For richer or poorer

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By Fergal O’Leary, Director of Communications and Consumer Help, CCPC

Weddings are expensive and can cause many Irish couples to worry about how they will meet the costs. To help you avoid going over-budget and ending up with debt, the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission’s website www.consumerhelp.ie has timely advice for anyone who got engaged over Christmas and the New Year.

Make a wedding budget

Check out the wedding budget planner on the Competition and Consumer Protection’s consumer website www.consumerhelp.com/wedding-budget. This handy online tool allows you to work out your spending in an easy, clear way. It will help you calculate all costs, big and small. Most importantly it will help you to prioritise your spending, helping you decide what is really important for you on the big day and what can be pared back.

Review your spending

It is important to get a clear picture of your finances. You can do this by working out how much money you both have coming in – earnings, social welfare benefits and any additional income you receive, and the money going out – mortgage/rent, bills and everyday expenses such as food and travel. If you have outstanding debts such as loans or credit card bills, concentrate on clearing them first, starting with the most expensive ones. Working all of this out before you start to save will give you a good insight into what money you have available to spend, areas where you may be able to reduce your spending so you can see how much you can afford to set aside each month.

Start saving

From expensive mortgages, childcare, school and college fees – your longer term expenses as a couple really add up. To avoid starting married life on a bad financial footing consider opening a savings account dedicated to your wedding costs. At www.consumerhelp.ie you will find a savings comparison tool that helps you compare the interest rates on savings accounts from the main providers.

Struggling to meet the cost

If you are struggling to stay within your budget and feel that you need to borrow, check to see how much it will cost you and how long it will take you to repay the loan. You can do this by using the loan calculator on www.consumerhelp.ie. There is also a personal loan cost comparison on the website which allows you to compare the latest interest rates charged by the main providers.

If you have to borrow to help pay for your wedding, borrow as little as possible and don’t be tempted to spread the payments too far into the future. This will cost you more in interest and could affect your future plans. You may also be able to borrow from your credit union if you have an existing account with them.

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Be flexible

Although it is a very special day, try and stay flexible in your plans – it could save you money. Consider getting married off-peak; the month and the day you choose to marry on could save you thousands of euros. In terms of venues, be open to alternative venues and think about the experience you can create. Maybe you could ask for help; cake making and decoration, calligraphy, photography and music may be hobbies your friends have. Join online discussion forums and read up on wedding blogs to find out about others’ experiences with suppliers and ways you can cut costs.

Pay by credit/debit cards

Paying by credit/debit card instead of cash offers you some protection if things don’t go as planned. For instance, you may be able to request a chargeback if something goes wrong, such as the bridal shop closing down. A chargeback is when your card provider agrees to reverse the transaction. Avoid signing a contract with a venue until you are sure what is and isn’t included in the price being quoted.

Keep all the paperwork

Quotes, contracts and receipts relating to the wedding should be kept safe in case of any issues with a supplier. By keeping all the paperwork together you can also check if you are staying within your wedding budget.

What about insurance?

Taking out wedding insurance offers you more security if something does go wrong – such as cancellation or failure of traders to deliver a service. Many insurance providers offer wedding insurance so make sure you know what the policy covers and compare premiums before you buy.

Travel insurance for your honeymoon can cover you against any losses such as illness or injury, damaged or delayed luggage, cancelled flights, delayed or missed departures and loss or theft of money or passport. Shop around for the best value and always check the policy details before you buy.

To get more tips and advice on managing your money for life’s big events, check out the Competition and Consumer Protection’s website www.consumerhelp.ie

Catherine Devane