One of the most enduring causes for a celebration is a wedding. The tight economy has meant that wedding spending is down according to some news sources, but it’s still not unusual for couples and families to spend $20,000 or more.
Mary Geissler, UW-Extension Family Living educator in Chippewa County and her colleagues conduct financial management classes throughout the state. They sometimes hear from family members concerned about the dent a large wedding might put in family finances. In some cases, families feel the effects of the expense long after the big day is over.
People sometimes consider using their retirement savings to pay for a wedding, but Geissler advises caution. “Consider very carefully the long-term implications of parting with money you’ve saved for retirement,” says Geissler. “Replacing money that took years to set aside can be difficult when you are reaching the end of your career.”
With many retirement plans lost in the reality of slim returns on lifelong investments, it’s wise for a family to carefully assess its financial position, Geissler suggests.
She also notes that borrowing money via loans, credit cards or fast-cash businesses can have a substantial impact on your financial situation.
Be aware that somewhere in all the wedding planning and discussions, expenses can grow quietly. “Put financial expectations on the table as soon as the wedding date is chosen. Set the limit on what you can realistically afford,” says Geissler.
But whether the budget is huge or very small, deciding on wedding expenses can be a great time for a couple to practice the negotiation skills they’ll need in the future: compromise, tolerance and patience. Many couples have different ideas about how they spend money; wedding planning provides a great opportunity about learning to work together toward what’s best for their circumstances.
Parents can sometimes add perspective to a young couple’s spending plans. While the couple feels they may be able to afford a big wedding, it might delay them from being able to purchase a home, replace a car, start a family or complete more education.
“Careful planning and good communication are the keys to a wonderful event that you and your guests will enjoy and remember for years,” says Geissler.
To learn more, contact your local county UW-Extension office. Contact information is available at http://yourcountyextensionoffice.org.