Weddings cost a pretty penny, but that’s not the only financial consideration you should make before walking down the aisle. Here’s why it’s so important to talk about money before you say, “I do.”

By Libby Wildman

Financial Expert

When the team at Living Luxe told me they were planning to include content about weddings in this issue, I was really excited — I love a good wedding! The gathering of family and close friends to celebrate and support two people who have publicly decided to commit to their love always makes me shed a tear or two. Today, marriage can take on many forms and it can certainly reflect your own personal style. The number of Canadians saying “I do” dwindled during the pandemic, but weddings are back, and folks are starting to make it down the aisle. Most count on spending about $15,000 on their big day, but the average cost is double that. (Given some of the beautiful options being showcased in the magazine, I would certainly want to budget for a little more than that, if money is not a worry.)


If you’re getting married, what do you really need to budget for? What are you planning to cover and what do you expect your wedding party and friends to pay for? I mentor many young people, and I’ve heard some who have been asked to participate in a friend’s or family member’s wedding have spent upwards of $5,000 to $10,000 on the event. Couture dresses, spending on parties and hosting out-of-town (or out-of-country) bachelor and bachelorette getaways definitely add up. And from what I’ve heard, cash is now the preferred gift for the happy couple.


Regardless of your budget, if you’re the one getting married, talking about money and how you’ll handle your finances before and after you tie the knot is something I strongly suggest all couples tackle prior to obtaining a marriage licence. Discussing money should be as important as divulging your thoughts, habits and family upbringing. It’s right up there with talking about whether you want children, the role religion will play in your lives (if any) and your core beliefs.


Weirdly, it is widely believed that sharing your financial spreadsheets when dating is way more personal than getting into bed with one another. Each family has a unique culture, and you are marrying those experiences, habits and traditions with your partner’s. The age-old adage “opposites attract” is wonderful and yet, this is where the work is to be done when it comes to finances. Now’s the time to start sharing stories about what money meant in your upbringing. Maybe every time you were sad, your father gave you the credit card to go shopping, and now, you’re finding it hard to kick your retail therapy habit. Perhaps the utility bills were always paid late and there was never quite enough to buy the things your friends had, so you have an innate fear of being without things you need. Maybe you had parents who drilled it in you to save one-third, spend one-third and give one-third of the money you earned to charity; thus, helping others is an important value you maintain. We can’t change the environment we grew up in, however, we can be aware and honest and willing to put in place systems that work for both of you.


Tell each other what you earn. Does it make you feel proud or shameful? Discuss what you own and what you owe. Are you a spendthrift or a devout saver? If there is a real discrepancy in the amounts you both earn, nailing down who pays for what can be super tricky. These perspectives matter and will determine the ultimate path of your marriage. Money-related issues will inevitably drive you crazy.


There are many ways to create wealth and it starts by defining wealth. Learning to live within your means is the golden rule. No matter how much money you make, your percentage habits will remain the same. If you see all your income as spending money versus saving and investing, you will always revert to this habit, no matter how much money you make. Learning to communicate and being open to learning new habits is key. Living comfortably within your means will allow you to achieve your goals as you earn more.


My heartfelt wish for all newlyweds is to have your vows focus on accepting each other as you currently are. We will evolve as human beings over the years, yet our very basic thoughts and values are pretty much baked in from childhood. Real change takes conscious commitment. Understanding each other’s money language is key. Topics to cover are prioritizing expenses, budgeting, debt management and investment styles. This will give you deep insight into each other’s money habits. This is an intimate, trusting conversation and it will help you grow and build that trust as you navigate your new life together. If you lovingly manage this part of your married life, I promise you, other challenges will be more easily conquered.


Libby Wildman is Head of Wealth Advisory at the Toronto-based investment firm Davis Rea, founder of the The Collective, a women’s entrepreneur community and the founder of Liminal Escapes creative curated retreats.