I am a hard-working Norwegian expat currently living alone in Dubai. For the past few years, I have been trying to save to wed my fiancé. This past Valentine’s Day got me thinking that now is the time to finally make a move, and I have started to look at securing a date for the big day. I’m a bit worried about costs, however. What advice can you give me?

Marriages may be made in heaven, but they have to be paid for in hard currency here on earth.

And, by all accounts, the final outlay can be pretty steep in the region. According to Bridal Attractions 2011, which polled nationals and Arab expatriate women across the GCC, more than 40 percent say they have spent, or intend to spend, more than AED 183,500 on their nuptials. 12 brave souls have set their sights on shelling out more than AED367,000.

Factor in inflation and the potential price-tag can become even more overwhelming.

While extravagant and opulent weddings are clearly commonplace in the UAE – and you may well have the earning power to enjoy one – it is important to stay within a defined budget.

Unfortunately, arguments stemming from money issues are now well-established as a major cause of marital conflict. You won’t find a psychologist or financial expert in the land that will claim financial peace of mind isn’t a vital foundation for a long-lasting union.

Get into the healthy habit of being open, honest and transparent. If you are planning to be a couple, you can’t keep secrets of this nature. Talk to your partner. Establish specific goals and boundaries from the outset and stick to them rigorously

Whether you opt for the grandiose or Spartan it is worth talking to a financial advisor. Now is the time to get your finances in order – not just for the big day itself but also well into the future. Set plans in motion to clear up debts and do everything you can to tie up any niggling financial loose ends you have chosen to avoid up until this moment.

One of the most responsible things you can do is to get some form of life insurance. Key options here are “term insurance” (a defined period of insurance) and “whole life” insurance. The latter is particularly powerful, as it can also be seen as an investment. For example, policy-holders can borrow against it to handle emerging financial needs.

Marriage equals responsibility in the best possible sense, and you must provide for your spouse and eventual kids should the worst come to the worst.

You also need to think about saving for retirement – irrespective of your age.

Accumulating funds in your account is all well and good, but there may be other options to consider. There is a whole array of UAE-based financial products that can make your money work for you and give you greater flexibility as you ramp up your earning power over time. Again, this is where a good financial advisor will come in handy. A constructive conversation with somebody in the know will help determine your level of risk, both now and into the future.

A wedding is a magical moment in anyone’s life and a fantastic opportunity to plan for the future. This is the time to happily transition from living selfishly for the moment to living selflessly as a couple. The best years of your life lie ahead. Financial stability or – at the very least – clarity will help pave the way to a long, happy life. Good luck.

The writer is Sandi Saksena, Sales Manager, Nexus Insurance Brokers. Opinion expressed here is her own and do not reflect that of Gulf News.