It is every parents dream when your child or grandchild announces an engagement. Weddings bring joy, excitement, emotion you simply want to give your loved one their dream wedding and to support them in every possible way, including financially. But as we all know, nuptials can be extremely expensive. Whether you are the bride, the groom, the in-laws, the parents or grandparents here are a few tips that should help you get through the big day.
Prepare a budget
It is important to keep the wedding costs under control. A good first step, as you plan for the upcoming wedding, is to determine how much it will all cost. Make a list of everything you can think of that you will need for the engagement ceremony and the wedding day and an estimate of what each will cost. As you get price quotes, refine your budget and prioritize carefully.
Some of the typical high cost items that you need to consider include: attire, flowers, hiring of the venue, catering at the various events, the decor, the actual ceremonies, photographer and video coverage, the choir and organists as well as other musicians or DJ, rentals, stationary, gifts, party favors, hotel bookings, the honeymoon and more.
Who pays for what?
With the traditional white wedding, protocol was not financially kind to the bride’s family as they were expected to pay for the majority of the wedding costs; often a huge strain for the father of the bride. Fortunately, times have changed and it is common practice these days for both sets of parents to contribute; circumstances and not tradition now dictate who will pay what for a wedding; it’s more about who can afford to foot what can be exorbitant costs. If one family is far better off in terms of resources than the other, they may opt to foot the bill for one or two of the largest costs such as paying for the venue or catering.
Nowadays with many couples waiting longer to get married after having worked for a number of years, they can afford to settle a significant part of the expenses themselves.
Honest open communication and very early on, is key to ensure that the whole experience has as little friction as possible. a frank discussion with representatives of both families and the couple about what each party would be willing and able to contribute will help all stakeholders get a good sense of the couples hopes and expectations for the day. This can be a somewhat awkward conversation, so sensitivity is important.
Don’t feel bad if as a parent you can’t afford very much for the wedding; and, don’t get railroaded into something you really can’t afford. A wedding does not have to cost millions of Naira. With the global recession, it is inevitable that simpler, scaled-down weddings and other special occasions will become more the norm.
Keeping numbers down
The biggest factor influencing costs particularly in Nigerian weddings is the sheer number of guests that attend. Ideally one should be able to invite just the nearest and the dearest, but this is almost impossible to achieve in our society with large extended families and associates. Being firm about numbers can save you hundreds of thousands, even millions of naira, but might make you rather unpopular.
The destination wedding is a growing wedding trend, and can be a great solution for the couple that crave a beautiful day without all the pomp and circumstance of a typical Nigerian wedding. By escaping to a faraway location with closest friends and family, a couple can avoid the huge and often unmanageable crowd; this can be a great way to save money on your wedding.
Destination weddings also take away some of the major stress that comes with planning an elaborate affair. Many venues will plan the whole event for you with your honeymoon built in. You can invite as many or as few people as you want and they will pay their own way if they want to vacation and celebrate with you. It is a difficult choice for those with large families that might not be able to travel, but for if a couple is not looking to please every single family member and friend, it can be a good option.
Create a wedding list
Don’t be embarrassed about creating, and sending out, a wedding gift list. Most of your guests who are family, friends and colleagues would like to buy you a present. You don’t want to end up with six toasters, four kettles and 3 water filters so you might as well state what you want and need to save you having to buy them for your new home.
The easiest way to let people know what you want or need is to insert a gift list into your invitations. If your favourite Nigerian stores do not have a Gift List Service, introduce the idea to them and create one with them; some local stores in even manage the list for you and deliver your gifts after the wedding; they will be happy for the business.
Don’t jeopardize your retirement in the process
It is nice to always put their children first, but you cannot afford to sacrifice your retirement to fund their weddings. As far as possible, you must always be able to take care of your own needs. If you don’t take care of your retirement, there is no guarantee that your children will be able or willing to take care of you; It might be nice to move in with your children in your later years for care and companionship, but not because you are broke.
Putting away money for a wedding is secondary to contributing to your pension and retirement savings, and maintaining an emergency fund and up to date insurance; make these goals your priority.
Start early, plan ahead
The same way you should be following a savings regime to fund your child’s education, it is a good idea to put one in place to fund family weddings. Once you have passed the education financial hurdle, make this the next priority so you aren’t caught without funds for your child’s most special day.
Invest according to your time horizon and allocate assets accordingly. If the expected marriage is still nearly five years away, you might want to consider investing in a portfolio of stocks and bonds that have the potential for capital growth. An equity fund could be an ideal choice as it offers liquidity, flexibility, diversification and professional management.
For a wedding that’s just less than a year away, you cannot afford to risk stock market volatility so should be invested in short term money market instruments; fixed deposits, bank savings accounts or a money market mutual fund would be appropriate.
Use a wedding planner
There are benefits beyond saving you valuable time in using a wedding or event planner. Even where you are on a restricted budget, as most couples are, a wedding planner will help you set a realistic wedding budget, based on how much you have available to spend. The best ones, usually come with a wealth of knowledge they have garnered from vast experience relating to wedding etiquette, paying attention to the minutest detail, and handling last minute hitches. They have worked closely with professional suppliers and will be able to recommend the best people for your special day. They should have a good rapport with the best suppliers including venues, caterers, photographers, and should be in a position to negotiate discounts on your behalf. In most cases, a wedding planner will save you time stress and money.
Till debt us do part
Many couples or their families, decide that they must go all out for their wedding, they throw caution to the wind and pull out all the stops even where they can’t really afford to pay for it. Some will then take out wedding loans. Starting out in marriage, heavily in debt is a great stress for any newly married couple. For the bride and groom, as far as possible, it is best to avoid borrowing to finance the wedding and parents should try to discourage this. Don’t let the wedding ruin the marriage. Few things can set a marriage on a shaky start than money palaver.
If however, due to time constraints or short-term cash flow problems, borrowing makes more sense than selling assets that were to fund other goals, have a clear plan in place to quickly pay off the loan.
Far too many couples are caught up in the euphoria of the wedding that they don’t stop to discuss important issues such as personal finance. Research shows that financial concerns are among the most common sources of tension in relationships and have some part in most divorces; yet most couples go into marriage without ever broaching this subject. It may not be romantic, but it is important. After the excitement of the wedding ceremonies and all the festivity, be prepared to face a financial future together.