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Saving for a wedding: Are men really hopeless romantics

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Planning for a wedding

Valentine’s Day is not far away and it’s a traditional peak period for marriage proposals (no pressure guys). Summer is also the season for weddings. If you’re already in the throes of planning your wedding it’s worth investing some extra time into doing your homework as it could avoid unnecessary wedding debt. Psychologist and RaboDirect guest writer Nick Petrovic talks us through some of the psychology behind the big day.

A common belief among many is that weddings are all about the bride. We often hear that a woman has dreamt of her special day since childhood and as many grooms will attest, details which once seemed trivial can become the subject of heated debate and consideration. It may be surprising therefore to discover that in the RaboDirect National Debt and Savings Barometer conducted last year, when asked about saving for a wedding, it was the Gen Y men rather than their female counterparts who were more willing to go into debt to finance their wedding.

For some men, the desire to show their bride that they are able to provide for them may be a motivator. For others, they may feel that a bigger wedding will equate to a better experience, or they may simply feel that it is expected of them. Whether men are simply hopeless romantics or other factors are at play, there are some simple steps that can be taken to ensure that wedding debt is minimised and, in the process, communication skills and relationship strength enhanced.

The psychology of weddings

In theory, a wedding should be about a couple devoting themselves to one another and little more. In reality, however, weddings have fast become one of the major expenses a person will finance, alongside a car, home, raising children and possibly an investment property. Weddings are one of the few big expenses that do not result in concrete, attainable possessions. Instead, they are made up of experiences and memories.

Weddings are highly symbolic, and for some a wedding can be laden with status markers. From the cars to the reception venue, a wedding can not only tell our guests what we like, but how much money we spent to get it. Understanding your own personal willingness to go into debt in order to finance your wedding is vital when trying to save. When making financial decisions, ask yourself, “What’s driving this decision?”

Get on the same page

Perhaps the most important step in planning and saving for a wedding is to be on the same page as your partner. The last thing you want is to make large purchases under the assumption that your other half would want you to, only to discover they actually weren’t too bothered. Communication is key, so work out which things are important and which are not.

It can be useful to be guided by meaningfulness at times when trivial decisions become overwhelming. Ask yourself and each other how much it will matter to you both. Can you make financial compromises with that item? And don’t be sacred of the tough questions: “Am I happy to continue paying for this item after our wedding day has passed?” This also applies towards parents saving for the wedding.

Do your homework

We often make big purchases at the last moment. Forgotten items, alterations or simply spur-of-the-moment decisions can be costly in the long run. Doing your homework about what you both want and how much you plan to spend can be helpful in setting the guidelines. Don’t assume that you can remember all the details – write them down and plan ahead. It can be a good idea to decide ahead which items you are happy to splurge on, and start saving for these specific costs early on.

Be realistic about your own and each other’s expectations

Like any big financial decision, it’s easy to become fixated on small details when in reality they may have little impact on the final outcome. Be realistic about the impact items will have and try to focus on what is most important: the marriage that comes afterwards.

Going into debt for a wedding isn’t a necessity. While the wedding of your dreams may come at a high price, by doing your research and finding common ground with your partner, you can minimise the need for all your savings (and borrowings) to be thrown into the big day.