Don’t go for broke – expert tips on managing your wedding budget

From pre-nups to presents, we asked an expert how to host a wedding that won’t cripple you financially.

EDGAR staff May 18, 2015

It is a day that is simultaneously the happiest and most stressful of your life. It gives you nightmares for months leading up to it and once it arrives it is over before you even realise it has begun. Oh, and it ends up costing you an absolute fortune. What are we talking about? Your wedding day, of course.

But it doesn't have the be that way (the bit about it costing you a fortune, we mean - the stress part comes with the territory); it is possible to pull off an amazing wedding without it crippling your finances.

Impossible, you say? Not so according to Chris Ferguson, a man who not only knows his financials inside out as Director of UAE-based wealth management and advisory firm Credence International, but also knows exactly what it takes to plan a wedding - he is getting married next month!

Here Chris gives us his expert advice on all things wedding finance-related, from how to sort out your savings, to merging assets with your wife-to-be and the tricky subject of a prenuptial agreement. Here's how to throw a kick-ass wedding without it breaking the bank: Wedding finance Dubai UAE What is the best way to save up?

Save a regular income each month from your salary as soon as you get it. Open a separate bank account and ensure that this money is not touched. Budget and add 20 to 25 per cent as a contingency, as 90 per cent of weddings end up costing more than originally planned.

The temptation can be to take out a loan to fund the dream wedding. Is this necessarily a bad idea or is there a way it can work out?

With low interest rates in the world right now, loans are not as bad as they would be in a high-interest-rate environment. If you do not have the cash right now then this is not the worst time to be borrowing it. However, it really depends on whether you have the capacity to pay it back.

I personally like to live within my means and have not considered taking out personal loans for such costs, but if you are eager to tie the knot and have a plan to pay the loan back quickly and with minimum interest - if you feel the interest is worth paying to make the big day happen quicker - I cannot see a problem with a taking a loan.

What about merging assets with your wife-to-be? What should be kept separate and what should be shared?

This is a very personal and subjective question. Whether merging assets or joining monthly finances, I personally feel a couple of points are important.

Firstly, I think it is important that each person in the marriage feels an amount of independence and autonomy, otherwise a marriage could feel claustrophobic and that is likely to cause problems in the long run. Having one’s own money creates freedom and choice. And secondly, in relation to assets, my views are quite traditional - I feel that assets brought into the marriage are now joint. Wedding finance Dubai UAE How feasible is it to get a pre-nup in the UAE? Would you advise for or against getting one?

Getting married is a highly emotional experience and a challenge in the modern world. Applying financial parameters to marriage is very individual. After doing some research about pre-nuptial agreements, I have to conclude that the choice about whether to get one or not will always come down to the individuals involved, as the whole concept is very personal.

There are many factors to consider when thinking of a pre-nuptial agreement. Nationality, religion, domicile, residency and many others are all issues to consider. The main point though is that anyone thinking of putting a pre-nuptial agreement in place should seek legal advice relevant to their personal circumstances. That is the only way to ensure that a deal is fair to both parties.

What are the options for couples in the UAE to start saving together prior to their wedding? The instruments I would recommend for saving up funds really does depend on the urgency with which a couple is trying to save up. There are a wide variety of savings accounts available for couples to open and gain some growth on their money prior to the big day. It is quite easy to find these by using comparison sites. If looking for a full financial review, this short-term planning could be integrated into the plan.

What are your essential dos and do nots of wedding finances?

Although your wedding is only supposed to happen once and be remembered forever, do not borrow money that you cannot afford to pay back within a reasonable time period and with a reasonable interest rate. Borrowing money at rates above 8 per cent is a bad idea, and financing your wedding on credit cards is an absolute NO.

Definitely set a budget and plan this effectively rather than adding stress to an already stressful affair. Enjoy it and make it about you, not everyone else.