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Planning Your Wedding While Planning for the Future

just married Your wedding day should be special, with family and friends gathered to help you celebrate, the ceremony reflecting your love and the reception providing a perfect finale.

The last thing you want to be thinking as you walk down the aisle, or as you and your new spouse dance the first dance at the reception is "how will we pay for this?" The time to answer that question is well before the big day.

Setting a budget for your wedding from the very beginning will make it easier to plan an event that is within your means. Because getting married is such an exciting time in your life, without a budget in mind, it is easy to overspend.

Is the perfect wedding dress $1,000 more than you thought it would be? Without a budget, you could convince yourself that you deserve to spend that extra cash instead of continuing the search for a more affordable yet lovely dress.

The last thing you want to be thinking as you walk down the aisle is "how will we pay for this?

Likewise, without a budget, you might give in to your new in-laws' request to invite distant relatives and their children to the reception. Instead, you can simply say, "I'd love to, but our budget limits us to a small guest list."

To establish a budget, first figure out who is paying for what. Will either set of parents be pitching in, or will you and your future spouse be paying for the entire wedding? Then, come up with a dollar amount that is realistic based on everyone's contributions. On average, U.S. couples will spend $26,800 for their wedding - and that does not include the cost of the honeymoon, engagement ring, bridal consultant or wedding planner. The reception is the single largest expense.

Of course, there are many ways to trim costs; you just have to decide where you are willing to compromise. Can your mother help with the planning so you don't have to pay a wedding planner? Is it really necessary to have an open bar at the reception? Do you really need a limo to drive you to the ceremony or can you get your rich uncle to drive you in his Mercedes?

"If you decide that you won't have enough money to pay for the wedding in cash, or that your honeymoon must include a trip to Paris, you may have to get a loan or use your credit cards.

As long as you have a plan for paying off these large expenses, that's O.K.," says Maxine Sweet, vice president of public education for Experian, a global information solutions company. If you do decide to use credit, she suggests checking your credit report beforehand to make sure that you'll qualify for the credit when you need it.

If you and your spouse are paying for the wedding yourselves, another good incentive to stay on budget is the fact that you'll have other expenses once you're married.

You may want to buy a house in the near future, or perhaps one of your cars is on its last legs.

"You don't want to have a lot of debt from a wedding if you plan on making a big purchase in the near future," says Sweet. "Lenders review your credit report and credit score as part of the lending process and if they see that you are in debt close to your credit limit, they may not extend you the funds needed for a new car or home."

Of course, planning your wedding and your future together isn't all about dollars and cents, but getting these matters out in the open can make for smoother sailing as you start your lives together.

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For more information on checking your credit report, visit

Courtesy of ARA Content

More about wedding finances around the Web:

Newlyweds — What Do We Need to Know About Money?

Money Tips For Newlyweds

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