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5 Common Wedding Money Woes And How To Solve Them

Bickering over budgets? Spending in secret? These savvy finance tips will keep your costs (and your relationship!) on track…

19 Mar 2019

As exciting-but-scary steps go, spending over £30k on your wedding is a biggie. But whether you’re going all-out and funnelling your savings into one big blowout bash, or having a beautifully intimate BBQ on the beach for your closest family, budgeting isn’t always easy. Heck, even if money is no object, ‘Wait, where’s the cash gone?!’ confusion isn’t the best way to start married life. Here are some of the all-too-common pitfalls – and what you can do to sidestep them.

You’re hiding your spending infidelity

Even if your partner falls for the, ‘What, these old things?’ line when finding 26 pairs of diamanté Louboutins in the back of your wardrobe, hiding the fact that you’ve gone free-fall with the wedding budget can cause untold friction. "They might wonder what else you’re keeping from them," says Priscilla Sim, a relationship counsellor from Relate. "One person’s spending style can also affect the other’s – in unexpected ways. For instance, if you’re anxious about money, your partner might rebel and lie about costs."

How to find financial harmony

  • Vow to have a fib-free zone on anything that affects your joint wedding budget. You can still both have ‘fun money’, but agree a limit on how much you can each spend – no questions asked – without consulting one another. For example, anything under £100 gets the green light, but outlays of over £100 need to be discussed.
  • You could also consider the ‘three pot’ method, which is essentially a ‘Yours’, ‘Mine’ and ‘Ours’ budget. This means that both of you have cash at your disposal, but it protects the ‘ours’, which goes towards the big wedding costs, such as venue and catering.
  • Stay on top of the numbers by having a spreadsheet that you can both access (try Google Sheets), and get a joint saving and spending app such as Yolt or Money Dashboard.

One of you is a spend thrift while the other is a saver

You say ‘tomato’, your partner says, ‘Let’s buy a tomato-coloured Ferrari.’ Couples rarely have exactly the same ideas when it comes to big-day spending, and this can make the spender feel constrained and the saver feel insecure.

How to find financial harmony

  • "Accept that you each have a different money mindset, ethos and priorities, just as you have different tastes or skills and that might never change," says psychologist Karen Pine, co-author of Sheconomics. At a stalemate? If there’s a large outlay that you don’t agree on, discuss what you’ll have to sacrifice to have it. Also, think about the bigger picture and whether it’s fair. For instance, a custom-made doughnut wall might be something that only one of you wants, whereas the honeymoon is an experience you’ll both treasure forever.
  • Set up a regular standing order to a wedding saving account on the days you both get paid. Also, try the ‘out of sight, out of mind’ method by keeping savings in an account that you don’t know the password for off by heart, to stop you raiding it on a whim.
  • Think about the positives. Different approaches will ultimately help you work better as a team because seeing varying pros and cons enables you to make more-informed decisions together. But what if you’re both spenders or savers? Getting a third person involved – a money-savvy mate, a wedding planner or an independent financial advisor – will help you to find a balance.

One of you is controlling the funds

Let’s face it, not everyone digs spreadsheets – whether it’s through lack of time or simply not being that way minded. But not being ‘the budget monitor’ doesn’t mean that you or your partner should feel you can’t make decisions 50/50.

How to find financial harmony

  • If one of you earns more, is contributing more, or has parents who are are paying a larger chunk towards the wedding, it doesn’t mean that person has more say. "Who’s putting the money aside shouldn’t matter; it’s about respecting each other as partners and having an equal say in how you manage your money," says finance expert Jasmine Birtles of Moneymagpie.com.
  • Be honest about your strengths. If your fiancé(e) has a flair for the creative, while you’re more practical, put them in charge of decor and flowers while you take care of the nuts and bolts, such as the wedding venue, transport and managing suppliers.

Every time you talk money, you end up arguing

You haven’t just worked hard choosing the perfect wedding dress – hell, no. We bet our last Rolo you’ve sweated blood and tears to get your wedding budget together, so it’s hardly surprising that disagreements about how to save and spend (and whether a convoy of hired Bentleys is ‘essential’) can cause #facepalm moments. "What you’re discussing isn’t money itself, but your own attitudes," says Pine. "Money is so wrapped up in values, control, fear and childhood experiences that disagreements often aren’t what they seem."

How to find financial harmony

  • OK, so it’s not romantic, but having a businesslike approach to money chats can help prevent things getting fraught. "Vow that you’ll talk without judging and that you won’t interrupt each other, so you both feel heard," says Sim. "Pick a speaker and a listener, then swap roles. Focus on the practicalities, eg: what’s the problem? What is the solution? What are our options? What do we think? What’s the next step?"
  • Put a monthly date in the diary for a chat about money. The budget planner on Bridebook is fab for accurately predicting, planning and managing your expenses, and the tools on weddingplanner.co.uk are also useful.
  • Really desperate to have a certain item? Sit down on your own, list the reasons why it’s so important to you, then read them back to yourself, putting yourself in your partner’s shoes. Your gut will tell you whether it’s worth pushing for…

And then there’s your parents’ money

Gone are the expectations that the bride’s family will shoulder all of the costs, but in 25% of weddings*, parents are still making the biggest contribution – and in some cases, they may have ideas that don’t match yours. Cue a floral fracas...

Find financial harmony

  • Mother of the bride turning into Mobzilla? Be understanding: it all comes from a loving place. Give her a bit of the budget to control, such as the flowers or cake (tip: make it one you’re less bothered about), so she feels involved and that her opinion counts.
  • Get everyone on the same page in the planning process. If it’s guest-list inclusions they’re after, give them a set number ASAP, so they don’t have a chance to get carried away.

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