It’s not called your big day for nothing. Deciding to get married is one of the biggest decisions you’ll make in your life – and whether you’re having a traditional wedding or a more modern do, it can be expensive.
Traditionally, the bride’s family has been expected to cover most of the wedding costs, but couples are increasingly choosing to pay for their own weddings and they’ve become more flexible about who pays for what.
According to a report by the International Academy of Wedding and Event Planning, 68% of couples now fund most of their wedding expenses themselves.
You can of course make the event as big or as small as you like, but whatever you choose to do, figuring out how you’ll pay for it is an important part of making the day as happy and stress-free as possible.
Decide on the type of wedding
The first thing you need to do is talk to your partner about the kind of wedding the two of you want. Different expectations can cause problems, so the sooner this is discussed, the better.
Saving for a wedding takes time and financial strategising, so engaged couples need to talk about the details – the venue, décor, flowers, music and photography, for a start. The idea of a dream wedding is wonderful but make a distinction between what’s vital and what would be nice to have, and be willing to compromise.
Then decide if you’ll save for everything jointly or divide the expenses and save separately. You should also talk to your families to find out what they’ll pay for rather than make assumptions.
Review your spending
A detailed budget and an assessment of your spending is essential, says Dhashni Naidoo, programme manager for consumer education at FNB. You can see how much you’re able to save each month towards your goal only once you’ve done this.
“Look at any wasteful and unnecessary expenses,” she says.
“Takeaways, entertainment and clothing, for example, are some of the areas where you could redirect funds towards savings.”
Whenever you’re saving for something, especially something big, having a detailed budget and sticking to it is essential.
Find the right savings vehicle
“Saving for your wedding should be carefully planned to avoid getting into debt to cover a shortfall when the day arrives,” Naidoo says.
There are many factors to consider – how much you’ll need, the amount you can save every month to reach this goal, and the time you have in which to do it. Before you pick an investment product or savings vehicle, think about when you’ll need the money and what returns you expect, says Mthobisi Mthimkhulu, a team leader in the direct and private client team at Allan Gray investment management company.
A notice account is a good idea, Naidoo says, as it means you don’t have immediate access to the money.
Having to give the bank 30 days’ notice before you can withdraw the money forces you to plan well and is likely to prevent you dipping into your savings for other things. Mthimkhulu points out there are plenty of saving options, including investing in unit trusts or trading in shares.
Saving with a bank is probably the simplest option, he adds, because while the returns from a unit trust or share trading might be higher, so is the risk.
“You deposit money, and the bank promises you a certain level of return after a specified time,” he says.
If you’re saving for lobola as well as the wedding, you could open a savings account specifically for that.
Schedule monthly payments
Putting away money each month can be a challenge, so to make it easier for yourself and to stay on track, arrange automatic monthly payments from your transactional account into whatever saving vehicle you’re using.
“If you lack self-discipline, manual transfers aren’t advisable,” Naidoo says. “It’s too easy to be tempted to skip a month.
So use stop orders or scheduled payments on your banking app.”