Planning Doesn’t Stop at the Reception

By Ruth Owens Parsons CLU, ChFC, CPCU

A wedding is one of the most joyous times in the lives of families. It represents the beginning of the lives of a new family unit. It involves the coming together of friends and relatives, and shared hospitality amongst family and guests. A wedding can be a large event in a fancy setting with all the bells and whistles pulled together by the mastery of a skilled wedding planner. Or it can be a small intimate affair, perhaps a family only event. While considering the many aspects of insurance which are relevant to a wedding and new marriage, it occurred to me that weddings are also a time when several generations come together and celebrate a new union. Picture with me, if you will, grandparents and great-grandparents, mothers and fathers, all brought together to rejoice with the newlyweds. This picture of the various generations in a family brings to mind the different goals and objectives of these family members at their current life stages, and the questions unique to each at their particular places in life.

Let’s explore first the questions facing the great-grandparents and grandparents. What a difference their life is like now at 50, 60, or more years from their wedding date. If you asked them, I bet they’d say time sure flew by. Are they in good health? Do they live independently in the home or condo they own? Do they need assistance with their daily living? Are they near other family members and support systems? Are they active and fit and enjoying the grandchildren?

How about mom and dad? Their life now is probably vastly different from their wedding decades ago. Are they still working, or semi-retired, or maybe even retired? Is their retirement plan to supplement Social Security in good shape? Is their home paid for? Are their credit card balances and auto loans under control in this life stage before retirement? Have they begun thinking of their future long term care needs? Is their life insurance the permanent kind that they own which will take them to old age, and not the employer-provided kind which goes away or changes at retirement?

The newlyweds are embarking on a new journey together where they will have to figure out which direction their new family will go. How much will they start saving? Are they starting their life with the debt of this new wedding, or did it deplete the savings they had? If they were lucky, maybe the wedding was a gift for which they aren’t responsible. What about their housing? Or transportation considerations? Do they both bring previous debts to the marriage, such as student loans and credit cards? They’ll have the generations before them to help guide them along as they begin to figure out the direction they wish to head.

While these questions for each generation are vastly different from the previous one, they all point out the relevance of having a plan and the importance of implementing each step as they move forward. As you read this wedding issue, I hope these questions may bring to mind some aspects of your life phase that need your attention, or have assured you that you are on the right track. Wherever you are in your journey, an insurance advisor who knows you and your goals can make all the difference in the successful implementation of your life’s plan. I would welcome the opportunity to help you at whatever stage your life journey happens to be.