June is traditionally the start of wedding season, and preparing to tie the knot is an exciting time in a couple’s life and an ideal occasion to start preparing for a secure financial future together. In fact, before saying “I do,” couples should sit down to develop a financial strategy for the wedding and life beyond “the big day.”

According to theweddingreport.com, approximately 2.2 million couples marry each year in the United States. Considered to be a once-in-a-lifetime occasion, a wedding is a major milestone, and consumers tend to allocate significant budgets to the event and related purchases. Even though theweddingreport.com reports a 24 percent decline from the 2007 average wedding cost of $28,704, the 2008 average was still significant at $21,814. The estimated 2008 wedding market value was $61.4 billion.

“A wedding is expensive, but it doesn’t have to be a financial burden,” says Vicki Brackens, a financial services representative with MetLife. “With proper planning, couples can ensure that their finances add value to their relationship, rather than detract from their union. Ideally, couples should work toward financial stability to help their wealth grow with their love over time.”

The following are tips for planning a successful marriage and financial future before saying “I do:”

* Review each other’s credit reports and monthly income statements;

* Discuss who will handle the day-to-day financial decisions such as paying bills, budgeting and saving for future goals, i.e. children’s college education, a home, and retirement;

* Create a detailed, written financial strategy;

* Decide whether you will have a joint bank account(s);

* Choose medical benefits policies;

* Complete or update wills;

* Review the beneficiaries on any retirement and saving accounts; and

* Consider buying life insurance policies to protect each other should anything happen to either person

For more information about how to begin building a stable financial future beyond the wedding, speak with an experienced financial representative.