You know a lot can happen in ten years! Trust me, I would know… And as I edge closer to my 30th lap around the sun I wanted to pass on a little wisdom on married life and weddings that I’ve gained in those last ten crazy years.
A husband, a house, two children and many stamps on the passport pages later. If I could write a letter to my twenty-year-old self about love and marriage, I’d want her to read this!
Don’t be in a rush
As Elvis would say, ‘wise men say only fools rush in’. And I gotta say, I think he was right.
Jezz and I met young. I was just 15. If you’d have told me we’d have been together some 13 years later I’d have burst into laughter.
As we entered our twenties everyone around us began coupling up too. Before we knew it we were seeing engagement announcements on Facebook and getting wedding invitations in the mail. I even found myself scratching my head as what to buy for baby shower gifts.
Everyone seemed to be overlapping us. I felt this pressure to hurry up, as we’d been together longer than most of these people!
But the reality was, we weren’t really in a healthy financial place to get married. We were renting, studying and were just starting a business. Just because everyone else was doing these things, didn’t mean it needed to reflect our own timeline. I wish I had realised that back then.
Admittedly, I think we did rush to get engaged. In hindsight, we really didn’t know the costs and reality of throwing an engagement party. Let alone figuring out our wedding budget. Hence, we ended up getting married as a surprise at our engagement!
Do what you want (or don’t want to do)
We attended a string of lavish engagements and weddings. On one occasion we were told several times the cost of the table centrepieces. I couldn’t help but keep comparing it to the cost of an overseas holiday. I found myself feeling completely perplexed by the huge wedding checklist.
Being older and wiser, I look back now and just want to hug that poor young girl. She truly felt she needed to ‘Keep up with the Jones’.
While planning, I found myself adding up costs that weren’t even a reflection of the wedding we wanted. What I really needed to do was work out what we could afford and what timeline we were comfortable with.
Not try and plan the wedding I thought everyone else wanted that really, I could not afford.
Looking back, I absolutely do not regret how we did things. Mostly because it didn’t leave us with a huge debt!
But, if I had my time again, I would have just planned and saved for the wedding cost of our dream wedding – whether that was a one, five or ten-year wait!
I wish I had done more research and planned a wedding budget with all this in mind.
Work out what’s actually important to you
After all of this, I think my husband and I realised that we needed to focus on what we really cared about and stuff the whole ‘Keeping up with the Jones’ mentality. We didn’t NEED to get married right then.
Jez and I had been looking to get into our first home and were in the process of buying land and building a brand-new house. We decided after everything that it was more important to just get into the market and our first home didn’t need to be big and lavish.
So, we scrapped our plans and ended up purchasing an older home to renovate. It meant we were not overextending ourselves. We had a place to call home but could also still afford a lifestyle we wanted as a young couple.
We knew we wanted kids and that once our circumstances changed, a loan we might have been able to sustain then was not going to be likely once we moved to one income.
It’s never too early to get ahead
When I sit down and think about all the money wasted as a young adult I actually cringe. Where did it actually all go?
For so many years my husband and I were together we never really talked about money. We lived week to week and didn’t really have any financial goals be it individually or as a couple.
One thing I would advise any couple to do is to have these conversations, no matter how awkward they are. It’s important that this topic comes up and you speak about your finances whether it’s opening your first joint bank account or your goal to save for expensive engagement rings.
Even if you need to seek professional guidance, it’s well worth it. Planning for both desirable and undesirable outcomes.
I know in your teens and early twenties it is hard to see the big picture, but every little bit helps when you’ve got some major life milestones ahead.
Write a Bucket List
This is something we absolutely forgot to do when we were young, though I always thought it was for old people going through a mid-life crisis or the terminally ill.
But one of the biggest pieces of advice I’d give any young person, or married couple is to sit down and set goals as a couple.
Without these goals, I think it’s hard to keep on track. If you know what your top bucket list items are, you can work together to achieve them.