Navigating financial conversations and decisions is one of the most taxing parts of planning a wedding, especially when it comes to staying within budget. Balancing the constraints of a budget, figuring out how to allocate that budget, and letting emotions be a part of the process can feel like an uphill battle during what should be an exciting time in your life.
"You have to make a lot of trade-offs and say no to yourself during this process, and that really is a resource that gets depleted," says financial therapist Amanda Clayman. "You are budgeting your emotional energy as much as you are budgeting money."
Meet the Expert
Amanda Clayman is a money coach and Prudential's Financial Wellness Advocate. She helps people explore and improve the role of money in their lives, decoding how thoughts, feelings, and associations shape their financial choices.
There are so many emotions that can come up around money while planning a wedding. They can be triggered in various ways, like when you find your dream dress but it’s far more expensive than what you budgeted to spend on a dress. This is where financial wellness comes into play. "It’s easiest to understand financial wellness as the ability to stay integrated and grounded emotionally as you engage in financial tasks," says Clayman. "So emotions may come up, but you’re not overwhelmed by them."
Managing the wedding budget can also cause recurring arguments in even the strongest relationships. "We become so attached to getting our way because we have one shot at this and everyone is trying to have their values expressed," says Clayman. "Every couple can work in a financial wellness framework no matter how big the budget is."
Ahead, we've rounded up Amanda's tips for practicing financial wellness and avoiding emotional burnout while planning your wedding.
Have the right attitude.
"There’s a lot of new [things] happening in this situation," says Clayman. "With every new beginning, the first place we want to start is having the right attitude." It's best to think of the wedding as a financial project with various subtasks as opposed to approaching it as one giant undertaking. Heading into the planning process with that mentality may help it seem more manageable and alleviate feelings of being overwhelmed.
Don't be afraid of conflict.
"We may be so overly afraid of conflict that even healthy conflict feels very dangerous," says Clayman. "Having disagreements over the wedding and the planning of the wedding, even though it can be very painful, is still a learning experience and relationship development experience." This is a great time for you, as a couple, to learn how to diffuse heated conversations, calm down, and reconnect.
Reframe compromise into co-giving.
"When talking about what’s important for the wedding, remember to add on 'to me,'” says Clayman. "Make a list of things that are important 'to us' and things that are important 'to me' individually." You are both trying to make decisions about what to do with the budget so that you both get the things that are most important to you. At the end of the day, you should always try to proceed in a way that facilitates a stronger relationship.
It's about more than just making a decision.
When you are trying to make a decision that you feel attached to, let’s say about the wedding cake, it’s obviously not just about the price of the dessert. There’s a tremendous amount of symbolism associated with the cake. You are definitely taking pictures of it, so it's going to be in your memory forever. Give yourself as much room as possible to think about what this decision means and feel your way around the topic.
Think of it as a learning experience.
"Money, even when you get it wrong, keeps showing up in your life and giving you another opportunity to get it right," says Clayman. "My belief is that money points us toward where we have opportunities to grow." The wedding is the very first stage in creating a new life with the person you love. Use it as a way to learn things about yourself that will make you a stronger person and partner.
Be respectful and curious.
"Be curious about each other’s point of view instead of trying to be right," says Clayman. "Make sure you’re both seeking to understand the other person and really listening." As you are come together to talk about the wedding, remember that you have a shared purpose, which is to plan a special event for everyone. Identify the opportunities where you can support your partner and make sure their needs are being met, too.
Give yourself lots of self-care.
"When we’re forced to deal with emotions pertaining to money, it can have a really transformative effect," says Clayman. Make sure to take mental and emotional breaks and continue to do the things you love, like signing up for your favorite workout class or getting a massage. Planning a wedding should not consume your life, only enrich it.