hill), it allowed us guests to focus on the couple, and catch up with friends we had not seen in a long time. It was a lovely picture of a big family getting together over fun and food!

 

Dust and Carla had very few empty seats at any point during their wedding dinner because the rain kept everyone indoors! (Photo by Oak St Studios)

 

The Gospel Was Heard More Audibly

“The reason we chose our venue was because of its beautiful outdoor patio. Our wedding was going to lead up to an evening reception at a courtyard, as I had imagined us under the stars. Then it rained, and we had to scrap all of that to move indoors.” recalls Ina Mendez-Tan.

The Instagrammable outdoor dream wedding that was no more caused Ina’s groom to feel very unsettled.

When we had to move indoors two hours before the start of the ceremony, I had peace about it. I learned later on that Edson, my then-fiancé, was very anxious about the idea that his bride won’t get her dream wedding! That made me love him even more! shared Ina.

 

Edson and Ina finally enjoying the outdoor scenery of their wedding venue after the rain stopped. (Photo by Icebox Imaging)

 

After the wedding, the couple reflected on how focused the guests became to the wedding programme when they moved the venue indoors. “There was just too much to see at the outdoor space that our guests would, for sure, get too distracted!” says Ina.

And most importantly, because there was less distraction, the gospel message during the ceremony was more audibly delivered to the audience who were seated very close to each other, according to the couple.

 

A Rainbow and God’s Promises

In the middle of John and Rachelle’s beach wedding, a drizzle decided to pay them a visit. Then, while the pastor was talking about God’s promises about marriage, a rainbow came out.

Sitting as their guest and marveling at the sight of such a beautiful stream of colours, I remembered the rainbow in Genesis 9. God made a promise to Noah after the flood and said, I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life.

I’d like to believe that there was at least one person at the wedding that needed an assurance from God about that promise. And Rachelle and John’s wedding was used for that purpose.

 

Rachelle and John still had their dream wedding in spite of having to move their planned tropical outdoor dinner.

 

A Silver Lining and Some Disappointments

While there comes a silver lining to some of these rainy weddings, there’s always a level of disappointment that couples have to deal with.

Just think about all that’s been paid, planned, and hoped for: outdoor lights and decors, seating arrangements, or the sound of birds chirping in the background as the couple says “I do.”

Rachelle, for one, shared, “I didn’t let the rain dampen my mood that day when it caused us to move our dinner plans from the beach to an indoor venue. But I also couldn’t stop thinking right there and then about the costs we’ve incurred having planned it to be on the beach!”

Meanwhile, Kelly and Eric never got to see the entire DIY decors their friends put together.

 

What was going to be the backdrop for Eric & Kelly’s planned outdoor ceremony.

 

There will always be feelings of disappointment to battle with when plans don’t turn out the way we hoped. I’ve not heard of anyone who was absolutely unperturbed on their wedding day, or even the days that followed, when things go amiss.

But here’s some good news: we can control our attitude even when we can’t control the weather!

 

Planning for Any Type of Weather

So what do you do to prepare yourself for the possibility of bad weather on your wedding day, while having to fight feelings of disappointment during such a special occasion?

Well there’s the logistical approach, which I talk about on my post 25 Things to Consider When Planning an Outdoor Wedding.

Then there’s the non-logistical approach that I believe is much more important (think long-term. Check it out on How To Prepare For Any Weather On Your Wedding Day.

 

Do you have a similar story to share? If you’re reading this after getting married, I’d love to hear of your experiences in addressing changing weather conditions on your wedding day. If you’re a bride still planning your wedding, tell me about how you plan to make your wedding day weatherproof!

 

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Rain on Wedding Day

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guiding-principles

….is actually the first step.

Venue or date? Budget or guest list? Theme or venue?

Where do you begin in planning your wedding?

If you pick the venue first, it may not match your theme, budget, or fit the number of people you plan on inviting.

If you work on your budget first, how do you know what to budget for?

If you pick a theme first, you might end up frustrated if your budget isn’t enough to execute the idea you have in mind.

Oh! What a headache! Does it really need to be this difficult?

When we were planning our wedding, we received all kinds of advice from our married friends on how to get started. But amidst all the how-to’s, we heard something resonate in all of them.

Many of them have shared what a grueling process it was to agree on the hundreds of details they had to deal with. On hindsight, they all shared how they wished they had more discussions that dealt with how they really felt about all these big and small details before getting so close to each and every deadline.

The first crucial step that no one really talks about when planning their wedding is the establishment of your guiding principles. My then-fiancé-now-husband Mike and I distilled what our friends were saying, and came to the conclusion that what they hoped they had to start with were some set of these principles.

 

 

Guiding principles are a set of rules, agreements, or philosophies to help you make better and smarter choices together.

These are elaborations of what you, as a couple, believe in - which are pretty much affected by your faith and preferences. Your vision for your wedding day will likewise define your guiding principles.

They are ideally talked about and written before jumping into logistical planning, so your planning could be easily determined by what you’ve already agreed on.

We only really fully realised the benefits of having these guiding principles after our wedding day, and we could even say that these enabled us to actually enjoy planning our wedding!

That’s why I’d like to share with you these 5 things that you can have Guiding Principles for.

 

1.  How you’d like your fiancé to feel after the wedding day

When the dust settles, what will your fiancé remember you by the way you treated him during the engagement period up until the wedding day?

I remember when I went ahead and printed out our wedding programmes without getting my fiancé’s inputs, which made him feel disrespected. I remember when he overhauled the content I wrote for our wedding website, which made me feel insulted. We both just wanted to be helpful, but we couldn't make sense of our own good intentions because we weren't communicating enough!

On a brighter note, I felt really supported by him when he prioritised me over his family. He definitely treated my in-laws very well, but he had to make careful decisions as to who gets time first when we were all in the same town days before our wedding. And that was even with the premise that he only sees his parents a few times a year! I believe my in-laws exemplified it well to him that his future wife would be priority over the family, and he was already practicing this during our engagement.

This will help determine:

  • How you’ll spend time with your fiancé when you’re planning and when you’re not planning for the wedding
  • How you’ll both communicate during this season
  • How you’ll prioritise things

 

2.  How you’d like your guests to feel after attending your wedding

I couldn’t have agreed more with Maya Angelou when she said,

“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Our friends Angel and Abiel Pascual wrote each of their 100+ guests personalised handwritten letters. That really made my husband and I feel that they value us as part of their life.

This will help determine:

  • The guest list
  • The programme
  • The gifts for your guests (if applicable)
  • The welcome and send-off logistics of your guests

 

Participating in 40+ weddings have taught us a lot! And I'm glad this blog allows me to share them with you.

 

3.  How you’d like your marital finances to look the day after your wedding

With the social pressures of pulling off an extravagant, most Pinterest-worthy wedding--which include but are not limited to an extraordinary prenup pictorial, the highest quality same-day-edit video, the most exotic location, and the most pompous menu--couples throw most, if not all, financial boundaries out the window.

The common justification is that it just happens once in a lifetime (ideally), and that the money can be recovered later on.

But what happens in overspending for a single day of fairytale wedding bliss is the exchange for many months or years of indebtedness and financial insecurity.

No couple in history has ever regretted being on the healthy side of finances after the wedding day, so there must be enormous benefits to making wise financial decisions while planning.

This will help determine:

  • Where your funds will come from
  • Your budget for each item
  • Your choice of vendors

(I write more about how you can plan and commit to a wiser wedding through sound financial strategies here.)

 

4.  How you’ll use this season to learn

The wedding is going to be your first ‘big project’ together as a couple. Your partnership in making decisions will be put to the test. The strengths and weaknesses of your characters will be most transparent.

Whatever you or your fiancé discover about each other during the process will be what you'll have to accept in marriage (or say ‘no’ to if there are serious red flags).

An openness to learn from each other and from what you’ll experience will bring you closer to one another.

This will help determine:

  • How you’ll respond to conflicts
  • How you’ll respond to stressors
  • How you’ll communicate

 

During our engagement period, I learned about how important it is to Mike to have regular breaks to have fun!

 

5.  How you’d like to honour God during your engagement and on your wedding day

The spiritual depth of a wedding can be easily taken for granted when the road leading to it gets very bumpy. That’s why it’s important to stay focused on its true purpose.

You and your groom are going to stand before the Lord and your witnesses to enter into a covenant. Your wedding day is a mirror of how both of you as believers and members of His church unite with Him.

As glorious as that sounds, often times, God is neglected altogether months leading up to the wedding day - because of stress, busyness, and fixation on the less essential parts of getting married. Couples go back to communicating with Him again when wedding planning has reached its conclusion.

But truth is, God deserves honour during the entire process of preparing for your marriage. He is the reason why you’re getting married after all!

This will help determine:

  • How long your engagement will be (to read more on this, check out this article )
  • How you’ll spend time with your fiancé during your engagement
  • How you’ll prioritise things
  • How you’ll respond to stressors
  • How you’ll make financial decisions for your wedding (here's my blog series on 'Weddings & Money').
  • How you’ll relate with people

 

Click the image to get all these questions as a printable PDF!

Conversation Question Cards for Engaged Couples

 

There you go!

I recommend you pray about these things, then schedule a date night with your fiancé to discuss about them. Encourage and show your appreciation to one another every time you both agree on each point.

Can't yet decide on something together? Take a break and pray individually whenever you disagree on certain things. Consult a married couple you both trust to help you navigate through tough discussions if you need to.

Do you need more help with going through these 5 ideas? I made a list of related yet more specific questions you can ask each other! Find them here.

Have fun during this season!

 

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The first step to planning your wedding that nobody talks about the asian mrs blanding

 

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As a child, were you ever asked by an adult to buy something using their money?

When I was a kid, my mom would often send me to the nearby provision store and buy rice.

Where I grew up, rice can be purchased in quantities of 250 grams, scooped from a heaping mountain of rice. I was expected to buy as much rice as I could with the money that I had been given. Sometimes I’d spend it all, sometimes, there’d be spare change.

This, for me, is a simple and clear picture of what it means to spend within a budget.

This principle of spending within a finite limit seems to be taken less seriously nowadays. With credit cards, quick loan applications, and even digital money, our spending is no longer limited to what we have in the bank.

The lack of discipline to practice this principle when planning your wedding can result in financial woes and relational tension in your future marriage.

So I’d like to share with you 8 foundational ways to stick to your wedding budget so that you’re also investing for dividends with your future spouse.

 

1.  Create a budget.

Planning a wedding without a budget is like taking a flight without a destination. You may not be able to come back!

So first things first:

Step 1: Talk to your fiancé about where your wedding funds will come from.

Step 2: Identify how much you can realistically afford based on your savings, plus whatever you’ll set aside from your income during your engagement period.

I talk about steps 1 & 2 more here.

Step 3: Create a comprehensive budget. In other words, decide on how much you’ll be spending on each wedding item. I provide guidance on this and a free Wiser Weddings: Budget WorkSheet that you can sign up for here.

Saying that you’ll set an overall wedding budget of $10,000 without further breaking it down is setting yourselves up for overspending. Because you’ll likely spend most (if not all) of that lump sum budget on the very first thing you’ll purchase.

 

Click the image to sign up for this 2-in-1 Free Pack that includes the 'Wiser Weddings: Budget Worksheet' and the 'Personal Finance Worksheet'.

 

2.  Talk about your "Guiding Principles."

There are tons of tiny details that you’ll be wading through as you plan your wedding. And most of these details will help determine your budget. You will be asking each other questions such as:

“How will we determine who to invite?”

“Are we going to allow our guests to bring a ‘plus one’?”

“Are we going to ask for financial help from our parents?”

Guiding principles help set the vision for the wedding planning period and create the boundaries you’ll need to stay on track. Agreeing on these ‘Guiding Principles’ from the very start will help you and your fiancé to make better decisions throughout the process. Ultimately, the goal is to protect and invest in your future marriage. Check out this blog where I talk about how you can write your guiding principles.

 

Questions-Wedding-Guiding-Principles
Check this blog post out if you haven't yet. I've got free stuff in there too!

 

3.  Meet up with a financial planner.

A financial planner can help you plan for how you’ll pay off debt, if any (and, please, not debt you plan to incur for the wedding), and how to start saving for your future marriage fund. It’s a wise move to talk about this with a financial planner during your engagement period so that you can be future-thinking even as you plan your wedding.

A financial planner who believes in tithing even whilst paying off debt, and before saving and investing, and who encourages you to be benevolent on top of tithing is one my husband and I personally seek.

 

4.  Have a financial vision for your early years of marriage thru Proverbs 3:9-10 and create a vision board.

If you really want to strengthen your resolve to be financially wise while planning your wedding, then you’ll need to have a strong vision for it.

One good way to give soul to your vision is to find a scripture (or a few) from the Bible that talk about God’s overflowing blessings following our obedience. I’ve chosen Proverbs 3:9-10 as one of them:

"Honour the Lord from your wealth and from the first of all your produce; So your barns will be filled with plenty and your vats will overflow with new wine."

As you honor God with your finances while planning your wedding, you are preparing the way for blessings to come to you individually, and soon into your marital home. Being financially free (let’s start with having no debt) during your first year of marriage also relieves you of lots of stress. Such bliss increases intimacy in the early stages, which is a crucial foundation for a life-long marriage.

And since we are visual creatures, try creating a vision board. A vision board is a physical display that contains images of the things you want to achieve, want to do, or want to be in your life (or in a particular aspect of life). It’s like the initial sketch of an architect, or a dress designer. Having the imagery of what you’d like your early married years to be will excite your senses, keep you focused, and help you achieve your goal.

 

My prayer is that no financial trouble would tear your relationship apart. And more importantly, that you start your marriage on a good financial note. It just makes life easier!

 

5.  Get organised.

Have you ever had to pay for excess luggage at the airport? It’s expensive! I’ve found myself having to take the hit whenever I don’t plan my packing well. A few minutes of good planning and organising can avoid a lot of unnecessary fees!

One of my husband’s favourite sayings is “those who fail to plan, plan to fail.” And the same is true with weddings. Weddings become unnecessarily wasteful and expensive when the couples leave things in disarray.

But I’m already so busy and there’s just so much to organise!” This is a cry I hear from many brides-to-be. And I feel you! What I’ve observed, and what I’ve experienced myself, is that much energy is spent on things that can be done more quickly, and less is spent on things that actually need more attention. 

Think late fees. Simply setting calendar reminders will help avoid missing payment deadlines. For more guidance in getting financially organised, check out my blog on how to get organised with your wedding fund.

Another way to get organised is to...

 

6.  Invest in a Wedding Admin Assistant.

I’m a believer that you’ve gotta spend money to make money. Now that may sound materialistic to you, but it’s a sound investment principle. Hear me out here:

Organising the various offerings of your suppliers in a worksheet may not be something that you or your fiancé particularly enjoy. And because you don’t enjoy the task, it will likely take longer, and cause frustration.You may even end up cutting corners and not reviewing the proposals thoroughly.

When it’s time to pick suppliers, you pick one that looks most economical on the surface. But because you missed some details about their offering (e.g. limited-use only clause, late fees, service charges, etc.) you end up paying more and getting less.

In a case like this, you may end up wishing you had spent a little bit of money hiring someone to look into the details that you couldn't be bothered with. In the long run, you would have saved more.

Where can you turn to look for wedding admin help? One way is to find an Admin Assistant on a freelance services online marketplace like Fiverr or Upwork. Hourly rates are as low as USD $5. Another way is to make a crowdsourcing post on Facebook among your friends (I do this often). Be clear that you are looking for someone to support with online, short-term, freelance admin work. When I do this, I often get connected with talented people who are stay-at-home moms, part-time students, or in between jobs.

If you want to delegate the admin tasks, but just can’t bring yourself to pay for someone’s services, then…

 

7.  Enlist friends and family to help.

My husband Mike is a master delegator and he knows how to do it with grace, order and integrity. And I’m learning from him in this area. I tend to hoard tasks, not considering that many other people would be willing, able, and happy to chip in.

When we were planning our wedding, two friends acted as our creative team, recommending colour schemes and design pegs. Another two friends (both skilled graphic designers) helped develop our wedding monogram and avatar logos. My sister helped me to compile a list of wedding dress suppliers within our budget and style. A few other friends helped distribute packages that we needed to send to our entourage members. Our officiant, our emcees, and our wedding band were all made up of friends who just wanted to pitch in and help!

Your wedding day is one of the most momentous events in both your lives. Family and friends would love to partake in it in any way. Asking for help is a virtue (humility) as it is an art. You’d want to do it in a way that holds them accountable if they fail to deliver, and allows them to find joy in serving you and your fiancé.

 

All of our bridesmaids and groomsmen had roles to play when we were planning our wedding. Partnering with them strengthened our friendships even more!

 

8.  Be wise about who to invite to your wedding.

Catering and venue are the two largest costs at any wedding. And of course, the price increases as your guest list grows.

It’s relationally restrictive if you reduce your guest list solely based on budget. But conversely, it’s financially burdensome if you let your guest list blow up to include your entire Facebook friend list.

Some dear friends gave us wise advice to use as a decision-making filter when compiling our guest list:

“When creating your guest list, don’t ask yourselves who have been an important part of your past as single people, but rather ask yourselves who you want to be a part of your shared future as husband & wife. Not everyone from your past is going to make it into your future.”

We followed this advice and we’ve been reaping the rewards of this principle.

First, if you heed this advice, you will be left with the really meaningful relationships on your list. Second, these people will feel so honoured and valued because you’re not picking them based on what they’ve done, but based on the value their friendship can bring. Third, while you’re not planning your guest list based on budget, this principle helps to bring down the number to the very relevant few.

 

 

Your financial decision making skills will definitely get a workout during this planning season. Allow them to be put to the test. Work together with your fiancé in every financial decision you make. This is an opportune time to win each other’s trust that you will be transparent with each other about finances during marriage.

Any thoughts on how else to stick within your budget? Please share in the comment section below. And if you haven't signed up for the Wiser Weddings: Budget Worksheet yet, you may do so here. Happy engagement!

 

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Sticking to your wedding budget while investing in your future marriage

 

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One valuable tip I’ve received when it comes to protecting wealth has been “count your change.”

You and your fiancé will be putting hard-earned money into your wedding. One way to be good stewards of God’s wealth is to be diligent and wise about managing it. Shepherds know where their sheep are sleeping and where they’re going. Likewise, we ought to know where our money “sleeps” and where it’s going!

Here are 6 tips on how to get organised with your wedding funds so you don’t keep losing your change.

 

1.  Use a reliable online budget worksheet.

“But I’m not a spreadsheet person!” is a familiar resistance I get when I start talking about using a cloud-based worksheet, like Google Sheets, for efficient wedding planning.

You can use Google Sheets in its most basic form - simply to list wedding tasks or items with their corresponding dates or costs. If you really feel more comfortable writing things on paper, then so be it. You’ll just need to make that tool work for you and your fiancé because you both will need to constantly see the numbers and track their movements.

The benefits of using Google Sheets are:

  • Collaboration. You and your fiancé may not always be physically together each time you work on wedding planning. If you have to do some planning over a call or video chat, you both can be looking at the same Google Sheet while typing your inputs at the same time. The file saves automatically with both of your entries.
  • Portability. Your worksheet sits on the cloud, which means, you can access it through any device as long as you have a Gmail account. You don’t have to email each other back and forth with an Excel, Numbers, or OpenOffice attachment labeled “Version 12.a”.
  • Automated Calculations. Other tools such as Excel or Numbers also offer this same functionality, and it’s tremendously time-saving. While those pull-out cardboard worksheets that wedding magazines provide may look pretty, be warned that you’re in for a lot of manual number-crunching.
  • Revision History. “Can we reduce our budget for catering back to what we had agreed last week?” This is made easier using Google Sheets because you can see revision history and restore those older versions.

I’m all about leveraging things that already work! It’s one of my productivity mantras. By clicking on this, you can sign-up for my free Wiser Weddings: Budget Worksheet!

 

 

Wedding Budget Worksheet Personal Finance
Click the image to sign up for this 2-in-1 Free Pack that includes the 'Wiser Weddings: Budget Worksheet' and my 'Personal Finance Worksheet'.

 

2.  Modify the Budget Worksheet based on your needs.

Every wedding is unique. So feel free to modify my Wiser Weddings: Budget Worksheet to suit your needs. Feel free to remove items which aren’t relevant for your wedding. I’ve endeavoured to build a worksheet as comprehensive as possible to cover details of even the most elaborate of weddings.

How much detail do you need in terms of organising information? My rule is just detailed enough to afford me more time in the future!” For example, I’d put the payment schedules for each supplier on the worksheet because that would save me time going through email correspondences with suppliers later on. Having these dates on the worksheet saves us time when strategising which suppliers to pay first.

Meanwhile, I would avoid adding links of the digital copies of the suppliers’ quotations on my Google Sheet because I can simply use Google Drive’s search functionality to find those quickly.

 

 

3.  Put your payment deadlines on your calendar and set alerts.

Oh, those late payment fees. You’ll want to avoid them at all costs!

Being late for a payment means that you owe someone money for a period of time. And debt is not good. We all want to exemplify integrity. The wedding planning process creates opportunities to work with so many people. I encourage you to treat each contact with your suppliers as a chance to inspire them about Biblical ways of dealing.

Solution? Put all those payment deadlines on your online calendar! I use Google Calendar because it’s free, integrated with my email account, and easy to use!

Here’s how:

  • For every wedding item you need to pay for, check the payment deadline.
  • Add the dates to your Wiser Weddings: Budget Worksheet under the ‘Budget Plan’ tab and under the ‘Payment Due Dates’ column. Having these dates on the sheet makes it easy for you to see the other payment deadlines for purposes of planning your cash flow.
  • Add them to your calendar, or your fiancé’s calendar, or better yet your shared calendar. If you’re adding them to your personal calendar, include your fiancé as an invitee so that he can see the payment schedules on his calendar too.
  • Set an alert one or two weeks before the payment deadline. This way you’re able to prepare the funds you need.

 

 

 

4.  Study suppliers’ contracts, check invoices, and ask for receipts.

Let’s go back to my first point in this blog about being wise in managing our money. Since it’s actually God’s money that we’re managing (Read Matthew 25:14-30 about the ‘Parable of the Three Servants’), we have a responsibility to be diligent about it. So don’t be naive when it comes to dealing with suppliers.

As a diligent consumer, you’ll need to:

  • READ contracts thoroughly. Ask about things that you don’t understand. Discuss them with your fiancé before signing together. A contract is meant to bind two parties, and if on your wedding day your supplier doesn’t deliver as agreed in the contract, you have the right to be compensated accordingly.

Wedding suppliers, especially those who’ve been at it for a while, think and act like business people (because they are). While your current state newly-engaged-bliss has you feeling like the only girl in the world (I recall the feeling), the reality is that you’re one of the many brides (and couples) that these suppliers are serving at this point in time. So contracts tend to be templated. But there is always room to modify based on what you agree on.

  • Put everything in WRITING. “I think I would prefer if you write our order down, please” my husband often suggests in his courteous (but firm) tone whenever a waiter attempts to commit our meal order to memory. We’ve had enough bad experiences with food mix-ups to know that it’s not worth the risk to rely on memory alone.

The same is true with your orders from your suppliers. Insist that everything be put in writing, even the modifications you make to your requests. Thank God for email apps on our phones, you can email your supplier right away:“Ella, as spoken on the phone, we will have 6 bridesmaids bouquets instead of 4. Please confirm this on email.” It can be as simple as that.

  • VERIFY the breakdown of what your suppliers are charging you. Once you receive invoices, make sure that you’re being charged correctly based on what you’ve agreed, and make sure that their computation is accurate. Check for taxes, service charges, miscellaneous fees, early payment discounts, and late payment fees.

One of our wedding suppliers had handed us a written invoice. All the components were correct. But I noticed an odd number. Their 10% service fee was computed as 20% instead! It was a matter of pressing the wrong buttons on the calculator.

  • ASK for a receipt. An invoice is different from a receipt. An invoice is your bill. It’s not a confirmation that you’ve paid. After you’ve settled your payment, immediately ask for a receipt. Do your part in letting your suppliers know that you’ve paid the right amount within the right time frame.

Getting into legal disputes is the last thing you want to do when you’re focused on getting married. So being organised from the very beginning can spare you a lot of headache and heartache.

 

 

5.  Upload digital copies of your contracts, invoices and receipts.

During the last stretch of our wedding planning, our planner fell silent for a few weeks. We were planning our wedding from Singapore and the planner was in Bali. We needed to know whether our service agreement included coordination with our guest transportation because we needed to finalise it at that point.

Having the contracts saved in our shared Google Drive folder saved us time from having to sift through over 150 emails with our wedding planner (no exageration!).

Another benefit of keeping these digital copies is so that you can attach them in an email later on to let your suppliers know of the status of your payments.

Tip for organising files on Google Drive: name your files in a way that’s descriptive, intuitive, and memorable, with simple words that you’d likely use when referring to the document in question. For example, ‘Latest Contract with 123 Caterer in Bali’. For the not-so-organised among you, you’ll be pleased to hear that you can just dump all of the files into one folder. There’s no need for subfolders because organising files into subfolders will likely take you more time than the act of doing a quick search on Google Drive using descriptive words.

 

6.  Update your budget worksheet with every dollar that comes in and out.

You may be diligently paying your suppliers on time, but if you forget to to reflect this update in your planning documents, your partner will be wondering why your wedding funds are depleting so rapidly!

Practice discipline by updating your budget worksheet right after you make a payment to a supplier, or when you receive some income that you’ll put into your wedding fund. This way, you are able to commit to the budgets you’ve set.

If you decide to only merge your bank accounts after marriage, that means your wedding money may be coming from at least two bank accounts. Both of you may then have to do the updating of the budget worksheet with the money that you disburse from your own bank account, or anything that comes in that’s intended for your wedding budgets.

There you go! As you follow these steps throughout your wedding planning process, take confidence that you’re learning valuable skills that will be useful for your work and homemaking. Consider this as a training ground for planning other marriage milestones like a surprise party for your spouse, facilitating papers for your kids’ enrollments, and purchasing a home!

How do you get organised when planning a major project? Share in the comment section below!

 

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How to get organized with your wedding funds

 

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I love hearing from couples how, soon after their fabulous wedding, they’re able to start saving and investing together. That’s a great financial goal for your wedding: To make it a celebration of the start of a prosperous life together. (Speaking of starting a prosperous life together, I provide an introduction on the subject of “Weddings & Money” here, followed by four blogs related to this.)

After you two start building your wedding fund without borrowing money, it’s time to create a wedding budget! My goal is to help you create one that thinks long term (beyond the wedding!), so that none of you would ever have to ask the question, "Why did we even spend for that?”

Here are 6 steps that you can share with your fiancé during your next wedding planning session:

 

1.  Nominate a bookkeeper and choose your tool.

You will push the pen a lot during wedding planning, so it’s best to give the administrative, accounting, or bookkeeping role to the person who enjoys this task. If both of you enjoy doing it, assign which parts of the paperwork you’d like to split between the two of you. 

My favorite tools: Google Sheets + Google Drive

A traditional notebook or those printable sheets from wedding magazines might do the job, but it was just so much easier for Mike and I to be able to instantly compute values on a spreadsheet. Also, with a cloud-based spreadsheet, we were able to track revisions, edit from various devices at the same time, and share it online with other people. Putting all your wedding-related files in a shared folder on Google Drive (docs, sheets, photos) allowed us to access these files using any of our devices (which made everything so much easier!).

GREAT NEWS! I've created a very elaborate and comprehensive Wiser Weddings: Budget Worksheet for you. All you need to do is sign up for it here in a matter of seconds! I designed it in a way that will be useful for whatever scale of wedding you're thinking of: from completely DIY to plug-and-play, including destination weddings.

 

Between Mike and I, I'm the one who enjoys spreadsheets more. He, on the other hand, writes better and faster (he's one of my blog editors!)

 

2.  Establish your “Guiding Principles” if you haven’t yet.

Guiding principles are a set of rules, agreements, or philosophies to help you make better and smarter choices together. These are elaborations of what you, as a couple, believe in - which are pretty much affected by your faith and preferences. Your vision for your wedding day will also define your guiding principles.

They make future questions so much easier to answer. Questions like “How many guests should we invite?”, “Are we going to order a dance floor?”, “Should we increase our budget on photography for drone shots?”  and many more.

From there, you can list down your “Must-Haves”, “Good-to-Haves” and “Do-It-Yourselves (DIYs)”. Here are quick definitions for each of them:

  • Must-haves: You really need to have these at your wedding because you’ve mutually agreed on their importance. Challenge each other by asking, “Won’t we achieve our vision for our wedding if we don’t have them?” Must-haves are also what you would put most of your budgets or efforts into, while not necessarily making your wedding expensive.
  • Good-to-haves: These are what you’re ok with not having but are just nice to have. This list is where your excess budget can go.
  • DIYs: These are items that you’ll do yourself to reduce costs, as pre-made items tend to be pricey. Consider the cost of your time though. 

Read more about guiding principles here.

 

Questions-Wedding-Guiding-Principles
I've also got a free gift for you on this blog post!

 

3.  Establish your maximum budget for each wedding item.

This is a tough nut. The cost distribution of every wedding are as broad as the different shades of blue. But to give you a very rough idea of which items will get the biggest or the smallest slices of your budget, here's an industry breakdown:

Wedding Planner - 5-7%

Venue - 20-22%

Catering - 22-26%

Decors & Florals - 7-10%

AV & Entertainment - 6-12%

Apparel - 4-7%

Photo & Video - 4-7%

Wedding Rings - 1-3%

Pre-wedding activities (e.g. rehearsal dinner) - 6-8%

Honeymoon - 4-8%

Miscellaneous (Legal, Souvenirs, Your flights if you’re doing a destination wedding, Ceremony, Transportation, Stationery, Hair & Make-up, etc.) - 10-14%

These add up to 100%.

I can’t overemphasise the usefulness of your Guiding Principles, Must-Haves, Good-to-Haves, and DIYs lists. All these percentages will be defined by where you want to put your money into. And there are definitely ways to make them work!

So, let’s say, you are both very particular about having a great documentation of your wedding. Meanwhile, you’re not the type who likes too many things going on at a party. You just want people to talk to each other. You can then bump up your budget allocation for Photo & Video to maybe 8%, and stick to a 2% budget for AV & Entertainment.

Then, it’s time to put the dollar amount for each of these items based on the total budget you’ve agreed on. Still haven’t decided how much that is? I encourage you to read this and this in sequence to prepare you for some serious decision-making around wedding finances.

Note that the bulk amounts that you’ll establish for these general items will be further broken down into smaller amounts for the nitty-gritty of a wedding plan. My Wiser Weddings: Budget Worksheet contains those minute details.

 

 

4.  Collect suppliers’ quotations for all your must-have items.

This for me was fun because it felt like window shopping!

Before you dive into this part though, you and your fiancé should have already answered the questions listed in numbers 2 and 3.

Most, if not all, preliminary correspondences with suppliers can be done through email. If this is the case, they will be sending you digital quotations. File and organise these in your wedding folder.

I suggest capping your search at 5 suppliers.

Make sure you ask for the breakdown of the costs they give you. Ask, “Have taxes been included?”, “Any service fees?”, and “Any late payment penalty fees?”. All costs should be in net.

Compile your findings in a tab on your budget worksheet you can name as “Quotations”, or simply fill out that part of the Wiser Weddings: Budget Worksheet.

 

Wedding Budget Worksheet Personal Finance Worksheet

 

5.  Pick your suppliers for your must-haves and update your worksheet.

This is when you’ll be making BIG decisions. The shopping around is over. Resist the temptation of going further deep into Pinterest to find other themes that “might work” because that step is over.

At this point, you have to decide together which suppliers you want to work with. Ideally, the costs of the suppliers you’re picking are within the budget you set aside for those items. If it goes over, you should be able to allocate more to it from your other items. But try your best not to be going over 100% of your total budget. Again, exercise godly stewardship of your finances during this wedding planning season.

 

6.  Collect suppliers’ quotations for your good-to-haves.

Now that you’ve pretty much allocated your budget for your big-ticket items, you’re about 80% done with budgeting! Your surplus money (and hopefully you still have some at this point) can now go to your good-to-have list.

It’s best to give yourself a deadline in doing this part because the nitty-gritty can throw you off balance and eat so much of your time. One you’ve budgeted for your good-to-haves, you will definitely have to go back to tackling the details of your must-have items to reevaluate the costs side-by-side.

 

There is always a wedding that would fit your budget. And it'll be beautiful!

 

Now...inhale. Exhale.

I know it can get overwhelming especially when you see just how much money you are putting into a one-time event. I thought of suggesting to Mike, my husband now, that we should just elope. Then a wise and caring friend reminded me that our wedding day is a celebration of God’s goodness in our lives, and our closest family and friends would be blessed to witness that. Like how one’s birthday can be celebrated through a small backyard picnic, your wedding day doesn’t have to break the bank.

Speaking of not breaking the bank, here’s another treat for you: read about sticking to your budget while investing in your future marriage here.

Stay tuned for stories of inspiring and wiser weddings.

 

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Saying “Yes” to your fiancé was easy. Thinking about marrying him gives you peace. He loves God, you, and the people around you. But, in the process of wedding planning, you find out that he’s broke. Or he finds out that you’re broke. 

And it’s making you think, “Will he be able to provide for me?” Or wonder if he’s thinking, “Will she be able to handle money well?”

Maybe one of you, or the both of you, may have hidden the truth out of fear, or just didn’t think that it would be an issue.

Perhaps you’ve read this blog post only after you’ve gotten engaged.

Whatever the reason is for the lack of disclosure or lack of attention towards this matter, you both have to agree on your next move as a couple.

“But why is being in debt such a worrying situation when entering a marriage?” You might ask.

Because...

  • Debt can put a lot of things on hold in marriage. Think honeymoon, regular date nights, giving gifts to your loved ones, or even living in a place of your own - indefinitely on hold.
  • Making bad financial decisions, if it’s what caused the debt, could be stemming from a bad habit. Bad habits, when not addressed before marriage, can add to the many challenges couples face in marriage.

Once you both acknowledge that you need to be wiser from now on, here are 5 ways to help you navigate through your situation.

 

1. Allow the Holy Spirit to speak to you and respond to it.

Our minds tend to rationalise situations to make them look like there’s no problem that needs to be addressed. However, if we stop trying to rationalise it, we will be able to hear the Holy Spirit better. Pray that you’d obey His leading, and not give into your own desires or external pressures.

 

Here with me is my beautiful mother-in-law, who I had asked what a wise couple should do when in this situation.

 

2. Talk about the issue with your fiancé and share your action plan (or ask for his).

If you’re the one in debt and you intentionally hid it out of fear, apologise. Come clean, as there is no room for dishonesty in a future marriage. Open up about the cause of the debt, and share how you plan to pay it off. Avoid false promises at all costs. From there, it’s all up to him if he’s comfortable bringing the debt into your marriage and helping you pay for it.

If your partner is the one in debt, avoid condemning. Ask how much exactly the debt costs, the reason for the debt, and his plans of repaying it. You’d want to understand how he makes financial decisions, which both of you will be doing a lot of in your marriage. Also, you’d like to know how this debt may affect your future marriage if left unsettled.

Moreover, I agree with Dave Ramsey’s suggestion here not to help pay for the other person’s debt until you’re married.

 

3. Talk to a married couple you both trust.

Confronting debt during your engagement can be very daunting. A flurry of emotions may hinder you from wisely deciding on your next steps.

Seek to find counsel from a godly married couple who’s had their own financial breakthrough in life. Present to them your issue and your proposed resolution so they can assess how round your decision is and pray with you. Make sure that it’s a couple that both of you trust, because you’ll most probably have to divulge details of your past (finances mostly) which may be uncomfortable to share with someone who doesn't have your best interests in mind.

 

Mentorship during your engagement is like fertiliser to your plant.

 

4. Get professional help.

Consulting a financial planner can help give you or your partner (or both of you once you’re married) a solid plan to get out of debt, and protect--and eventually grow--your assets. They think long-term planning, so you’re sure that they aren’t just out there to get a commission.

A professional can advise on how to strategically get you out of debt given your income ability and external factors such as inflation (as most debts have interests). Someone who believes in tithing (with or without debt) and generosity, and not merely on growing wealth, is someone you’d like to hear from.

 

5. Consider a restart.

“Are you suggesting that we break the engagement?” you might ask.

Re-read point # 1. It’s up to the both of you how you’d like to move on from here. The restart that I’m suggesting may very well suggest breaking the engagement until you both resolve the issue that one of you, or both, is not willing to bring into marriage. And this is healthier than forcing yourselves to proceed with the engagement just to save face in light of those who’ve already posted their congratulations on Instagram. On the other hand, staying engaged and prolonging it might invite a lot of temptations in the area of purity. I talk about that here.

It may be heartbreaking; but believe me, you would want to start your marriage right at all costs. Think of it as a blessing that you and your partner had the courage to talk about the financial issue even before you got married.

If you decide to proceed and work on this financial brokenness together, I’d still suggest points 1 to 4. And please, don’t incur more debt while planning your wedding. A simple wedding is going to be your act of obedience to God as you start saving your marriage from financial woes.

Leave me a private message if you’re in this situation and I’d love to pray for you!

 

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And just when you thought your current expenses were already staggering, the wedding comes along.

Don’t fret though. Firstly, there are plenty of ways to have a stunning wedding without breaking the bank. Secondly, you are not doing this alone. This is also your fiancé’s exciting challenge. Lastly, I’m here to help you wrap your head around this subject and be the most helpful and wisest fiancée that you can be.

To get the most out of this 4-part blog series about Weddings and Money, read this introduction first.

To begin this series, I’ll let you in on some talking points that will definitely help you build a wedding fund without borrowing money.

1. Talk about your spending habits.

This topic was perhaps off limits when you and your fiancé were still dating. The engagement period is a great time to understand how exactly you spend your money individually.

Why? Well let me ask you, when else will you talk about it? When you’re already married? You wouldn’t want surprises in this area.

It’s important to ask each other, “How do you spend your money?”

The way we spend is linked to ingrained habits. Because of this, I doubt that you or he will immediately change the way you spend after saying “I do.” And if you find anything amiss with your or your partner’s spending habits, I suggest consulting your mentors and a financial planner as to how to move forward. As nerve-racking as it can be, you need to talk about this.

My Wiser Weddings: Personal Finance Worksheet that you can sign up here will help you both map your spending. This is fairly easy if you’ve been using a budget tracker. If you haven’t, it’s a little more work, but it’ll be worth it.

 

Talking about your financial situations openly with your fiancé will help build trust in your relationship.

 

2. Talk about where you are financially.

You’d want to go into further details about your financial standing. Take this time to put everything on the table. Here are questions you should be asking each other:

  1. Do you have any debt?

Debt brings anxiety to our lives! You both wouldn’t want to be surprised after the wedding day by a news that your budget for your honeymoon will need to go to paying an undeclared debt.

David Ramsey in this blog says it this way, “What you need to know is, ‘He’s got $42,321 in debt between student loans and credit card debt. He cut up the cards and started paying off debt before we ever met, and he’s got a plan to be debt-free in 22 months.’ Those are the details you need.”

I completely agree.

Debts include credit card balances, loans, and payments still owed on assets like house and cars. I’ll break this down in my Wiser Weddings: Personal Finance Worksheet.

While it’s not the reality for everyone, being debtless upon entering marriage is one of the wisest situations to be in. Thus, if you still have the time and resources to clear off debts before your wedding day, do so! Your future selves will thank you, believe me.

2. How much do you earn?

I’d like to start with the debt first so the bad news is over (if any). Moving forward, the next thing you’d like to ask each other is how much you individually earn. What each of you are earning will eventually be both yours (like how any debt will be both yours).

This is where you can be looking to see if none of you have saved up anything for the wedding before you were engaged (which is the case for most couples!). Talk about your net income because gross can be deceiving. That's not what you or he will be taking home.  

3. What assets do you have?

Again, this may come off as being sneaky and nosy only if you don’t really embrace the concept of financial intimacy in marriage. Identifying all your assets helps both of you understand if you have enough liquid assets to pay the wedding.

These assets include money in the bank (or savings), investments, house, cars, jewellry, among others. Again, refer to my Wiser Weddings: Personal Finance Worksheet.

I wouldn’t suggest touching any emergency fund or non-liquid assets for your wedding. You’d much rather bring those into your marriage so you start on a blissful note.

TIP: Before talking about items #1 & #2, pray that God strips you off pride or judgement. You may not feel comfortable talking about these at first, especially if there is any disparity between you and your fiancé’s financial standing. Setting financial intimacy as your marriage goal this early is helpful. Your fiancé will be the closest person you’ll have in your life, so you ought to be honest to him, and vice versa.

 

Let me know in the comment section below what your experience was like when you talked about finances with your fiancé for the first time.

3. Identify where your wedding funds will come from.

In a perfect world, there’s a wedding fund that’s been set aside between the two of you. But this is rarely the case.

The next best scenario is to save up for the wedding during your engagement period. This means, not touching your emergency fund, investments, or other assets. You may have to drop some very big expenses like travels, or move to a cheaper rental place and put the savings towards your wedding fund.

Before the engagement, Mike and I had been separately setting aside 15% of our incomes for savings and investments. From the first month of our engagement until the wedding day, we decided that we would both put that combined amount towards our wedding funds.

We still tried to save anything we could from our daily spending. We put traveling with friends on hold and kept our fun activities on a down low during our engagement period (which was 8 months). We still had so much fun because we found ways to be thrifty!

Our approach doesn’t have to be yours. While we’re happy that we didn’t have to borrow money for the wedding or touch our existing emergency funds and investments, there could still be an even wiser way than ours. Like sticking to a much smaller budget.

I HIGHLY discourage anyone from borrowing money for the wedding. This includes charging the expenses on credit card without a plan of repaying them in less that 30 days. You wouldn’t want to start your marriage in debt. Some people borrow money from their family and commit to paying it within a definite time. Evaluate this option very well because you also wouldn’t want to strain any relationships in the event that you both couldn’t keep your promise.

I believe that your wedding can still be beautiful, with whatever savings you can afford.

 

Wedding Budget Worksheet and Personal Finance

 

4. Discuss your position on gifts.

In some cultures, wedding cash gifts are very much expected that they’re computed as part of the wedding fund before they’re even received!

I would err on the side of being conservative and not account it as part of your wedding budget. A gift, after all, is a gift. The giver has no obligations of giving such a gift. Again, I may be contradicting many cultures, but this is at least what I believe the Bible says about gifts.

Don’t get me wrong, I love gifts! It think that it’s God’s way of pampering us! And I (and our family) have received many!

I just find that there’s a wiser way of handling wedding cash gifts - by saving them instead of spending them for the wedding.

This way, you can also avoid pressures from anyone who’d give gifts with obligations (e.g. their choice of venue, their friends’ inclusion on your guest list, etc.).

 

The wedding planning season is a great time to be creative with your fiancé, and to be more communicative too!

 

How to prepare your part:

  • Pray about how you would talk to your fiancé about this topic. James 3:17 says, But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.”
  • Sign up here for the Wiser Weddings: Personal Finance Worksheet. This includes a worksheet to crunch the numbers for steps 1 & 2.
  • Go through your bank accounts, budget tracker, and other financial documents to fill out the worksheet provided.
  • Have a plan to pay any debt now! Consult a financial planner on how to do this.
  • Share with your fiancé about what you’ve learned.

How to prepare together:

  • Pray together. Matthew 18:19-20 says

“Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.

  • Schedule a time together to share about your financial standing based on the four talking points I discussed above.

If after the conversation, you are concerned about your or your partner’s financial situation, you can read this this.

Reading this after you’ve already figured out where your wedding funds will come from? Share with me in the comment section below how you both talked about it. Thanks in advance!

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