CONGRATULATIONS on your engagement!

How exciting is it to start this journey toward married life? And of course, planning your big day! The days, weeks & months to come will be filled with tons of ideas, countless social media images, and non-stop suggestions from well-intentioned loved ones. BUT….before you get caught up in the whirlwind of it all, there are a few things you & your future spouse should do first.

Getting engaged is such an exciting moment that often comes with a flood of emotions. After the initial joy of “yes”, a new wave of joy and excitement comes each time you share the news with family and friends. The days and weeks following your engagement are a time for you both to take in all the love & positive energy around you & bask in the glow of the next phase of your relationship, because the truth is, -ish is about to get real! So take your time. Don’t rush and start planning right away. Take a few weeks to breathe & relish in the realization that you’re getting married!!

Once you’re settled in your excitement, the next step is to shift to the practical, and sometimes challenging, discussion about finances. Before you look at a single color palette, dress, tux, venue or flower, look at your money! Your wedding is an incredible moment in your life. You want it to be perfect and all that you’ve dreamt of. However, every piece of that dream comes with a price tag. So before you start planning, work with your partner (and anyone else who may be contributing) to figure out what you can reasonably afford. Be honest with yourself. Be realistic about your income, savings & spending habits. The truth is, your wedding is just one day, but your marriage is meant to be a lifetime. So set a manageable max spending limit that doesn’t put you into debt. You don’t want to spend so much for your wedding that you’re still paying for it 5 or 10 years into your marriage. As a couple, your goal should be to build a life, not just a day.

Every wedding with a budget (regardless of the size of that budget) has to make choices in the context of their monetary limitations. With those limits comes the need to prioritize your purchases. Are pictures/video most important? Ambiance? The food? The party? Identify your top 3-4 must haves. Once you come to an agreement (with compromise, as necessary), you’ll have created guidelines for where to allocate your funds moving forward. For example, if you have a choice between spending $3000 on a cake or that same $3000 on a DJ, and you’ve agreed that a great party is a must have, then your decision is easy and you invest accordingly. Now, your priorities can change as you progress through the planning process, but both parties should agree on the changes. Unilateral changes to a mutual agreement could lead to more significant issues later (but that’s a whole other topic). So stick to the original agreement, unless you both want to make a change, and let this drive the how you invest the funds within your budget to make your day perfect.

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