WEDDINGS cause spiralling debt for couples, so it’s wise to be wary and cut back on costs when you can. Freepik
With the cost of South African weddings averaging about R80 000, it is important for couples to stay objective, consult a financial adviser and be realistic about what they can afford, says Lee Hancox, the head of channel and segment marketing at Sanlam.

Hancox says it is important for you to save some money from as early as possible for your nuptials.

“It goes back to the culture of saving from a young age and making sure you have enough money put away so that when you do meet the right person, whether it is at 20 or at 35, you have savings available, because, especially in South Africa, we are a nation of non-savers. We spend more than we earn,” says Hancox.

She says taking out a loan will make the situation worse, because the high interest rates will result in you paying back more than double the amount you borrowed.

Hancox says it takes about five or six years to pay off a loan. Considering that some marriages don't last that long, you will be stuck with paying off a loan while going through a divorce.

Hancox says that as a wedding can cost about R70 000 to R80 000 on average, it is advisable to get savvy with money and start to save as early as possible.

“Globally, weddings cause spiralling debt for couples, so it’s wise to be wary and cut back on costs when you can. Remember that a wedding lasts one day; a marriage should last a lifetime,” says Hancox.

Hancox’s top tips for saving on wedding costs include:

* If you know you want to get married one day, start saving as soon as possible. Consider a flexible unit trust fund with good returns, or a suitable savings vehicle you’ve discussed with your financial adviser.

* Use your savings, don’t go into debt. From a behavioural economics perspective, it’s a strange phenomenon that it feels easier to spend “borrowed” money from the bank than funds you've saved.

* Consider your priorities. Big wedding now or a deposit on a house? If you're about to set up a home together, you might want to set what could have been wedding money aside for practical things, such as a washing machine.

* Use your resources - aka friends and family. If you know a seamstress, ask her for help with the bridesmaids’ dresses. If your aunt’s a baker, ask her to gift you a cake.

* If other people (for example, your parents) are contributing towards your wedding, have an honest conversation with them about what would be an appropriate amount for them to contribute.

* Chat to your financial planner as a couple so you come up with a viable budget and savings plan.

* Go to wedding expos and get lots of quotes before deciding on a supplier. Read the fine print for hidden costs, such as a cake cutting fee.

* If you have a long engagement, understand the effect of inflation on supplier pricing. It’s going to go up - have you budgeted this increase?

* If friends have recently had a wedding, ask for their spreadsheets as a starting point. That way, you can get a feel for what some of the costs are likely to be.

* Put an antenuptial agreement in place. Understand what works for you both in terms of getting married in or out of community of property or an antenuptial agreement with or without accrual. You need a lawyer for this. Remember to ask about tax breaks for estate planning.

* Travel costs for service suppliers often add up, so it can be good to pick people close to your wedding venue.

* Be smart. Consider using the same flowers in the ceremony venue and at the reception, for example.

PERSONAL FINANCE