Suppose you’ve just shared your engagement announcement on social media. In that case, you’re probably already thinking about what color your flower arrangements will be and what song you’ll dance to as husband and wife. While those things are great (we love wedding planning), there are a few other considerations to add to your list. These details may not be as fun as picking out a dress or DJ, but they’re arguably still pretty significant.
Thinking about finances, life plans, family dynamics, and how these things may benefit from a prenup is essential to wedding planning. Having these meaningful conversations now may help start your life of wedded bliss off on the right foot, creating a solid foundation that will benefit you for the rest of your lives!
So before you put down the down payment on the venue, sit down with your significant other and consider these five factors.
Five Things To Address Before Getting Married
Before you say “I do,” it’s time to ask, “how do you feel about….”
1. A Prenuptial Agreement
First, getting a prenup doesn’t mean that you’re going to get divorced. Now that we got that falsehood out of the way, let’s talk a little about what a prenup is. Basically, it’s like having an insurance policy for your marriage. A prenup can help protect your assets and property while protecting you from your partner’s debt. Now is the perfect time to discuss whether or not either of you is opposed to getting a prenup.
Unlike celebrity prenups, they’re not going to force uncomfortable settlements, like making your partner walk away with nothing should things end in divorce. Standard prenups (for ordinary people) can have almost any condition you and your partner desire, including sunset clauses that allow parts of the prenup to drop off as you specify.
Prenups are a solid investment in your future and not in any way a predictor of the success of your marriage.
Speaking of reasons why they may not want a prenup, could it be related to financial matters? One survey found that nearly a third of couples said money matters are a major source of conflict in their relationship. You don’t want to get married without knowing your significant other’s financial status and spending habits. Being blindsided by a mountain of debt after you’ve signed the marriage license is a stinky way to start your life of bliss.
Pro tip: prenups can help because they usually require a financial statement upfront. This can be an excellent way to open up a conversation that’s often uncomfortable. Aside from knowing where the other person stands financially, it’s a great idea to discuss future goals and dreams. Where does your significant other see you both in five years? What about ten or twenty years?
Both your spending habits and opinions on money will affect these long-term goals and your daily married lives. Financial conversations are incredibly important and usually must be had more than once. Don’t skip this crucial pre-wedding step!
3. Family Dynamics
Do you envision a home in the suburbs with three kids and a dog? Well, you better ensure your significant other has the same idyllic picture in mind because it takes two to tango! Family can be a joyous thing for some, while it can be emotionally challenging for others. We have all grown up with different experiences, and these life events will factor into your version of family.
Talking about how many kids you want (if any) is obvious, but don’t forget about other considerations too. Such as how big a role do you want the extended family to play? What kind of family dynamics do you envision? These things may shift as you celebrate anniversary after anniversary, but making sure they’re somewhat aligned to start is a good idea.
4. Life Plans
Family planning falls under the umbrella of life plans. In addition to kids, where does your partner want to live? What career are they interested in, and what will their work-life balance look like? Are they planning on retiring early?
We love love, even if it usually puts some blinders on us when it comes to seeing the bigger picture. But take a step back and think about the trajectory of your lives – together. Maybe you wanted a small house in the country, a steady job, and evenings and weekends to run through the yard with your kids. What if they wish to a city high rise afforded by late nights at work that also offers the perk of frequent travel? Your life views sometimes drew your partner to you, and other times a point of disagreement.
These conversations will be frank and sometimes brutal, but don’t shy away from them! While neither of you may have all the answers, what matters is that you’re thinking about them together.
5. Wedding Plans
This is the fun part, truly! Sure, it can be a little stressful at times, but who doesn’t love tasting wedding cake, trying on gorgeous outfits, or planning one of the most beautiful days of their life with the person they love most in the world?! We’re getting a little teary-eyed just thinking about it.
We probably don’t have to tell you about everything to consider when planning a wedding. Honestly, there are books written about this topic! However, we urge you to let the above considerations play a role.
For example, now that you know each other’s financial situations, you can probably better formulate a budget for your big day. Your opinions will likely factor into how many guests you want to invite, the seating chart, and how strict you want to be about wedding traditions. Just because you had meaningful conversations doesn’t mean you can wash your hands of them.
We know these conversations can be tricky. But we promise you it’s so much better to have them pre-wedding than post-wedding. You don’t need to have these awkward discussions every chance you get. Try setting aside time to talk about them and then time where these topics don’t come up at all. There are also best practices when talking to your partner about complex issues; check this out!
Some couples have these heart-to-hearts pre-engagement, others before the big day. Try not to wait until the chapel is in the rearview of your “just married” car.
Julia Rodgers is HelloPrenup’s CEO and Co-Founder. She is a Massachusetts family law attorney and true believer in the value of prenuptial agreements. HelloPrenup was created with the goal of automating the prenup process, making it more collaborative, time efficient and cost effective. Julia believes that a healthy marriage is one in which couples can openly communicate about finances and life goals. You can read more about us here Questions? Reach out to Julia directly at [email protected].