Budget for your wedding and live happily ever after

Q: I got engaged over the holidays and we're starting to plan our wedding. What suggestions do you have to help us keep costs reasonable?

A: Congratulations on this next big step in your lives! It's an exciting time charged with emotions and expectations. Start by deciding what the two of you want for your big day and what you can afford.

Many couples are getting back to the basics with something old -- a budget. Written down, a budget can be strangely motivating, and a budget for your big day gives you and your intended the freedom to plan and make choices with what you have. Your discussions then change from what you can't afford to what you can afford (which is a lot more fun!).

As you plan what you would like for your wedding, something new might come your way. Be open to new ideas and find creative ways to stick to your budget. Weddings are often times when we rely on tradition, but your new life together doesn't need to start with a tradition of debt.

Something borrowed doesn't mean credit. As you look forward to planning your married life -- not just your wedding day -- plan how you will afford your lifestyle without being burdened by debt and the stress that comes from unrealistic expectations and arguments about money.

Something blue might be the $5 bills you can save by making coffee at home each morning with your new spouse, not the feelings you'll have as the debts pile up. Regardless of who is paying for your wedding, looking for ways to afford some of what you want, rather than everything fairy tales are made of, will help you stick to your budget.

Living happily ever after your wedding day is worth more than the penny you'll place so carefully in your shoe.