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Guiding principles

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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Your city’s biggest wedding fair is coming soon, and you just can’t wait!

A wedding fair is a good place to get a feel of what’s out there. Options are endless, and it’ll get you thinking about what you should be considering for your wedding.

But having a sit-down meeting with a wedding supplier is different though. By this time, most suppliers are assuming that you’ve already done your homework. So it would be considered a waste of time for both parties (you and your supplier) if you sit with them without having first discussed these 4 important things with your fiancé.

Here they are:

 

1.  How long you want to be engaged for

“What month of the year do we want to get married?” usually is the timeline question couples ask, since couples usually weigh in factors such as weather, cost of venues, theme, and vacation leaves availability. After all, you can’t have a beach wedding during the monsoon season in the tropics.

But I encourage you to do something different.

Talk about how long (or short) you’d want to be engaged for, independent of the aesthetics and logistics of your wedding day. There are other more important considerations around the length of an engagement that can affect your spiritual health and your relationship with your fiancé than the wedding programme.

To help you for this talk, I wrote about the 5 Things You Can Consider When Deciding How Long To Be Engaged For.

 

My wedding dress designer asked me to come back after three months because our wedding was not in seven months. Some dressmakers would only start making the dress three to four months before the wedding to prevent the dress from discolouring, or lessen the number of dress adjustments in case the bride changes sizes over time!

 

2.  Where you want to get married geographically

This was an obvious consideration for my husband and I when we were planning our wedding, because we weren’t living in either of our home countries. Whichever place we picked, there would still be a good amount of guests who would need to travel internationally.

This brings us to the topic of destination weddings.

People automatically assume that it’s overall more costly if it’s done overseas. But the real answer to this is not necessarily. For example, a grand ballroom wedding in your home city can be more expensive than doing it at a beach in Phuket. You can go cheap or expensive at any place.

Decide beforehand where you’d want to have your wedding. You wouldn’t be able to compare apples to apples suppliers from different countries - so suppliers’ offers are not a good gauge of whether you’d want it in country A or B.

 

3.  Where you want to be legally married

Due to varying marriage laws across the globe, where you’d want to have a church wedding (officiated by a priest or a pastor) may not necessarily be where you can or you’d like to have your legal ceremony - especially in the case of destination weddings.

It may not even be a destination wedding. Maybe you’re considering getting married where you currently reside, or where most of your guests also reside. But due to citizenship considerations, you may not be able to legally marry there.

It’s important then to discuss beforehand where you’d want your marriage to be registered, and research on the marriage laws accordingly. You may decide to have your civil wedding done in one city and the church wedding (where you make your marriage vows public in the presence of family and friends) in another, and that’s possible too. Our legal wedding was in Singapore a few days before our wedding ceremony and reception in Bali.

On that note, we only considered ourselves married after we’ve said our vows in the presence of our family and friends - and that was our personal conviction. I found this useful blog on the theology of civil and church weddings if you have questions on this subject.

 

Our Bali wedding showcased a Bali-based group of vendors. Their rates and service offerings are very different from vendors in Singapore, the Philippines or the US, which were our potential locations for our wedding.

 

4.  How would you like this wedding planning process to look

Time and again, my husband and I have seen how the wedding planning process becomes a test of relationship, convictions, and faith for many couples. This was also true for us.

Since a test is something you’d need to prepare for, it’s a good idea to agree with your fiancé how you’d like your wedding planning process to look. Whether you’re doing a three-month engagement or a year, those months will go down in history and you’d want to go through it with grace.

An exercise we did before anything else was to write our ‘Guiding Principles’. These were rules, agreements, or philosophies that helped us make better and smarter choices together. Having this shared vision for this momentous occasion will help you navigate through the wedding planning process, which includes meeting your suppliers for the first time. I talk more about it here.

Once again, congratulations on your engagement! May this season be a time you’ll grow even more in love with each other and go deeper in your faith.

 

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4 decisions to make before talking to wedding suppliers

 

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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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If you didn’t need to plan the wedding, when would you have wanted to get married?

I bet your answer is, “NOW!”

Truth be told - getting married means having to plan a wedding, which takes time, resources, and effort even for the simplest of weddings.

Well, here’s some news: the engagement period is not only all about wedding preparations. Thankfully, married friends talked to Mike and I about the things worth considering when we were still deciding on how long our engagement should be.

 

1.  How long is the marriage preparation course?

We took a course to understand what the bible says about marriage and how we should prepare for it. Our church offers it once a year. Perfect timing, classes started a month after we got engaged and went on for six weeks.

If you both believe that you should be getting married sooner than the next available class schedule at your church, then try looking at other churches. While there are many benefits to attending one at your church (e.g. journeying through it with people you know), you wouldn’t want to be held off by schedules.

 

2.  How much time do you need to prepare for a wedding that honors God, your witnesses and your soon-to-be spouse?

Being engaged means you’ve gotten to know each other enough to agree to marry.

Theoretically, you should be ready to get married right at the moment you said “yes.”

Then there are also other things that we can’t help but also consider. Take the venue, for example. Is it God you’re honouring if you two wait solely because your dream venue is only available in a year’s time?

Stretching your engagement to give yourselves enough time to incorporate all the components of a fairytale wedding is not God’s priority for you.

Work expands to the amount of time you give it. So if you give yourselves one year to plan a wedding, it’ll be one year’s worth of work. I’m not in any way advertising quick, sloppy, and rushed-looking weddings, but we’ve also attended beautiful weddings planned in just a few months.

 

3.  How long can you stay pure in this relationship?

Being engaged brings you closer to marriage. And what I mean by that is, you are still NOT married. Yet emotions are so fired up at this stage.

Temptations will surround you. Choosing to stay pure is one of the most hated commitments you can make as a Christian, because it challenges your own flesh’s desires and the world’s perception of sex.

I personally struggled with that commitment I made many times during our dating and engagement period. I was like that kid who hated herself for agreeing to eat vegetables, only to later be so thankful that she actually did. 

You’d want to keep your engagement short enough to avoid temptations, but long enough to settle other God-honouring considerations before marriage.

 

Mike and I had committed to waiting until marriage for sex. Temptations grew stronger during our engagement period! It wasn't easy but definitely one of the best decisions we made. The engagement period is a good time to re-establish your boundaries.

 

4.  How much time will my guests need in order to prepare for it?

Your wedding guests will be your witnesses when you make that vow to God and to your groom. That’s why a guest list is more than just a social obligation.

So while you don’t really have to wait until a young relative finds his job so he can buy a ticket to fly to your destination wedding, it makes sense to consider a respectful time for them to logistically prepare to come.

Giving your guests enough time to prepare for the wedding is being considerate. Don't make your guests scramble for time to arrange their vacation leaves, flight tickets, babysitting plans, etc. because you've given them such short notice. It will only communicate to them that you are not really serious about having them at your wedding.

There are, however, some exceptions to this. For example, some couples have had to unexpectedly stretch their engagement longer due to sudden death, illness, or crisis in the family. But again, it's best to decide based on what is most honouring to God through your relationships.

 

5.  How much time do you need before serving God as one?

Some thoughts to consider:

  • “Are we delaying our service to God as a married couple with the length of engagement we’re considering?”
  • “What preparations do we really need to be able to serve God as husband and wife?”

I don’t have a prescription as to how long that should take. All I know is that one of the best pieces of advice Mike and I received before getting married was that we can never be perfectly ready for marriage.

You will never be fully ready to serve God. All you need to serve Him is He Himself in your life. And when you do get married, all you need to serve him together is still Him.

Be excited by the prospect of serving God together as a married couple. Imagine being able to serve God through new family members and friends. I know this to be a fact because God has doubled the size of our ministry opportunity when our friends and families merged.

However long you decide to be engaged for, don’t forget to enjoy the season. It’s a joyful period in your relationship that will just get better through time.

Reading this after you’ve already decided on a wedding date? Share with me in the comment section below what your considerations were. I’d love to hear your insights!

 

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