GUEST COLUMN: Avoid the wedding blues

Financial planning strategies for brides and grooms as they plan their wedding day.

Many brides and grooms have a special wedding song that becomes the tuneful touchstone of their new partnership.

And because we’re now deep into the peak marriage season (according to Statistics Canada, there are close to 67,000 weddings across Canada during June, July and August), this is a great time to take a look at the best financial planning strategies for brides and grooms, so you and your new partner won’t end up having your special wedding song drowned out by the wedding bill blues.

Here’s how to cope with wedding costs.

Look beyond the hors d’oeuvres and Champagne,  and instead at your long-term financial life. Plan for a terrific wedding within a reasonable, affordable budget, and discuss all of your goals, financial and otherwise.

Avoid the lingering costs of a plastic wedding. Put your credit cards away. Pay for your wedding with money you’ve saved, and don’t pay from your investments or retirement fund or you’ll end up paying for your wedding for many, many years.

As an example, if you ring up your credit card with $25,000 in wedding expenses, at 14 per cent interest and only make the minimum payment each month, you’ll make your final payment on your 100th anniversary.

Stick to your wedding budget. It’s easy to suffer from the wedding budget bulge, but be strong. And while you’re practising prudence, why not set other financial goals.

Here’s a simple budget template to get you going (write down the figures):

How much debt is each of us bringing to our marriage?

How much money have we saved so far?

What is our combined monthly income (salary and other income)?

What are our monthly costs?

How much can we afford to put into our wedding fund each month?

How much can we afford to save/invest to achieve our other dreams?

Here are a few other marital tidbits to consider:

It’s a tough time to talk about it, but a pre-nuptial agreement might be in order.

Despite the expense, weddings can end up being money-makers. You need to decide what to do with those funds – pay off student debt or loans, make a home down payment or start contributing to investments held with a registered retirement savings account or a tax-free savings account.

Be sure to update your wills.

Get a head start on your debt-free wedding and a comfortable financial life together.

Andy Erickson is the division director with Investors Group, Vernon. This article is provided for information purposes only. Please consult with a professional advisor before implementing a strategy.