There is something about weddings that makes life seem exquisitely beautiful. Its not just that love is in the air but it’s also about the manifestation of that love. The beautiful clothes, venues, dreams all hoping to turn to reality. A wedding is so many things, yet, its greatest worth comes in a way you don’t see, until you have been married for a few years. Because, weddings have all the ingredients of a good learning environment – there is stress, there is certain uncertainty, the stakes are high, and the subject matter is usually new. One of the greatest of those subjects to be learned is how each participant deals with the elephant in every room – money.
There is a scene in the popular American sitcom FRIENDS where Ross is getting married and cannot understand why his fiancé is so upset with something to do with the venue. Monica tells him the biggest truism when it comes to weddings - that men think about it after they decide to get married. Women on the other hand, have been planning for this day their entire coherent lives usually. Now that, is a huge priority mismatch; yet, it’s one among many such differences.
Very few aspects of marriage are as tangible and yet as complicated as money. Perhaps that is why it’s the easiest thing to argue about. Money, I always remind everyone, is but a means to an end. However, it gets complicated because, usually, the knowledge, nature and extent of money is not the same and neither are expense priorities and outlooks.
As women, we are often conditioned to have a relatively hand-off approach to money. By this I mean that while we earn and we save, we often don’t get attached. We are attached to money for the means that they are – not for the sake of it being money. This stems from not factoring the means into our dreams. We often presume someone will be able to be there to take care of it. And when life throws nasty surprises, that’s when we wake up and then work our wonders.
But is there another way? A way to perhaps not wait for disaster to strike for us to wake up? I am not talking about prenuptial agreements etc. I’m simply saying that a wedding is a great time to think about the marriage. Let’s take a step back actually, it’s a great time to differentiate between a wedding and a marriage. A wedding is a start of a journey. It’s a single event to celebrate a decision to begin a marriage. Once that distinction becomes clear, it can be stretched to a lot of large immediate expenses we want to make that deplete our resources for future use.
Now, in no way am I saying that memories and celebrations are not important. They are the things that make life beautiful. What I am saying, is that there are things to be prudent about, there are things to be splurged on and there are things to be ignored altogether.
But to make any such distinction, I would say something I said before – “Let’s Start the Conversation”. Think about your life and your money. Think about where you are and where you want to go. Think about how you plan to get there. Get your partner to do the same. Then discuss it and reassess. Rework life goals and priorities if you need to. Accommodate lifestyle choices and hidden desires and complexities. Factor in flexibility. Find a way to create that dream marriage for each of you. And it begins with the wedding which should not be a significant stress for any one person, because, that sets the tone for the marriage.