Getting married – whether it's for the first or the thirty-first time – is an exciting and wonderful opportunity to celebrate your relationship and make plans for the future. Although the process is similar at every stage of your life, the priorities and practicalities may be a little different later in life.
Should we get married?
If you’re thinking about getting married – perhaps for even the second or third time – and you’re slightly older than convention suggests, then it’s definitely time to celebrate falling in love. But the truth is, there’s less pressure these days to actually ‘tie the knot’. However, there’s still something deeply meaningful about making solemn declarations whether or not they’re religious in nature – so if you’re contemplating a marriage or a civil partnership, then all we would recommend is that you take a few practical things into consideration along the way:
- Be prepared. Hopefully your family will be as delighted as you are at the good news, but it doesn’t always work out that way. If, for example, the news of your intended marriage comes relatively recently after the passing of your previous partner, then your children may need time to adjust. Talk to them, canvas their opinion, but respect their views whatever you decide to do. That said, this is your future happiness and your plans are important too.
- Planning a wedding. Are you still working? Nearly retired? Already retired and adjusting to a regular income, without huge prospects for accessing large amounts of capital? Unless you have significant funds set aside, you may have to budget carefully for a wedding. Don’t be disheartened though, it’s more than possible to have ‘the perfect’ day – as long as you both focus on what’s really important – getting married to each other. It doesn’t have to be ‘big’ to be a beautiful occasion.
- Living together. The chances are you’ve already spent time together. But as we get older, we do become more set in our ways, so if that’s not the case then take time to adjust. Spend more time in each other’s company and discuss any plans to ‘move house’ in depth. Actually, if you’re bringing two households together, this will be a very good time to review the way your finances are organised – and make the most of them, for the longer term.
- Reviewing your finances with a professional adviser. Even though you may have had advice previously on your long term financial plans for retirement, getting married means adjusting them - either making provisions for your new spouse, or, in some cases, making alterations to provisions for your children or former spouse. You’ll need to think about any benefits you’re receiving, the implications, if any, on your regular income, and – although it may seem trivial at the time – any potential impact on your credit ratings.
Finally, in addition to understanding the impact of a marriage or civil partnership on your lives together now, it is important to think about the years ahead too. Review any wills, trusts or arrangements you’ve made for your assets carefully. Don’t forget to revisit life insurance policies, if you have them in place, and do talk to a solicitor before making decisions that could impact your beneficiaries in particular.
How much will it cost?
Weddings can be as inexpensive or as grand as you’d like them to be. If you don’t have a huge budget, its worth spending some time carefully planning what you do want and can afford, and finding ways of minimising the costs. Here are some suggestions to help you:
- Look at antique jewellery or vintage clothing. You don’t pay VAT and you can often find fantastic quality at a fraction of the original price.
- Pick an unusual day or time of the year when people are less inclined to celebrate their big day – for instance a Monday in January.
- Look for cheaper alternatives – for instance Prosecco or Cava instead of champagne.
- Try a bit of DIY – from making invitations to table plans and even bouquets, there is plenty of advice and guidance online to help make your day special.
How will we jointly manage our finances?
You and your partner may well be managing your finances in the way that best suits you. However, if you haven’t already agreed some principles then it's worth doing it before you walk down the aisle. Once you are married things become a little more complicated if anything does happen to the relationship.
Essentially you have four options open to you:
- keep your finances separate
- keep all your finances jointly
- share some responsibilities but keep some accounts privately
- one of you – usually the main ‘earner’ pays the other an ‘allowance’
What you decide, and how you manage your finances, either before or after you get married will depend on your relationship, the assets and debts you have brought to the relationship and your attitudes to money. What’s important is that you discuss and agree what you want to do before you get married so both of you are clear. This often means some form of compromise, but it’s important to be truthful and fair on how you feel about money before the big day. It’s also worth having the tricky conversation about what happens in the event that one of you dies – and of course making a will.