Planning a wedding with your partner will likely be the first major financial decision that you’ll make together. Wedding planning does not come cheap with the cost of a wedding in the U.S. steadily on the rise (right now the average wedding cost is $29,195). 

Talking about money does not have to be scary or stressful, and wedding planning does not have to send you into debt or into a mental spiral. Here are five tips for having those essential money conversations before you say “I do.”

Begin the Conversation Early

Before you start seeking outside advice from the internet and your best friends, talk to your fiancé. Initiate conversations around your wedding budget early on. Don’t shy away from it or make assumptions about wedding planning spending. Set a time to talk about money, wedding wants and needs and savings plans. Have your spreadsheet ready!

Gather Estimates

Now, it’s time to do your research. Gather costs of caterers, venues, attire, makeup, DJs, etc. This will help you create a budget (see the next step) and know exactly what the average market price for your wedding essentials is. Be sure to get as close to the exact price from the vendors you are seriously considering.

Establish What You Can Afford 

This step could also be called “create your hardline budget.” Once you gather estimates and estimate the overall costs, figuring out exactly what you and your partner can contribute and establishing an overall budget is key. Know exactly what you can afford as a couple. Take time to discuss any difficult emotions that come along with seeing your hardline budget.

Discuss Your Non-negotiables

As you navigate wedding budget conversations, discuss your non-negotiables. Are there must-haves for your wedding day? Perhaps, there’s a certain type of food, venue location or DJ that is quintessential to your big day. List out your bucket list items and the prices. Once you have that list, figure out how you can allocate funds elsewhere and make it stretch.  

Decide Who You’ll Receive Financial Support From (and Clarify Expectations)

Once you outline estimated prices, how much you and your partner can afford and your non-negotiables, you might need to ask for help financing your wedding from parents and family members. Be specific about what you are asking for and clarify expectations. Will there be strings attached now that they are contributing? Will they have a say in certain aspects of your wedding? Be sure to confirm that everyone is on the same page.