When two people decide to spend their lives together, it can be hard waiting to begin. Many couples choose to consolidate the process by planning their wedding at the same time they look for their first home together. Both planning a wedding and the process of buying a new home are costly, time consuming endeavors on their own. Juggling the two is even more difficult.
Open the Lines of Communication
Before you take the first step towards these grand expenses, it is imperative to sit down with your partner and discuss your mutual financial goals. Couples from different financial backgrounds may have varying approaches towards matters such as saving for retirement. By talking things out and setting clear expectations from the get go, you can avoid several conflicts in the future.
Additionally, this is a great time to communicate expectations regarding the wedding as well as your future home. Some couples have similar tastes, which makes it easy. However, if your partner expects a lavish wedding and a Tudor home when you prefer to keep it intimate and have always dreamed of owning something more art deco, you’re going to have some compromising ahead of you.
Set a Spending Limit
Once the two of you have clearly communicated your expectations and desires, it’s easier to set limits. Set a hard and fast spending limit for the wedding. You may have to be more flexible when it comes to buying a home. Changes in the housing market and the will of the banks may make it so you need to spend a little more than desired. However, when it comes to weddings, there’s always something you can cut back on or leave out entirely.
The average cost of a wedding is $30,000, according to CNN Money. Whether or not your spending limit is more or less than that is up to your previously determined goals and expectations.
Create a Spending Plan
A bit more flexible than a plain budget, your spending plan will help you track where your money is going and when. SmartAboutMoney.org outlines four steps to creating your plan:
- Identify Income - Before you can decide what to do with your money, you need to know how much you have now and how much you plan to have going forward. Do you both plan to keep working once you’re married or does one of you want to stay home? Are there any raises expected in your future? How much savings do you have to fall back on in case of emergency?
- List Expenses - Track the costs of your wedding separate from the costs of buying a home. In addition to tracking everything by item, also create a timeline so you know when things are due. With the right tracking, you may be able to disperse expenses over time so you aren’t losing large chunks of cash all at once.
- Compare Income and Expenses - Once you know your income and future expenses, net the difference to find out how much cash you have leftover. If your wedding and home buying ventures cut deep into your living expenses, it’s time to re-evaluate priorities.
- Set Priorities and Make Changes - If you make enough together to plan the wedding of your dreams and buy a home at the same time all while maintaining your quality of life, that’s great! If not, it’s time to think about how to compromise. Do you need to go on a honeymoon right after the wedding or can you postpone it? Could you search exclusively for foreclosured homes to help curb expenses? Be flexible and open with each other-- this is the first big test of your marriage!
Move In Before Wedding
If you are able to find a house to buy before the wedding, expedite the moving process to be completely moved in before the wedding. Once all the chaos is over, you’re going to want a safe haven to escape to as a couple. Having your first house already established allows you to focus on your critical first months of marriage without the stress of moving.
While buying a house and planning a wedding at the same time are both costly and stressful, many couples do it as they prepare to spend their lives together. Being open about finances and expectations is paramount. Setting limits and crafting a flexible spending plan helps you navigate the processes while reducing conflict. Finally, moving in before the wedding helps you bond as a couple and gives you a place to recharge after the hyperactivity of a wedding.