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Wedding Costs – Keep it Affordable

Most romantics out there already know that it was Valentine’s Day this week. The chances are this will result in there being a number of marriage proposals. As weddings are often in the spring or summer, the newly engaged couples and their parents will no doubt spend a considerable amount of time in the coming months planning for the big event.

Weddings are supposed to be a time of celebration and honeymoons for the brides and grooms who dream of living happily ever after.  Lavish weddings may be in vogue. The challenge is to put on a wedding that matches or outshines the expectations of families and friends but without going broke. 

Getting married should be about you and your partner making a public commitment to each other in a way that you will each remember and reflect on for the rest of your lives.  It’s something you create primarily for your benefit, or for your parents.  Your guests are there to share your experience, but remember it is your day, not theirs.  Creating a memorable and beautiful wedding doesn’t have to be expensive. 

You have a whole future to plan that includes developing your careers, perhaps some travel, buying a house and for most couples having a family.  Spend too much on the first milestone and there’s not much left for the others.  As a couple, you will need to be able to talk about and agree on financial matters, for the rest of your lives.

Planning a wedding will be a good test of how well you can work together to set priorities for your money.  Your attitudes towards money are determined by many different factors including your childhood experiences, your feelings about risk and security, and the degree to which you are willing to make short term sacrifices for long term gain. 

Experience shows that often partners have different attitudes towards money.  That’s not to say that one of you is right and the other is wrong.  You need to try and understand each other’s perspective and reach compromises over areas where you differ. 

The sooner you start talking together about the budget for your wedding the better.   It’s also important to agree who is paying for what.  As many weddings are paid for by both sets of parents and the bride and groom, it may prove difficult establishing a budget that appeases them all.  Set a budget, and stick to it.  With an amount agreed, look at how you are going to finance it. 

It’s never a good idea to go into debt to pay for a wedding and doing so will create a major hurdle for you to get over before you can achieve your next big goal.  Perhaps we should learn from the Chinese.  For centuries, they have given money (‘ang pau’ or ‘red envelopes’) rather than gifts at weddings.  This seems to be becoming increasingly popular in New Zealand, although the money is often used to fund a delayed honeymoon. Gifts of toasters and linen no longer seem appropriate in this era, when many couples often live together prior to marriage.


Steven Barton (FSP 32663) and Susan Pascoe Barton (FSP 32382) are Whakatane based Certified Financial Planners and Authorised Financial Advisers.  Their initial disclosure statements are available free of charge by contacting them on (07) 3060080 or they can be downloaded from www.pascoebarton.co.nz. This column is general in nature and should not be regarded as personalised investment advice.