In 2014, the average wedding cost $26,601 — no small sum. The median cost is lower, but almost
any way you slice it, weddings are expensive. And paying for them can be stressful.
Before your clients contribute any money towards a wedding, give them this handout to avoid
matrimonial money mayhem. I know the tips worked for my wife and me.
1)Don’t wreck your retirement fund for a wedding. Too often people think it’s important to put on a big show or spend a ton of money on a wedding when they’re already behind on
their savings — they’ll pull from retirement accounts, which can be a huge mistake. Say you paid
for the average $26,601 wedding; that money could have grown to $75,000-$100,000 over 15 years
or more if it had remained invested. Ask yourself: Will the party be worth two or three times the
amount you withdraw?
2)Be upfront about finances. Be honest from the start with the bride and groom. Let them know where things stand regardless if you’re making a large contribution or not. If possible,
include the in-laws, too. Having an open dialogue helps avoid miscommunication and the accompanying hard feelings. Traditionally, the bride’s parents paid for most of the wedding costs, but
today, it’s becoming more of a joint effort. With more people marrying later in life, the bride and
groom could possibly contribute. If they can, they should.
3)Create a budget and stick to it. It wouldn’t surprise me to find a correlation between wedding costs and heart trouble. This tip is to help eliminate wedding financial stress. Set a
budget early and let the kids spend it as they wish. Most importantly, stick to the number. Then
they can plan, and you reduce your financial stress. My daughter knew exactly how much we’d
contribute from day one. Then they designed their wedding and funded the extras themselves.
4)Save early. Most parents don’t start saving for weddings early because of other financial obligations. This makes dipping into retirement savings seem like a viable option — but
generally it’s not. Start saving for a wedding as early as you can. A little set aside regularly over
time adds up.
5)Tap cash value life insurance. Cash value life insurance is a great source of funds for things like weddings and college because when you have money built up in a policy, you can
borrow from it via the insurance company.
6)Even if you contribute, it’s not about you. While not necessarily a money-saving tip, it’s incredibly valuable to remember it’s the kids’ wedding, even if you don’t like their choices with
your money. To keep things harmonious long after the nuptials (i.e. stay on good terms, see the
grandkids). Sometimes it’s best to butt out. Your contribution isn’t leverage to get your way.
Remember, something will go wrong on the special day. A great marriage is the goal, not the
perfect wedding. Contribute to their great marriage!
7)HAVE FUN. It’s a special occasion for everyone involved so enjoy it!
Using these tips, you’ll lay the groundwork for a stress-free wedding day so you can celebrate the
happy couple and the guests as much as possible. What you don’t want to do as a parent is think
about the thousands of dollars in accumulated debt or big hit to your retirement it took to make
everything happen. RA
By Dave Henderson, CFP, ChFC, CLU
THE WEDDING PLANNER
7 tips to share with clients