The BBC has reported how a Yorkshire couple claim they have no debt, despite having paid for a wedding, a house, a motorbike and three holidays.
And no, it doesn’t look like they’re related to Richard Branson or Queen Elizabeth.
The couple are Luke (25), who works as a delivery driver for a dairy farm, and his wife, who is a manager at McDonald’s.
While weddings, overseas trips and a purchase of a home would be a major expense for most people, this couple has proven that, with a bit of thrifty thinking and sacrifices, it is possible to stay out of debt.
It is, however, easy to get carried away when it comes to weddings, particularly if there’s tradition involved or there are certain expectations from the bride, groom, community or the respective families.
Cutting back costs on your wedding doesn’t mean you will be cutting back on the fun too, though.
It’s possible to still have the wedding of your dreams without walking down the “until debt do us part” aisle. Here’s what you should do or consider if you don’t want to start your marriage with debt:
1. Avoid the debt trap
Save ahead of time to reduce the financial burden, and get married at a later date, if necessary.
“If you take out a loan to pay for lobola, for instance, you will start off your married life carrying debt, which is not advisable.
"Ideally, marry when you can afford it. There are many savings and investment vehicles suited to long-term goals,” points out John Manyike, head of financial education at Old Mutual.
2. Don’t get married in the summer
Summer and spring are popular seasons for getting hitched, while winter and autumn are seasons where business slows so owners and managers of wedding venues are more likely to offer a discount.
Also, save money by getting married during the week instead of on a weekend.
Oakfield farm, located in Gauteng, is one venue running a winter promotion where you don’t pay venue hire if you book your wedding in June or July 2018.
“Our pricing is based on which venue the clients choose as well which day of the week they choose to host their wedding on.
"The venue hire fee can range anything from R3 000 to R18 000 which is discounted to the clients account once they book and confirm their wedding date,” explains Jeanre Campher of Oakfield.
3. Stick to your budget
If you stick to your budget you’re unlikely to start married life in debt.
“If your goal is to invite 100 people, then make sure you have the budget to cater for them or cut the number. Remember to allow for unforeseen expenses.
"With all the ululation and excitement come expenses that can be difficult to avoid or control, unless you have a strict budget that you stick to,” says Manyike.
4. Do some research
Always shop around for the best prices for goods and services and make sure you check around your suppliers’ references and track records.
Research providers on directory websites like celebration.co.za, for example.
5. Talk to your partner about money
It’s easy to avoid the topic of your debt obligations or not to ask your partner if they have any outstanding loans or accounts.
You may not want to discuss it for fear of having an argument before the big day, but if you don’t address financial problems now you may have to deal with a worse situation down the line.
Discuss what is important to you both and what decisions could impact your finances now and in the future.
“Many would find it surprising how few couples discuss whether or not they want children – discovering different views on this will have an emotional and financial impact at a later stage. Essentially, it comes down to the values you hold about retirement, education and what constitutes a good, successful life. There are no right or wrong answers – it is simply a case of determining whether or not you are on the same page,” says Jo-Anne Bailey from Franklin Templeton.
6. Don’t buckle to family pressure
Unless your family are helping to pay for the wedding, don’t let them talk you into inviting more people or choosing a venue that you can’t afford.
“When couples buckle under this pressure and overspend, it can saddle them with debt at a time of their lives when they should be working on building their life together.
"Consult a third party who will bring some perspective to the emotion of planning a wedding,” concludes Bailey.
HOW TO SAVE MONEY AS A WEDDING GUEST
Weddings are not just expensive for the happy couple and their respective parents.
They can be expensive for the guests too, particularly if they have to travel a far distance to get to the wedding and feel obligated to give the couple a gift.
If you are set to attend a wedding but have a tight budget, here are ways you can save:
1. Save on accommodation: Check with the wedding party to find out if they have negotiated with any providers of accommodation in the area of the wedding venue.
Guest houses, B&Bs, hotels and self-catering providers have been known to offer a discount if they know they’re set to get a lot of business.
2. Get cash back on your spending: If you are going to buy an expensive gift make sure you get some rewards for it through the likes of FNB’s eBucks, Absa Rewards or Pick n Pay’s Smart Shopper.
Alternatively, check to see if you already have enough points to buy the gift. This means you can buy a gift without spending any more money.
3. Travel for less: If the wedding is far away, find out if your rewards scheme’s partners offer travel discounts.
For instance, if you are a Discovery Vitality member you can get up to 35% off on local and international flights with British Airways, kulula.com, Emirates and Qantas.
4. Split the gift: Consider splitting the price of a gift with a fellow guest. It means you can still get something memorable and impressive, but without breaking the bank.
5. Something borrowed: The bride is not the only one that will be allowed to borrow. If you don’t have an outfit for the wedding, don’t buy something new.
Find out from a friend or family member if you can borrow a smart item of clothing for the occasion.