Top things to plan for when getting married

Make planning your wedding or civil ceremony as exciting as the day itself. Our tips could help to take some stress away.

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What you'll learn:

  • How setting a budget can stop you getting into debt.
  • Why you shouldn’t lose sight of your longer-term goals.
  • Why cash accounts are usually the best option if you’re saving for your wedding.

For any couple looking to tie the knot, their big day should be one of the happiest they experience together. However, a wedding or civil ceremony typically requires a significant amount of planning, and not just in logistical terms but financial too.

Importantly, brides and grooms-to-be should ensure that their big day doesn’t leave a massive hole in their finances, or pull them far off course from achieving their long-term financial goals.

This is perhaps easier said than done, given that according to many reports and surveys the average cost of a wedding these days is around the £20,000 plus mark. But bear in mind there are plenty of couples who manage to put it all together for far less. Ideally borrowing should be avoided, especially if you already have outstanding unsecured debts - ask yourself is it worth getting into debt for the sake of just one day?

Here are a few tips to help you keep the stress to a minimum and finances under control when planning your big day.

Set some ground rules and your budget

Before you jump into planning your big day start by agreeing an overall budget, and then work out how you intend to allocate this budget. Make sure you each understand what's most important to you both and then prioritise these aspects.

Once you agree on how much you want to spend, you need to figure out how you're going to fund the occasion. Are you going to split the cost? Or will your family contribute too? An expense tracker or planner will help keep track of how much you're spending and when payments are due. You can find expense trackers online or simply set up your own spreadsheet. Keep copies of all the paperwork from the various companies you deal with for your wedding too, as doing so will help you avoid going over budget and getting into debt.

You can avoid any unnecessary financial strain by allowing yourselves enough time to save for your wedding and your budget will ultimately determine how much cash you need. While a wedding is a priority in the short term, don't let it distract you from your longer-term financial goals.

Save efficiently

Unless you're planning a very long engagement, for example longer than five years, you're best sticking to cash savings. While investing could potentially deliver you a greater return over the long term, you run the very real risk of losing money. Investing should only ever be considered when you have a minimum time horizon of five years but preferably much longer.

It makes sense to open a savings account, which you can use solely for the purpose of saving for the big day, this way it's kept separate from the rest of your day-to-day finances. There's no shortage of savings account types on offer but you might want to consider one, which will get you in the habit of frequently putting away money. Regular savings accounts for example, usually offer generous rates of interest provided you pay in a set amount every month usually for a year.

Find out more about cash savings accounts

Remember too that the Personal Savings Allowance (PSA), which was introduced in April 2016, means:

  • Basic rate taxpayers (20%) can each earn up to £1,000 in interest tax-free
  • Higher rate taxpayers (40%) can each earn up to £500 in interest tax-free
  • Additional rate taxpayers are not entitled to any Personal Savings Allowance.

Find out more about the Personal Savings Allowance 

Remember you each have an Individual Savings Accounts (ISAs) allowance too (assuming that you're both UK residents). In the 2018-19 tax-year you can each save £20,000 into these tax-efficient accounts and there's no tax to pay on any interest earned for basic, higher or additional rate taxpayers.

You can put your full ISA allowance into a cash account, stocks and shares or peer-to-peer lending through an Innovative Finance ISA, although this last type of ISA carries its own special risks, or you can split it between the three. You can also pay up to £4,000 of your ISA allowance into a Lifetime ISA, to either save for your first home, or for your retirement if you are under 40.

Any interest or income you earn from ISAs doesn’t count towards your PSA, so ISAs are still well worth considering as part of your overall long-term savings and investment strategy especially if you're in the top-rate tax bracket and/or a big saver. Remember that tax rules can and do change, and their effects on you will depend on your individual circumstances, which can also change over time.

Consider some insurance

Given the level of cost and planning involved in putting your wedding day together, some couples take out wedding insurance, in case disaster strikes. This type of policy generally covers things like either you or your partner falling ill and the wedding having to be cancelled. They can also cover against factors such as one of your suppliers, including your caterers or venue, going out of business. If you're thinking of taking out such a policy, it's absolutely essential you read the small print and make sure you're completely clear on what it will and won't cover you against.

While there's a lot to think about when planning a wedding, remember that it's meant to be one of the most memorable days of both your lives. The main focus is you and your partner – very few people will recall what flowers adorned the tables. A bit of pre-planning will keep stress to a minimum so when the big day comes, you can relax and enjoy the occasion.

Once the big day is out of the way, make sure you're familiar with how your legal rights change once you are married.

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