Wedding season is now upon us, and on average each U.S. couple tying the knot will spend in excess of $30,000 for their big day. While it is easy to get caught up in all the details and the overall excitement, it is important to talk through some major issues. Here are the top 5 hot-topics I ask couples to think about before they say their vows:
1. Wedding Budget – Are you in agreement on the number of guests, the size of the bridal party, and how the honeymoon and all the event costs will be paid?
2. Household Finances– Have you fully disclosed your income, expenses, assets and liabilities? Do you know each other’s credit scores? Are you in sync regarding your desire to save vs. spend? How will you handle your household budget? Do you need to see a Financial Planner together and look into life insurance and updating your estate documents and beneficiary designations?
3. Separate vs. Marital Assets– What assets do you want to keep as separate? Are you going to maintain a separate account for any inheritances, gifts, or premarital funds? What will you consider joint? Do you want to memorialize your understanding in a legal document, i.e. a prenup or postnup?
4. Family– Do your families get along? If not, how will you handle holidays? Do you want to have children and if so, when? Are there already other children from previous relationships? If so, are you on the same page regarding the role a step-parent will play in that child’s life?
5. Conflict Resolution– How do you handle conflict together? Could you benefit from a class or some sessions with a couples counselor to improve your communication or coping skills?
These talks are not easy or fun, but they are necessary because the reality is that getting married is not just about falling in love and hosting a big party to celebrate with family and friends the fact that you have met someone that you find special and have fun with, but rather it’s about agreeing to build a life together, which requires you to be on the same page with your mission, vision and core values.
Are you unable to talk about the issues I’ve just raised? Well, then perhaps you aren’t really ready to get married just yet. No biggie– engagements get postponed or called off all the time precisely because during the courtship phase most people aren’t focused on the important questions that can make or break a marriage.
Unfortunately, love does not conquer all. So make sure you are on the same page now, rather than hope that someone will change as time goes by, especially with respect to finances, work ethic and family values.
By Regina A. DeMeo