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Dave Sather's Money Matters: Surviving the business of weddings

By By Dave Sather
June 19, 2012 at 1:19 a.m.


When I was in college, I met a girl who made me laugh - and she was cute. In time, she made me want to strangle her and she wanted to strangle me, too. As such, we did the only logical thing two young people could do - we got married. That was 19 years ago this week.

Like any marriage, it hasn't always been easy, and twice we have been on the brink of divorce. Fortunately, we finally realized that no one else wanted us - so we gritted our teeth and worked it out.

My good friend Ray opined that he was happy we stayed married, stating that, "It sure would have been a shame if you split up and screwed up two other people's lives."

Thanks Ray.

Marriage is not easy. It takes tremendous patience and a lot of give and take - especially for two stubborn people like us. Carol continues to remind me that I am still a husband in training - and I remind Carol that she has yet to balance her checkbook.

Money is the No. 1 reason couples split up. Money was the agitator for us - and still is.

Knowing this, with wedding season upon us, engaged couples need to realize how important it is to live below their means. This starts with the wedding.

According to TheKnot.com, the average couple will spend more than $27,000 on a wedding this year - not including the honeymoon. If you are unlucky enough to marry in New York, the average cost catapults to more than $65,000.

The greatest business failures in history have occurred from having too much debt. Marriages are no different. Going into debt for a wedding puts a huge burden upon a new marriage.

No matter how pretty a bride's dress may be or how tasty the cake is - it still has to be paid for. Although it may not be too romantic, it is far better to downsize the wedding so that the air conditioner can be repaired in mid-June.

Consider ditching the big wedding and focus on what really matters - quality time with the ones you love. As such, consider re-allocating the money you might spend on an over-the-top wedding to paying off credit cards, a car note or student loans. Or, use it as a down payment on a house.

All weddings need a realistic budget that the couple sticks to. Additionally, if you can't pay cash for it - you don't need it.

Ask friends and family to "sponsor" wedding items - flowers, cake, the music, etc.

A good friend of mine from college got married this past weekend, for the first time at age 46. The wedding was at an outdoor amphitheater with a rental fee of $350 and the music was all original, composed and performed by friends as their gift to the bride and groom. Talk about your priceless gifts.

Don't register for anything you wouldn't buy yourself. Otherwise, you come across as taking advantage of your friends' generosity. I'll never forget one of our friends asking for all sterling silver flatware. Just a fork alone cost $70. They got nothing from me.

Twenty years from now, the crystal and fine china may get used once a year. Otherwise, they are expensive dust collectors. Maybe I am a simpleton, but when our family comes to town, it is paper plates and plastic cups. They don't care about the china - they care about whether or not you love them and are willing to spend quality time with them.

Happy anniversary, Carol. Thanks for hanging in there and being my sparring partner in "competitive bickering."

Dave Sather is a Victoria certified financial planner and owner of Sather Financial Group. His column, Money Matters, publishes every other Wednesday.

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