We've all heard the harrowing statistics that couples argue more over money than anything else. And with a wedding presumably the biggest expense you've paid for together to-date, you're bound to have a bickering match or two. But luckily, our experts are here with tips to help you create and stick to your wedding budget fight-free.
Choose the right time to talk about your budget.
Creating a budget takes a well-timed conversation, says Jaclyn Fisher, owner of Two Little Birds Planning in Philadelphia. Because you can't have the open-and-honest talk you need if your timing is off. "Don't spring this conversation on your partner while trying to get ready for work one morning," she says. "Find a time that is convenient for both of you and be sure to allow enough time so you don't feel rushed."
Prioritize what you'll pay for.
Elle Kaplan, finance expert and founder of LexION Capital, says that before you set any budget, "couples should sit down and determine which budgeting issues are important to them, and which ones they don't really care about. You can stretch your budget by spending less on the unimportant costs, and avoid squabbles by allocating more towards hot-button issues."
Do your research.
Before you add any budget line to your total, investigate its true cost, Fisher recommends. "Understanding the realistic costs of items will alleviate stress of the unknown and ultimately arguments," she explains. "Use online budgeting tools. Understand your market. Talk to local married friends about what you should expect to pay for different things."
Give yourself a cushion.
"As most romantic comedies can attest, surprise issues do pop up during a wedding," Kaplan says. "Couples can avoid possible fights about going over budget by accounting for these problems in advance," and socking away a little cushion. So, "instead of spending up to the last penny, couples should leave a five percent or more wiggle room to avoid the potential headaches," she suggests.
Track your spending.
Once your budget is set, the best way to stick to it is to track your spending as you go. "What you have budgeted for each vendor and item is just an estimate," Fisher says, "and will likely cost a little more or hopefully a little less. Replace the estimate with the actual cost and shift your budget accordingly."
Give one another limited control.
"It's downright impossible to find a couple that agrees about every single issue in the world, so it's unrealistic to expect to be on the same page for everything wedding-related," Kaplan says. But you can avoid budget bickering by "setting up a portion of the budget that each partner has complete discretion over," she says. "For instance, if you both can't agree on flowers, you can let one person decide, while letting the other make all the food choices."
Think about the later-date details now.
Last-minute items are often what make or break a budget. "Details that are planned closer to the big day are often overlooked in the beginning of the planning process, which is when couples are creating their budgets," explains Fisher. "Think favors, programs, and welcome bags. Creating a comprehensive budget in the beginning can avoid an argument when these details are discussed later in the planning process."
Don't take on debt.
One way to ensure you don't set yourself up for a financial fight later is to avoid taking out loans to pay for your wedding. "Sure, you might avoid a short-term argument by overstretching your budget now, but you're setting yourself up for major long-term problems in the future," Kaplan says. "Debt can easily snowball thanks to the high interest rates on credit cards, especially when you add in the costs of a honeymoon, moving in together, and other marriage-related expenses."