With summer in full swing, it means the wedding season is fast approaching – and most couples will already have started planning the Big Day…

It is an exciting time with much to arrange and decide. Lobola, outfits, hair, transport, venues, food, décor and gifts are just some of the items that need to be sorted and budgeted for.

To make sure the sense of joy lasts much longer than the sound of the wedding bells, it is vital to think carefully, plan properly and make wise decisions.

John Manyike, who is Head of Financial Education at Old Mutual says: “Nobody wants to be completely broke after their honeymoon, so make sure you don’t get into debt or spend all your savings on the wedding celebrations.”

This is of course easier said than done. The reality is that weddings generate much excitement among all ethnic groups, religions and age categories, and it’s natural to get a little carried away by the flurry of celebratory traditions and ceremonies.

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For those black middle-class couples who prefer a hybrid of the traditional and western wedding, it could mean double costs for the wedding celebrations from the engagement to umembeso.

Manyike’s 6 useful tips for those planning to tie the knot: 

1.   Avoid the debt trap

Save ahead of time to reduce the financial burden, and get married at a later date, if necessary. “If you take out a loan to pay for lobola, for instance, you will start off your married life carrying debt, which is not advisable. Ideally, marry when you can afford it. There are many savings and investment vehicles suited to long-term goals. Speak to a financial adviser or banker to help you draw up a financial plan and save towards your goals.

2.   Stay in touch with reality

Keeping it real and setting yourselves realistic goals will help you in the planning process and ensure you both manage your wedding expectations responsibly.

3.   Budget. Budget. Budget

Ensure your goals for your wedding celebrations are aligned with your budget. If your goal is to invite 100 people, then make sure you have the budget to cater for them or cut the number. Remember to allow for unforeseen expenses. With all the ululation and excitement come expenses that can be difficult to avoid or control, unless you have a strict budget that you stick to.

4.   Do some research

To stretch your budget, always shop around for the best prices for goods and services, and make sure you check your suppliers’ references and track records.

Knowing each other’s credit history will also give you some insight into each other’s financial behaviour. Be honest with each other from the onset

5.   Have the tough conversations

Before you begin your life together, it is crucial to know each other’s credit profiles, particularly if you are planning to be married in community of property. It may save you a lot of pain down the line.

Knowing each other’s credit history will also give you some insight into each other’s financial behaviour. Be honest with each other from the onset.

Openly discuss your debts, spending habits and ongoing financial responsibilities such as maintenance for children outside the marriage and financial assistance for parents.

Failing to disclose responsibilities and debts can erode trust and damage your relationship, so rather play open cards with each other.

6.   Form a financial partnership

Discuss and agree on the financial role each one will play to ensure that you stay within your financial means. Will you open a joint account for household finances? Will you keep separate accounts and divide accounts? Remember the couple that plans together, stays together.