You’re Married! What’s next (after the honeymoon, of course!)?

It’s time to do some serious planning!

Image result for financial planningI am NOT talking about “Just Married? Your Post wedding To-Dos,” nor about “10 Things You Need to Do After Your Wedding Is Over.” Not that these things are not important. And there’s great advice in “Tackle Those Post-Wedding Tasks,” and in “POST-WEDDING CHECKLIST.” So I don’t mean to trivialize any of these “urgent” post-wedding tasks. But I do want to talk a little about the important, rather than the urgent, issues in this post.

Are you planning to have children? Or do you already have children? Do you already own a home? If no, would you like to own a home sometime in the future? Do you have life insurance to protect your new spouse? Is it the right type and amount? Is the beneficiary designation up-to-date? Do you have a retirement plan? Will it be adequate for your future needs? Have you set up a budget for your everyday living expenses? And for saving for down payments, a new home purchase, your retirement plans or your other needs, wants and desires?

These are the kinds of things that you would have been best advised to discuss before deciding to make a lifelong commitment to each other. But few couples spend any time on these critical issues while they concentrate on the wedding details. And many have limited their choices by over-spending on the wedding and reception. Others make conscious — or unconscious — decisions to put these discussions and planning necessities off “for now.”

There’s always tomorrow, right? Perhaps you are “immortal.” You just know that nothing will happen to disable or kill you. What, after all, can happen to you? Bad things always happen to other people! You’ll worry about this sometime in the future, right? Many of you will spend more time planning your annual vacations than you spend on planning for your futures!

Before I became a wedding officiant I spent many years in the insurance and financial services businesses. I left those businesses because I became frustrated with the unwillingness of my potential clients to realistically address the questions I have posed above. But that doesn’t mean that I have stopped caring!

Do you plan to buy a house? Then get with someone like my friend Kim Blanquie who can help you figure out what you’ll need to do to qualify for buying your first home — or a subsequent one. What about your insurance — auto, home, life, business? If you’ve got these policies spread out amongst several companies you are likely spending too much. And are your liability limits adequate to cover you in the case of an accident or incident where you are deemed to be at fault? Do you have an umbrella policy, especially if you have teenaged drivers? These are serious issues. It could cost you your assets or 25% of your income for the next 20 years if you are not properly covered!

Are you planning to save for the kids’ college education before you save for you own retirement? Give that a second thought! You — or you children — can always borrow for college. But you can’t borrow in retirement when you have no means to repay what you want to borrow. Save for yourself and your spouse first! Do you have trouble understanding these issues and trade-offs? Consult with someone who can help you understand the issues, trade-offs, and alternatives. Someone you trust to really help you and not just try to sell you plans, investments, and policies.

I hope this post is not a “Debbie Downer” post for you. But I felt it my duty to at least bring up some of these issues. I do care about you, people, client or not. And I’d love to have your comments and feedback. So don’t be shy! Thanks for reading.

How to Avoid Becoming a “Bridezilla”!

You CAN be in Control Without Going Crazy!

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Did you ever watch this old reality show? It was on We TV from June 1st, 2004 until October 11, 2013 — an incredibly long run for a low budget reality show. The billing description reads: “Godzilla has nothing on a bride-to-be planning her dream wedding, as evidenced by the aptly named “Bridezillas.” The docu-series follows women who were perfectly normal before wedding planning took over her life. Grimly determined to realize their “dream wedding” at all costs, these out-of-control brides make the time leading up to their day of days an utter nightmare for everyone around them. In the end, they hope all the stress and meltdowns are worth it and they have the perfect wedding they’ve been dreaming of since they were little.” 

Like most reality shows, this one found the absolutely worst examples of brides who represent only a tiny portion of the brides who marry each year. And, like most reality shows, it tried to make its audience think that all brides exhibited the characteristics of its “stars.”

My experience with brides is that most are very reasonable, very smart women who want their ceremony to be as close to the wedding day they’ve dreamed of during their childhood and that they want everyone — the wedding party, the parents and the guests, to have the best experience possible. So what goes wrong?

I’ve spent many years in the business consulting world and have always told my clients that a failure to plan is akin to planning to fail. And my recent experiences as a wedding officiant have led me to believe that what has been true in the business world is equally true in the wedding world!

I think that what may turn a perfectly reasonable bride-to-be into a “bridezilla” is simple panic. “Oh, my God! The wedding is only (insert number of months, weeks or sometimes even only days here) away and we still haven’t booked (insert venue, caterer, DJ/musician, cake maker, hair and makeup specialist, officiant, etc.). HELP!

If you are a bride-to-be, the best thing you can do to avoid becoming a “bridezilla” is to begin the wedding planning process as early as possible after your fiance has “popped the question” and you  have said “Yes!”. In a previous blog post, I provide some guidance about engagement length versus wedding date selections and I do recommend that you take a few minutes to read it. Beyond that, here are some hints to help you stay calm, collected and in control so that you can have the best wedding day experience possible.

  • As mentioned above, start the planning process early!
  • Set out a timeline of things that must be done and people/organizations that must be hired.
  • Consult wedding related websites and blogs for lists of things you may want to consider so you don’t forget anything.
  • Delegate what you can to your fiance, your family, and your friends if they are willing to become involved to that level.
  • Keep a current list of the things that need doing and their status so that you don’t have to think about them constantly.
  • Don’t procrastinate! You’ll go nuts!

Also remember Murphy’s First Law: Whatever Can Go Wrong Will Go Wrong! But you know what? Your world will not come to an end if there is a glitch or two. This is normal. The hair and makeup artist will be late. Or you’ll be late because you stayed up too late worrying about the things you might have missed or that you might be late! See the list above to avoid those pitfalls. If you start the planning process early, make your hiring decisions on a timely basis and — very important — don’t “second guess” yourself — or make last minute changes that could have a negative impact on all of the other things or the overall schedule.

Sequence of Research - WeddingWire - 08-15-2016As an ordained minister who serves as a professional wedding officiant, I’m usually one of the last people to be hired (see chart at left courtesy of WeddingWire.com). But I can provide you with an up-front consultation to let you know that the vows, ceremony elements and any special features (e.g., unity candle or sand ceremony, remembrances, guest comments, special songs, etc.) will be handled exactly as you want them to be. Venues are obviously first priority. And good photographers need early booking as well. You can see the other major elements in the chart, but these are only a small portion of the things, people and organizations that you may want to consider for your special day.

Don’t try to do it all by yourself! You have a spouse-to-be who should take on a full share of the planning tasks. And actually planning the wedding together can be a great test of whether or not  you’ll be able to “work together, share together and support each other, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, …”

Thanks for reading this post. I’d love to have your feedback on it and please do feel free to share it on your social media channels with everyone you feel might find it interesting. And if you are in the Portland/Vancouver area and need an officiant for an upcoming wedding, please do keep me in mind. I’d love to marry you!