How to stop wedding stress from affecting your relationship – part 1, finances

Planning a wedding can be the most fun you’ve ever had in your life. Simultaneously, it can also be a highly stressful experience. Over the last two years, I’ve talked to countless brides and grooms, and I’ve been amazed at how wedding stress can highlight the same typical issues that arise in many relationships.

It’s almost a test of your communication, tolerance and respect for one another, that before you commit to a life together you go through this expensive, intensive ritual of deciding on how to go about making that commitment.

So I thought I’d write a series of posts and go through a few of the issues that have come up for other couples – all gender neutral of course as all of the listed problems can easily happen to either partner of either sex and in same-sex relationships. Today we’re looking at how budget issues can stick a wedge in between two people in love – and how to stop these bumps in the road from ruining your happiness.

Image © 2012 Modern Vintage Weddings

So you’re planning a wedding – what could go wrong?

Money, money, money

You’ve always dreamed of a lavish celebration with no expense spared. Your other half, however, doesn’t see why there needs to be such a big fuss, and believes more in saving for the future. Conversations about the wedding budget are becoming tense and difficult and arguments about money are becoming more and more frequent.

The answer: Every relationship is different – everyone’s financial circumstances are different, and unfortunately in this situation a compromise can be difficult to reach. The only way to solve a problem like a disagreement over money is to talk about it in stages. It’s extremely hard to do, but if you’re the partner intent on having an expensive wedding, first of all extract all emotion from the equation and take a cold, hard look at your finances. The following factors are important:

Your combined salaries and outgoings. Whatever’s left over is your disposable income.
What you can cut back on or sacrifice to stretch your disposable income further.
Any offered contributions from friends or family.
How long you’re willing to wait before you get married.
What your plans are after marriage and how much needs to be saved for those plans.

Once you have the figures in your hands, it’s much easier to have a reasonable conversation about what’s realistic for the two of you. However, if you’re the partner that doesn’t want to spend a lot of money on a wedding, you must also understand the following:

Some people have been dreaming about their wedding day forever.
Emotions aren’t always logical – and you might not always be able to understand what excites someone else. But be sure to ask yourself if you’re being completely practical or a tad inflexible. Can you reach a compromise to give your loved one the day of their dreams?

If both of you are able to see where the other is coming from, then you can start to try to reach a proper compromise. You might want to think about the following:

Make a list of all the things you’d love to have – and then see if they can be found or sourced in a less expensive way. You could find a variation on that dream dress for half the price, for example. Blogs and magazines are great resources for this sort of thing, so get clicking and see which bargains you can find.
There are loads of websites out there selling pre-loved wedding items, as well as wedding car boot sales that are popping up around the country. You could find exactly what you’re looking for at a bargain price.
Prioritise your wedding lust list. For example, John and I didn’t have cars as we had the wedding at one venue and I didn’t want people to see me arriving anyway. It seemed like a waste of money in our particular circumstances. Make a list of must-haves, willing to spend less on and not important at all. That way you can slash your budget by cutting out any extra costs.
Cut down your guest list. If you’re having people there just to be polite or to make up numbers, don’t! It doesn’t matter if you have five people in the world that are important to you or fifty, but if you’re having lots of extras for the sake of having more bodies there, then think about how cutting the guest list could free up your budget for other things. I must say, though, only do this if you’re happy not to have the extra people there!
Get crafty – and think about what you already own that you could use to craft for the wedding. We had a lot of little vintage props around the house anyway, and they all got used as part of the wedding decoration scheme. You can save a lot of money doing things yourself – however, before you commit to any projects, make sure you work out a budget for all the components and compare it to buying outright to see if the difference in price is worth the investment in time.
 See what skills you have that could be traded with like-minded professionals. For example, if you’re a masseuse, could you give a course of massages in exchange for a service? Or if you’re a copywriter, could you spruce up someone’s website copy? These arrangements aren’t for everyone (and make sure you all lay out your terms very clearly and in writing) and they must be declared to the tax man, but they’re worth considering if these circumstances apply to you.

Compromises are tricky things to reach in a relationship, but if you both decide to be flexible and fair, you can have the wedding you both want and avoid breaking the bank. Make sure that you communicate in a way that isn’t attacking or aggressive, and try to explain your feelings to each other without laying blame. Once you understand each other properly and you’re both willing to try, you can get through this rough patch in your relationship. 

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