The to-do list for newly engaged couples can be daunting. Finding a venue, booking a caterer, choosing a dress -- there are many details that need to be factored into a wedding budget, regardless of who is paying. Starting a new life together is a perfect opportunity to establish solid financial habits that will serve you well throughout your marriage. A CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional can help couples develop a smart plan to manage engagement and wedding expenses. Setting priorities early on can help avoid conflicts as the big day approaches. Start by considering these four elements of planning for wedding expenses: Make a list. Write down everything you both need or want for your dream wedding. That includes items large and small, from the number of guests to the types of flowers or favors. Rank the list. Now that you have your list, put things in order of priority. Assign a number to each item in order of importance, such as a live band, sit-down dinner or elaborate cake. Or start by sorting needs and wants into categories, using 1 as most important, 2 as moderately important and 3 as least important. You will need to agree on the most important items, whatever those may be. Budget the list. Assign an estimated price to each category or item, according to how much you are able and willing to spend. Consider cutting back on flowers in order to fund a sit-down dinner, for instance, or opt for a buffet-style dinner so you can invite more guests. Listen to the lists. This is the time to be a good listener. Hear what your partner has to say about needs and wants; what is important to one of you may not be as important to the other. Financial compromise is a skill that will serve you throughout married life. Data from loan services show that approximately 45% of couples racked up debt to pay for their wedding, and that ultimately the debt resulted in consideration of divorce. Nip that risk in the bud by avoiding debt when you assess your wedding expenses. A CFP® professional can help you think outside the box and guide you in making smart financial choices during the wedding planning process.