If you're planning a wedding this year, you may be deciding on a venue, the guest list, and your attire. But there is another discussion you should be having with your partner, according to the experts: What your financial life will look like once you're married.
While money may not be the most fun topic — in fact, it's one that most couples fight about — experts say having money talks is essential to starting your marriage out right.
"Have all the tough financial conversations as soon as you can," Bridesmaid for Hire founder Jen Glantz said during a recent Grow Twitter chat. "Figure out joint financial plans now and for the future. It might be emotional, but it's always worth doing so the marriage can start strong."
During the chat, experts offered four strategies to help start your marriage off on the right financial foot.
"Talk about money long before you even think 'they're the one' so that you don't have financial surprises," tweeted John and David Auten-Schneider of the Debt Free Guys.
When approaching these conversations, having a checklist of key topics can help, suggested the team at WeddingWire. "Before you get married, make sure you have the following financial conversations: your credit scores, taxes, sources of income, liabilities, approach to saving money, and future goals," they tweeted.
Video by Ian Wolsten
While that list may seem intimidating, experts suggest easing in. "Start fun. Start w/ hopes, dreams and goals first. Later, reverse engineer how you'll reach those hopes, dreams and goals," suggested the Auten-Schneiders.
"You don't need to have the exact same goals," said Lauren Anastasio, a recently married certified financial planner with online personal finance company SoFi. "But communicating these differences early on and planning properly for the future together can help iron out financial challenges."
It can be difficult to determine when these conversations should happen. Many experts recommend scheduling dedicated "money dates."
"Setting up regular 'money dates' will help make sure you & your future spouse are aligned on your financial goals & strategies," wrote Anastasio. "My husband and I have money dates monthly. We started this before we got married so that we were on the same page."
Video by Ian Wolsten
The team at WeddingWire also suggested monthly check-ins. "Financial conversations shouldn't be taboo," they tweeted. Check in with your partner "to discuss your spending, saving, goal-setting and more."
These money talks will only get more important as your relationship progresses, said shopping expert Trae Bodge. "Those dates will be so important when/if kids enter the equation."
During these tough conversations and money dates, you may find you're not on the same page with how your partner thinks about money. It can help to bring on "an impartial third party" such as a financial advisor, suggested Anastasio. They can help you "talk through your shared goals and the best plan forward."
Winnie Sun, a certified financial planner and the founder of Sun Group Wealth Partners, agreed. "My advice for all couples is to make a meeting together with a trusted financial advisor," she tweeted. "We are experienced in getting you both on the same financial page. We can help you plan for your financial goals and help you grow financially together."
Video by Mariam Abdallah
Not ending up in debt due to the cost of your wedding and honeymoon is certainly one important aspect of starting out your marriage financially strong. Most couples are juggling other financial goals: In a recent survey from Grow and WeddingWire, more than 60% of engaged couples said that in addition to saving for their weddings, they were saving money for at least one other major expense, including buying a house, paying student loans, and saving for retirement.
"Don't overdo it on the wedding or honeymoon. Yes, these experiences are important, but you don't want to start your lives off in debt," said Bodge. "If money is really tight, consider having a very small wedding and planning a bigger celebration down the road."
Bodge also suggested considering registering for your honeymoon instead of the traditional houseware items. "Are you really going to use that crystal glassware?" she asked. She and her husband registered for their three-week honeymoon in southeast Asia and, she tweeted, "It was heaven."
"Planning a wedding is one of the bigger collaborations in a relationship," Bodge added. "How you work together can set the stage for those other big life moments. My advice? Be 100% honest and approach it as a team rather than 'me vs. you.'"
More from Grow: