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Paying for Your Wedding: Cash vs. Credit

Posted by Angel Babbitt Harris July 25, 2013 04:31 PM

If you are part of the 42% of couples living in the Northeast who are financing their wedding themselves (like the Mister and me), I have one question for you: Cash or credit?

Staying in Your Financial Lane

"The way my bank account is set up, I got a checking and a savings, but all my money is in my savings so I gotta switch it to my checking..." - Comedian Kevin Hart

Most people like paying for things with cash. Cash is an easy concept. You either have it or you don't. With proper planning you can save it. The biggest advantage is that you are limited to what you can afford which helps you remain grounded and practical throughout the wedding planning process. After the wedding you can walk away debt-free. These are all compelling reasons to stick with cash when paying for your wedding expenses.

The Ease of Using a Credit Card

Using a credit card can also be an enticing option. Some may argue that the rewards and points you receive can go toward booking a honeymoon and/or offer great incentives. Others may find it easier to track wedding expenses when using one credit card. In some cases using a credit card just makes sense. What happens if your venue goes out of business before your wedding day? Putting a deposit on your credit card can offer you protection in the event of unexpected circumstances.

Throughout the wedding planning process I've been a fan of the 'Getting Married' podcasts hosted by MarketWatch's Kelli Grant and Wall Street Journal's Matthew Passy. These quick, witty podcasts offer helpful tips for all engaged couples.

Listen here for a recent podcast on the cash vs. credit debate.

Engaged couples: How are you paying for your wedding?

Married couples: Be honest. How many of you are STILL paying off debt from your wedding?

His parents, her parents, your parents: When should a couple's parents meet?

Posted by Angel Babbitt Harris May 30, 2013 07:58 AM

So, when should an engaged couple's parents meet? Would it be too late to make the introduction at the wedding? Is it rare for parents to not meet before the wedding?

These questions came up during a recent conversation over a slab of ribs at a Memorial Day cookout I attended at my FMIL's (future mother-in-law) house. The ribs were amazing. The barrage of questions from the FMIL inquiring why she hasn't met my mother yet -- not so much. I was slightly stressed out by it all!

Needless to say, the FMIL is anxious to meet my mother. The introduction hasn't happened yet. It's not because I don't want it to. It just hasn't happened. Yet.

My mother works all the time. His mother is retired. The last get together we attempted to arrange was at our catering tasting a few months ago. My mother picked up an extra shift at work so the meeting never happened. And with four months to go, the Mister and I realize that we have to try harder to set up this parental meet and greet to avoid any uncomfortable feelings on our wedding day.

For the record, we've met each other's families. They've just never been in the same room together. Family is important to both of us. It's one of the main reasons why we are having this wedding. We want our families to celebrate this special time with us. If not for our families, we would have eloped a long time ago! I personally don't think it would be the worst thing in the world if our mothers met on the wedding day., help me out with this one. When did you introduce your parents to the future in-laws? Any other married couples out there wait until the wedding day?

A scene from one of my favorite wedding movies, Jumping the Broom, when the mothers meet for the first time.

Can you afford to attend all the weddings you're invited to this year?

Posted by Angel Babbitt Harris May 19, 2013 04:30 PM

After receiving a few semi-aggressive inbox messages from a friend of a family member inquiring about whether or not she is invited to our wedding, we recently had to let her know that she will not be receiving an invitation. At first, I felt terrible for not being able to invite her. Then I read up on the latest statistics on how much wedding guests spend on each wedding they attend and I felt alot better about our decision.

She should thank us. We saved her wallet!

Earlier this month, American Express released a survey stating that wedding guests can expect to spend an average of $539 for each wedding they attend in 2013. That's a hefty increase of $200 from last year. A huge portion of this amount goes towards travel expenses, a new outfit and accessories for those aiming to be the most fashionable guest in the building, and the purchase of a wedding gift.

Spending that type of cash per wedding adds up, but it's a consequence of having friends at the average marrying age who are, well, getting married all in the same year!

These figures surprised me. I've been so consumed with making sure that the Mister and I stay within a healthy budget that it never occurred to me that our invited guests share similar challenges.

My curiosity led me to poll my Facebook friends to find out how many weddings they were attending this year. The highest count came in at four. I thought that was an excessive amount until I read about this guy. If Jeremy Wallace were an actual real person, he would get a "Friend of the Year" award. The fictitious story alleges that he has spent every weekend for the past three years attending weddings! Whoa. What about this guy? Poor Christopher Sledzik. CNN reported that he spent over $10K during a whirlwind wedding season in 2012. Yikes!

Chime in, readers. Are you on course to beat Jeremy Wallace's record? Or are you racking up debt like Christopher Sledzik trying to keep up with the wedding goer Joneses? How many weddings do you have lined up this season?

More young couples say mortgage first, marriage later

Posted by Angel Babbitt Harris May 1, 2013 02:34 PM

Beyonce said it best when she sang, "if you liked it than you should have put a ring on it."

However, a recent survey by Coldwell Banker Real Estate reveals that the game has changed. In fact, 1 in 4 married millennials (ages 18-34) purchased their homes before purchasing an engagement ring. For some young couples, buying a home together has become "the new engagement ring," says Robi Ludwig, Coldwell Banker's "lifestyle correspondent" and psychotherapist who assisted with the study.

The tune has changed. Now it sounds more like, "if you like it then you better put a back yard, porch, granite countertops, and finished basement on it."

As with getting married, purchasing a home is a major life event. The happily ever after that we all strive for comes with alot of hard work. Prepare to have honest conversations about finances with your partner before deciding to purchase a home together. For some, that may include admitting to the secret bank account you use for the occasional Nordstrom Rack shopping spree or sharing the details of your debt with the person you're about to spend the rest of your life with.

Another good practice is to set realistic priorities. If it's an uber-chic wedding that you both desire, have it. If it's an ultra-modern, yummy new home, go for it. Keep your eyes on the end result together and it will strengthen your bond.

The Mister and I are getting married first. Our goal is to own a home together before our second wedding anniversary. I've been a lifelong renter. He owns a condo that we both live in now. Life is good and it's about to get a whole lot better! readers, what do you think? Did you purchase your home before getting married or did you wait until after the wedding?

Black Couple Moving into New Home.jpg

Photo Credit: iStock Photo

Will my feminist friends hate me if I change my last name after the wedding?

Posted by Angel Babbitt Harris April 10, 2013 07:28 PM

Okay. Perhaps hate is a strong word. Let me explain.

I recently read "Why Should Married Women Change Their Names? Let Men Change Theirs" penned by Guardian columnist Jill Filipovic. The article left me feeling a tinge of hateration toward my choice to add the Mister's name to my own after we get married. It led me to wonder how my feminist crusader-type friends would react to my choice. Through research on the topic, I discovered that everyone from feminists to traditionalists, conservatives to liberals, and average Joes to average Janes have an opinion on the matter!

Let's begin with Filipovic's point of view. In her article, she states that our names are part of our identity and to change them is to give up the most "basic marker" of who we are. She goes on to explain that she understands why women do it given the social judgement of a sexist culture we work so hard to lean in to every day of our existence as womankind.

Then the article took an interesting turn. After stating that she gets it, she proceeds to criticize women who change their last names by saying the reasons we give are not good enough, they make no sense. The always popular response of "We want our family to share a name" or "His last name sounds better" are just excuses.

The article closes with a push to challenge men to change their last names. Hmph. I guess if Jay-Z did it, every man should.

I struggled with accepting Filipovic's article as the gospel and decided to poll my Facebook friends, coworkers, and even people I sat next to on the train. Surprisingly, most people agree with Filipovic. Many women in my circle kept their names or are choosing to keep them after marriage, with some doing the hypenation thing, and a nearly extinct few dropping their names completely.

Eeek! I may be outnumbered on this one.

My reason for deciding to add his name is simple: it's MY choice. How's that for a feminist stance? I don't subscribe to the notion that changing my last name means that my identity is gone forever. The addition of his name does not result in the subtraction of who I am as a person. I'll still be me., what do YOU think?

Women: Did you or do you plan to change your last name once married?
Why or why not?

Men: Did you or would you pull a Jay-Z and take on your wife's last name? Why or why not?

Same sex couples: Where do you stand on the issue?

Living the vows: In sickness and health

Posted by Angel Babbitt Harris March 25, 2013 06:51 AM

Last week I had a health scare. A not-so-friendly reminder that I am only one person who can only do one thing at a time. A wake-up call that my fiance' is not marrying Wonder Woman, but a woman who does constantly wonder how married life will be after all the hoopla of this wedding planning is behind us.

The answer to that question came in the form of a trip to the ER.

I wouldn't quite recommend this as a date night option, but sitting in the emergency room with your fiance' all day has a way of bringing you closer together. During my sick episode, the Mister was a rock star. He showed me the man I'm engaged to marry and spend the rest of my life with. I got a glimpse of what our lives will be like forty years from now when we are old and gray.

Love is truly patient. Love is indeed kind.

As a friend who sent a text message last week to check up on me put it, "I see you gave him a test drive in living the sickness and health." I guess I did. He passed the test with flying colors, and with 201 days to go, I can't wait to say...

"I, Expertly Engaged, take you, Mister, to be my husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and health, until death do us part. I will honor you all the days of my life..."

Engaged couples: what has been your 'living the vows' moment during wedding planning?

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