Tag Archives: engagement

How to pay for everything else that isn’t the wedding

As much as I love discussions about wedding budgets, and I think there’s not nearly enough of that going on, I also think they’re a bit misleading. In the bigger financial picture, there is so much more to getting married than putting on a wedding.

Things that are not in my official wedding budget, but are marriage related include:
Rings. And I didn’t even have an engagement ring, which let’s face it, is common practice and tends to be costly. We are having wedding rings though, and those things are important to me and something we intend to wear forever. So it’s not a trivial cost.
Honeymoon. Hello. WHY does no one talk  about how they financed the honeymoon.
A physical photo album. Turns out, digital files get corrupted. I’ve got my eye on A La Carte Albums*.
Makeup, shoes, jewellery or any other thing that will get re-used but still has to be bought for the wedding.
A thousand incidental costs that will occur close to the wedding. Stuff like picking people up from the airport, making sure we have enough sheets, pillows etc. for everyone who’s staying over, taking visitors out on site seeing excursions. Giving them lots of cups of tea.

In addition, many like to indulge in such pleasures as
A rehearsal dinner, which is evidently A Thing in the States, but happily is yet to become A Thing in other places, as far as I can tell (long may this last!).
An engagement party.
An engagement
‘sesh’ oh god that term is like nails on chalkboards. Please just say session. While we’re at it, please tell me that I am not the only one who finds the term ‘adorbz’ to be kind of, irritz. It’s just really annoyz.  It makes me want to have a stomping sesh.  
Honeymoon attire. 

And probably a bunch of things I couldn’t even think of. Oh yeah, and I also just remembered that some time next year, M and I will be having a second wedding reception in our hometown, Auckland, for all the peeps there that couldn’t make it.

So that’s all quite a lot. And if you are following the guidelines of basic personal finance advice, you should be doing all of this without a) going into debt, or b), sacrificing your long term savings.

Back when I wrote the How to Decide on Your Wedding Budget series, I talked about the fact that typically you might have 10-20% of your annual post-tax income to spend on stuff that isn’t bills and other day to day expenses. So I reckoned 10-20% was a reasonable wedding cost, and chose 10% as the benchmark to use as a way of erring on the cautious side. But now I realise that it wasn’t cautious at all: you’re probably going to need the entire other 10% to fund all this other stuff. And this is assuming you don’t have even more financial demands the year leading up to your wedding – student loans, an emergency, a friend’s wedding in Bali to attend. A period of unemployment. Gah!

There’s really no way around it. The year before your marriage is going to be expensive. Your options are going to be to keep the actual wedding costs at 10% or less of your income, and watch what you’re doing with the engagement, honeymoon plans, and rings whilst hoping to have no emergencies, to keep the total under 20%, OR since a lot of people are already under a lot of financial pressure and don’t have that money to spare, do without all those extras. Though you probably still want rings. In light of my revelation the other week that plenty of people can’t really manage even just the wedding without family help, all of this is pretty bleak.

Ultimate moral of this story: I wish the majority of wedding blogs were about small budget weddings.  Sigh, what’s new.

*This company will edit your wedding photos and compile them into an album.  I really dig this because it meshes perfectly with the idea that your wedding photos are going to be taken by lots of people (ie, a few by professionals plus lots by multiple guests). A La Carte Albums will put them into a coherent narrative. Such a great option for those of us who can’t afford/refuse to buy the big packages from photographers.

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What happens when you tell people you’re engaged

It’s been two weeks since we got engaged, and the business of spreading the news is now over…more or less. Turns out, it’s not as straightforward an operation you think it’s going to be, and the aftermath is not necessarily what you think it’s going to be either.

1. News spreading

There’s a touch of project management when it comes to news spreading. There’s tasks that can’t be done before other tasks are done, and there are delays that stop one series of linear tasks from progressing, while another branch of tasks speeds ahead and is waiting on you to catch up and do the next one. That sort of thing.

The essential thing is that the gossip radiating out from you spreads out evenly at an equal pace in all directions – I don’t want it to have reached an outer layer on my left when I haven’t yet reached the second layer on right. Make sense? 😉

We wanted it to go more or less in this order: Parents & immediate family, close friends, extended family, other friends, office people, facebook. Facebook comes last because you do not want your brother hearing about it via his girlfriend’s facebook account. Speaking of facebook, has anyone else noticed how it fills the role that newspapers used to? Does anyone put announcements in the paper anymore?

At E + 48 hours, the news still hadn’t even penetrated all of Layer 1 (parents). Such is the nature of everyone changing countries all the time. We got 3 out of 4 down on skype within 24 hours, but had to wait to tell my Dad because he was travelling, and it’s not news you want him finding out on an email for the 10 minutes at the airport he has internet access.

So Monday morning starts and I can’t keep myself from telling my colleagues, but my poor Dad is oblivious. That night after I let my Dad know, we crossed quite a few more off the list: skype to Granny and to Aunt C, which also necessitated immediate messaging of cousins in UK so that Aunt C could discuss the latest with her daughters.

Meanwhile on the friend front, I emailed my besties (bearing in mind they are in different countries from me and it was not weekend, couldn’t call them boo), considered the option of waiting to tell our local friends in person, but then sent them facebook messages because I COULD NOT HOLD IT IN. But it’s ok, I got to the loo in time. Just kidding, I never made it. Just kidding just kidding…

By the end of the workweek I was bursting to announce it on fb but we still hadn’t crossed off some South African extended family, they in the land of Not Everyone Has Internet. Finally 10 whole days after being engaged, I updated my relationship status.

 2. Aftermath

It’s interesting how varied the reactions are. Some people are all “LET’S DRINK CHAMPAGNE ASAP” and other people are more “Meh”. Once our wider community found out, we got messages from some that went “Wooohoo I’m so happy for you!”, to clicking Like on fb. Or not.

You know what the first question people ask is? How did he propose! And then you know what they ask next? When is the wedding! And then they say, Let me see the ring!!! So I’ve told the story of the island, the beach, and the sunset a bunch of times. And we’re getting used to explaining why there is no ring. I want just a wedding ring, so that I only have to wear one ring forever (I wear other rings, just not the same one everyday). And I want to wait until the wedding before I wear it.

Meanwhile things are feeling maybe just a tad anti-climactic around here. There will be no engagement party – all our people are on other continents. We almost had a very casual get together last weekend with our local circle, but then decided to take a nap instead for a change after the crazy month. And then there’s the whole stalled wedding planning thing.

Still, we continue to be happily in love, and our favourite people continue to be thrilled for us. And if that’s not nice, Mr Vonnegut, I don’t know what is.

Financial priorities: Long term financial health > wedding

One of the reasons I started this blog is becuase I couldn’t find anyone else talking about how they financed their wedding in the larger context of their general financial life. I mean, where did your wedding money come from? Seeing as how, once you crunch the numbers, most people simply cannot afford the type of wedding that is de rigueur, I suspect that it’s becuase their larger financial life is kind of a mess.

Now of course, Anyone Can Afford to Get Married, so long as you can afford the cost of the wedding license. So I’m not saying broke people can’t get married. But for M and I, what with being legally de facto married, getting wed is not just about making it legal. It’s also about making promises to each other, and it’s definitely about celebrating with all our best peeps. And as my mom is want to remind me, it’s a family event. We want people there. And we want to party with them. We want to give them booze. And because it’ll go on for several hours, folks’ll* get hungry, and we will need to feed them. All of which means this is going to take some cash.

So with all of this in mind, yesterday we sat down to some figuring over what kind of wedding budget we’re able to afford. The first principle of budgeting is big rocks first. And the biggest rock is always going to be long term saving. That is non-negotiable. Except in emergency situations, I want to be devoting a minimum of 20%  of our income towards long term goals (things like paying debt, saving for house, and saving for retirement).

The twist in our tale is that a few weeks before we got engaged, I resigned from my job (yep, November has been a big month for me!). We can get by without that income, but it’s not ideal. The rent is a bit more than we strictly should be dealing with, and if we are to stay committed to the long term savings, the amount left over after that and bills will cover only a pretty pared down version of our day to day expenses (read: food). There is ZERO left to put towards a wedding.

The bottom line is, we can’t afford a wedding until I get a new job. And since I don’t know excatly when that will happen, or exactly how much my salary will be, we can’t even predict how much we’ll have to devote towards the wedding. Wedding planning mode: STALLED.

I’m a person kind of obsessed with weddings, so it’s not so cool realising I have to wait longer, especially after waiting so long to get engaged. But I’m even more obsessed with living a happy, stable life with M, in the long term. Long term financial health trumps wedding.

*Some folks’ll never eat a skunk/but then again some folks’ll/like Cletus the slack-jawed yokel – The Simpsons

Wedding planning mode: ON, and What it means to be engaged

My man and I got engaged this weekend. Dude, wtf. You’ve had a wedding blog for months! Yip. And our relationship has been a done deal for even longer. I think these days engagement means something different than it used to.

When my parents got married, they’d been seeing each other for less than a year. They didn’t live together until they were married, and that was pretty darn typical. Marriage was all or nothing.

These days, there’s a continuum. There’s a progression of growing more and more united and more and more committed. I like it this way. It feels more natural, and to me at least, it feels like a safer way to make a major life decision.

M and I have been together for five and a half years. It went like this: We started seeing each other on weekends. We started seeing each other every weekend. We started seeing each other during the week. I started staying at his place so much I basically lived there. We moved in together in a house shared with friends. We moved out into a place for just the two of us. We split the bills 50/50. We split the bills proportional to income. One of us used our savings to pay the other’s student loan. One of us lost their income, the other one paid for everything. After living together for two years, without our doing anything, our legal relationship status became a de facto marriage (that’s how it goes in NZ). Finances were completely merged. He was offered a job in Singapore, and I came with him.

At each step I felt ready, and it felt right to take the next step. I’m grateful that I didn’t have to make the decision to marry him after 18 months, which is the point at which we officially moved in together.

Somewhere along the journey, I decided I would marry him. Wedding talk morphed from hypothetical ‘if I ever get married’ to ‘we could do this and this’ to ‘these are things we will do’. And somewhere along the journey, answers to questions from family and friends about when we will get married went from ‘maybe one day’ to ‘in a few more years’ to ‘when Lindsay finishes her thesis’. Which, see my previous post for the quote about how much fun it is to spend years completing your thesis.

As our wedding ideas started to crystallise more and more, we held back on actually planning it. For instance, we’ve talked about who we will invite, but we haven’t written down a guest list. We know what sort of venue we want, but we haven’t researched specific venues and their prices.

For us, getting engaged this Saturday didn’t mean “We have decided to marry each other” so much as “We have decided to start planning the wedding”. And I think that’s a pretty common outlook these days.

As for why we are getting married at all, when we already have the same legal rights as a married couple and have already chosen the name of our hypothetical daughter, well, that’s a whole other blog post.