When it comes to wedding planning, good things come to those who communicate. Consider this your art-of-conversation cheat sheet.
See our Autumn issue for advice on chatting with your parents and bridal party!
“What’s our overall budget?”
Why it’s important: Embarking upon married life under a cloud of debt is a certain way to get off to an uncomfortable start. “Think about wedding costs in relation to your other goals for your first year of marriage,” says financial planner Deborah Carlyon (stuartcarlyon.co.nz). “You don’t want that year to be overshadowed with financial burden.”
Ideal time to talk: At the outset, says Deborah. Settling on a budget before making any decisions will stop you overspending and having to make sacrifices in other areas later.
What to do first: Find out how much money you have to work with; include any extra contributions from your parents, for example.Get a realistic idea of what each wedding element will cost by contacting a range of local vendors – aim for three venues, three florists and so on – for ballpark quotes. Asking friends for recommendations is also a good way to get an honest review, or arrange a one-off consultation with a wedding planner. As well as saving a lot of legwork, they’ll be able to provide tips that could help shrink your spend.
How to bring it up: Get right to the point. Organise a focused planning session complete with bank statements, an Excel spreadsheet and the quotes you’ve gathered so you can come to an honest assessment of your disposable income. Be sure to allocate 10 per cent of your budget to ‘unanticipated expenses’ – a buffer that can act as your safety net.
Possible roadblock: An inability to agree on a budget. If, even after a discussion, you and your partner disagree on the figure then planning will get difficult. Deborah’s advice is to compromise. “If one aspect of the wedding is really important to one partner, they should be able to explain why, and then be prepared to cut other costs.”
“What are our priorities?”
Why it’s important: If you’re on a tight budget, then certain ideas are bound to be banished due to expense. Establishing priorities will help you stay true to your vision. Similarly, if you have a short planning period, this step will help you use time more efficiently.
Ideal time to talk: While you are finalising your initial budget and before you decide on the amount to be spent on each element.
What to do first: Create an overall budget.
How to bring it up: Introduce the subject in a fun way, by teaming up to write a ‘money no object’ list of everything your dream day would entail. Then rank the items in order of importance, assigning realistic costs to each. Eliminate or downsize where necessary until your vision and the budget align.
Possible roadblock: Mismatched priorities. He wants 20 more guests and you’d rather splurge on food. He wants to hire a classic car and you can’t imagine a bigger waste of money. The key here is communication, says wedding planner Emma Newman. “Explain to each other why certain aspects are important to you,” she says. “If neither of you understand the other’s thinking, it’ll be difficult to reach an agreement.”
“What is my responsibility?”
Why it’s important: Establishing roles will ensure a balance in involvement is maintained. If you both feel a sense of ownership over the day, says Emma, you will both enjoy it more.
Ideal time to talk: At the beginning of the planning process, says relationship counsellor Mary Farrell. “Be direct, as unspoken expectations may result in disappointment later if you’ve assumed your partner knows what responsibilities you want.”
What to do first: Find a wedding planning timeline (see the New Zealand Weddings Planner) so you have a clear overview of the tasks that need completing.
How to bring it up: Checklist in hand, ask whether there are any components he’d especially like to organise. Assign the tasks accordingly, highlighting any that neither of you are keen on – you can double-team these.Possible roadblocks: One of you goes MIA during planning. In this situation, says Emma, it’s important you’re both on the same wavelength about what a lack of involvement means. “Be sure you aren’t staying quiet because you feel your opinion will be ignored.”
“How active do we need to be?”
Why it’s important: Work, household chores, exercise, socialising – maintaining balance in life is hard enough without adding ‘plan
a wedding’ to the to-do list. Allocating specific planning times regularly will prevent you
from falling behind or allowing the event to
Ideal time to talk: Regularly. The process can sway between hectic and calm, meaning some weeks it won’t be possible to spend a spare two hours on ‘wedmin’, even if this is what you had planned. Constant re-evaluation will keep you in tune with how you’re tracking.
What to do first: Establish your to-do list and timeline, so you’re aware of what needs to be achieved and by when.
How to bring it up: Include this discussion in other wedding-related talks to help keep the timing relevant to each task at hand.
Possible road block: Work and alternative commitments prevent you from sticking to your schedule. A strong dose of realism is key to smooth planning. If you both have obligations that demand lots of time, consider hiring a planner to take care of logistics. If budget is an issue, be upfront with your planner – often their contacts and expertise mean you can save in other areas.