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How to Get Married Without Going Broke

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How to Get Married Without Going Broke

As spring arrives, albeit with great reluctance (at least here in the NY Metro area), wedding season is on its way.

With this highly anticipated time of year comes feelings of great expectations and no shortage of anxiety. The primary goal: to create a celebration that will be etched forever in the hearts and minds of the bride and groom, their families, and their friends.

Another important goal: to arrive at the end of the process without going broke.

Believe me, it’s a challenge. One reason for the challenge is that unless you make a hard stop for yourself, there is literally no top or upper limit that can be spent. That’s a scary thing to ponder; but let it sink in for a moment.

Whoever writes the checks (does anyone actually write checks anymore?) wants the special event to be spectacular. But in most cases, this person has a figure in mind that breaks the barrier between comfortable and “ouch!”

Saying “no” to a bride-to-be is probably not the happiest place to find yourself — and honestly, why would you?

Here’s a good reason to say “no”: when saying “yes” puts you on the road to financial hardship.

If there is any area where the crossover between money and emotion becomes evident it is in this arena. Wants can seamlessly become needs, leading to incremental increases in spending that seem meaningless, and end up busting your budget.

There, I’ve said it! BUDGET. Yikes!

Now there’s a concept that can strike terror into many an engaged couple. After all, what’s the big deal in adding six more guests or one more musician to the band?

Here are seven tips to consider before embarking on wedding plans:

1. Make it a group conversation. Regardless of who is ultimately writing the checks, bring in all the key people for a collaborative and productive conversation. Wedding planning is not a top-down management strategy.

2. As Stephen Covey said, “Begin with the end in mind.” What are you trying to accomplish and what are the key decisions? Take a step back. Ask important questions. Who is contributing? Who is doing what? How are decisions made? You know, the “Who, What, Where, When and How!” (You already know the “why”.)

3. Create a calendar of tasks, such as when deposits are due or contracts need to be signed. The whole process is better when there are no surprises with money.

4. Set boundaries and expectations. Nothing creates chaos faster than a lack of boundaries or expectations. Ask for agreement from everyone and continue the discussion until properly concluded.

5. In any spending plan (you know, a “budget”), input and control is vital. Create a Google or other shareable document and spreadsheet that all parties can see, add to, and most importantly, understand.

6. As in any plan, monitor your plan on a regular basis and make adjustments whenever and wherever appropriate.

7. If the budget looks like it’s going to break, consider the consequences and the options. Is creating financial misery or harm to your financial well-being worth the additional cost? While an argument can be made, and here’s where the emotion comes into play, you would be hard pressed to present a logical rebuttal.

Related: What a Toddler Can Teach Us About Money and Life

The path from engagement to the morning-after brunch can be long and challenging. There are a multitude of choices, opinions, decisions, and money to be allocated among all the categories that support the event (from attire to the Zebra Orchid). Consider the above seven steps to create a more peaceful and well thought out experience.

Oh, and congratulations! I hope your day goes perfectly!

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