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Weddings & Money

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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.

 

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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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Vodka. Soak your diamond ring in it to make it sparkle. At least that’s my trick.

If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably been fidgeting a lot with your new engagement ring since the day he proposed. It’s a fantastic feeling! I remember, I would gaze out the window and daydream for hours about my soon-to-be life as a wife.

And then it hit me: We need to plan a wedding!

After my then-fiancé-now-husband and I talked about this, we were faced with a question that left me feeling so uncertain.

“How much will our wedding cost?”

How do you even begin to answer this question?

Thank God we got help from couples who were married ahead of us.

 

Peace about your wedding finances will allow you to enjoy and focus on the most significant moments of your life.

 

In this four-part series, I compile a step-by-step guide to tackle what could be the most daunting element of the wedding planning process: money.

I’m taking my time to cover this topic because I’d really like to help you (and your fiancé) navigate through this part of the wedding planning process with excellence.

Why all the focus? Because I believe that the way you handle money for your wedding sets you up for the way that you’ll handle money for the rest of your married life.

Think biblical stewardship. Our responsibility as Jesus-followers is to manage God’s wealth, and manage it well. And your wedding will be one of the earliest and biggest opportunities to practice this as a couple. I won’t go into too much scriptural detail on what the Bible says about money management because there’s already plenty of great content available on this. Click here to check out one of my favourites.  

Another principle that I’ll be touching on in this series is the idea that “what’s his is yours, and what’s yours is his.” Yes, the Bible talks about being one as husband and wife, which also applies to your finances. Check out this blog by someone who’s been married for 30 years (wow!) and shares about financial intimacy in marriage.

 

When you and your fiancé put God at the center of your wedding finances, God will take care of everything you need - including your sweet desires for the specific colours of your bouquet. You'll be surprised!

 

To get the most out of this blog series, I strongly suggest that you:

  1. Go through each post in sequence.
  2. Set a time with your fiancé to share your learnings and discuss your reflections
  3. Sign-up for the tools that I share in the blogs. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. They’re meant to make wedding planning easier for you and free you up to spend time on more important things (like preparing for your marriage).
  4. Leave me comments along the way. I’d be happy to address them as best as I can.

So here are my 4 Lessons on Weddings & Money:

  1. Building a Wedding Fund Without Borrowing Money
  2. Creating a Wedding Budget You Won’t Regret in Marriage
  3. Sticking to Your Wedding Budget While Investing In Your Future Marriage
  4. How to Get Organised With Your Wedding Funds

Anything else you’d like me to write about regarding ‘Weddings & Money’? Please write in the comment section below!

 

 

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