Wedding season typically peaks in late summer and early fall, according to wedding website TheKnot.com. This year, that peak may be even more noticeable due to pent-up demand for wedding festivities caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
HERE”S SOME USEFUL FINANCIAL ADVICE FOR COUPLES WHO TIE THE KNOT IN 2021
How Much Does It Cost to Tie the Knot?
The average cost of a wedding —excluding the engagement ring and honeymoon — was about $19,000 in 2020, down significantly from the average of $28,000 in 2019, according to The Real Weddings Study 2020 [COVID-19 Edition]. The pandemic has temporarily reduced the average cost, largely because the average number of guests fell dramatically last year.
The drop in average wedding cost seems to be only temporary, according to the survey. The average cost for a wedding reception in 2021 is expected to be roughly $22,500.
Costs vary significantly by geographic location, however. The most expensive state to get married is New Jersey, where couples spend an average of $53,400 for a wedding and reception. The least expensive state is Utah, where the average cost is only $19,700.
Whether you’re planning a wedding celebration now or later, it’s important to remember the administrative tasks to address when you say, “I do.” Many of these tasks relate to name changes. Some people choose to take on their spouse’s last name or use a hyphenated (or blended) version of both last names.
The tradition of changing names is becoming less common. Many newlyweds, including some same-sex married couples and people over 35 with established careers, are sticking with their original surnames.
If you do decide to change your name, here’s the protocol after you’re legally wed:
Visit Your Local SSA Office. Notify the Social Security Administration (SSA) after you’re married to protect Social Security benefits and credit ratings. To get a new Social Security card, you need to complete an application (available online) and provide proof of identification with your old and new names, such as a driver’s license and a marriage certificate. If you were born outside the United States, you’ll also need proof that you’re a citizen or legally in the country.
Update IRS Records. The SSA informs the IRS about name changes, and the tax agency’s records are generally updated 10 days later. If you don’t notify the SSA and file a tax return with your new married name, IRS computers won’t be able to match the new name with the Social Security number.
Spread the Word. Once your name is officially changed with the SSA, newlyweds need to share the good news with everyone else. In addition to filling out the proper forms with your employer’s human resource department, here are some other records to update to avoid confusion:
- Driver’s license,
- State and local tax records,
- Voter registration,
- Vehicle registration,
- Property titles,
- Utility records, such as phone, cell phone, electric, gas, water and trash removal,
- Bank, credit card and brokerage accounts,
- Pension and retirement plans,
- Insurance policies and beneficiaries,
- Medical, dental and pharmacy records, and
- Email addresses and social media accounts.
When you return to work after the honeymoon, consult your company’s human resource department to evaluate how your change in marital status affects your benefits options. You might save money by eliminating duplicate health care or life insurance coverage, for example. And don’t forget to change beneficiary designations on retirement plans and insurance policies.
Combining Your Finances
Financial matters are a leading cause of conflict for married couples, especially when you’re trying to blend two established households into one. So, it’s important to consult a R+R tax advisors to get a handle on your financial, tax and estate planning strategies as a joint household.
Newlyweds need to candidly discuss such issues as how much savings and debt each partner brings to the table. Each partner’s credit rating should be disclosed to identify potential problems early in the relationship.
You’ll also need to decide whether to combine your savings, checking and credit card accounts. Even if you decide to maintain separate accounts, it’s often helpful to have at least one joint account to pay for shared expenses, such as the costs of a mortgage or car, rent, household expenses and childcare.
A joint account can also help avoid trouble in case one spouse dies. When a spouse or common law partner dies and there are separate accounts, the survivor will be excluded from the other separate account if the estate goes into probate.
In addition, R+R often help newlyweds establish joint financial goals, including annual budgets and contingency plans in case a spouse gets laid off or becomes disabled. Once your short-term goals are set, look to the future: What age do you expect to retire? Where would you like to live when you retire? What activities — such as hobbies, travel, part-time work and volunteerism — do you envision participating in during your golden years? Are your current retirement account savings and contributions sufficient to achieve those goals?
Don’t let administrative chores prevent you from living happily ever after. R+R tax advisors are here to help address critical housekeeping chores head-on – Contact us today.
About Reynolds + Rowella
Reynolds + Rowella is a regional accounting and consulting firm known for a team approach to financial problem solving. As Certified Public Accountants, our partners foster a personal touch with our clients. As members of DFK International/USA, an association of accountants and advisors, our professional network is international, yet many of our clients have known us for years through the local communities we serve.
Our mission is to operate as a financial services firm of outstanding quality. Our efforts are directed at serving our clients in the most efficient and responsive manner possible, delivering services that exceed the expectations of those we serve. The firm has offices at 90 Grove St., Ridgefield, Conn., and 51 Locust Ave., New Canaan, Conn. For more information, please contact Elizabeth Bresnan at 203.438.0161 or email.