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Marcy E. Thornton

Hey, big spender …

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Posted: July 14, 2007 2:35 p.m.
Updated: July 29, 2007 5:00 a.m.
    In last week’s column, I suggested that the easiest way to begin planning your wedding is to make a list of your (and your fiancé’s) fantasy wedding requirements. Now, however, is the time to get down to the bottom line. A wedding should not, under any circumstances, put your marriage in the red. The ugly truth is that, according to wedding author Jennifer L. Shawne, the average wedding costs about twenty thousand dollars. Yep, that’s a two followed by four zeros.
    It only makes sense to take a realistic look at your finances before you plan a wedding. It’s your day to be a princess or a prince, but there is absolutely no reason for you to spend like one. There are two things to think about when it comes to planning a wedding financially: prioritizing and finding the money.
    Try this: In Shawne’s book, “Instant Weddings: From ‘Will You?’ to ‘I Do!’ in Four Months or Less” ($4.61 at amazon.com), the author suggests that money-stretched couples (especially those in a hurry) need to figure out from the start exactly what is and isn’t important.
    “Identifying priorities is not easy. The process forces you to search deep inside and figure out just what it is you really want, that you really care about,” Shawne said.
    “The good news is that by setting priorities you and your sweetie will be working things out in advance.”
    Sit down with your future mate and go over your fantasy list. What did each of you have the most vivid imaginings about? Maybe in your fantasy, all you could think about was walking down the aisle to “When a Man Loves a Woman,” and doing the Jitterbug at the reception. If that was the case, you’ve got tunes on the brain, and music is your number one priority for your wedding.
If the musicality of your wedding is numero uno in your wedding playbook, then it might not matter if you go for carnations over roses, so long as you’ve got Big Bad Voodoo Daddy playing your reception. Whatever you and your significant other are into, the key to setting priorities is being willing to give a little in the areas that matter less, so you can save your money for what’s really important to you.
    This brings us to the ugly part of wedding planning. Eventually, somebody somewhere is going to have to reach into the proverbial pocketbook in order for your perfect day to happen. So, who’s it going to be?
    “Taking out a loan means starting your marriage in debt, which may hinder attempts to get a mortgage or cause unnecessary stress. Borrowing from parents may lead to hard feelings when payment comes due,” Shawne said.
    “Using your savings means it won’t be there for emergencies. Older newlyweds may prefer a modest wedding to keep their retirement funds intact.”
    There is no easy answer to the money question, since everyone has his and her own financial agenda. The traditional answer is that the bride’s parents pay for the wedding, but that might not work for you. Not everyone’s parents are financially able to contribute, and that is OK. Also, if this isn’t your first marriage, or you’re marrying at a later age, parental contribution may be out of the picture completely.
    Whether you take out a loan, cash in your mutual fund, use your savings, or rely on the generosity of others, make sure you have the money in hand as soon as you plan on shopping for vendors. After all, caterers, bridal shops, bakeries and DJs all have one thing in common — they demand money up front.

    Marcy E. Thornton is a senior English major at GSU, and is engaged to become Mrs. Carl W. Bonebright in September of 2008.  She welcomes any tips, comments or questions via e-mail at SobriquetF1@yahoo.com.
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