(ARA) One thing you can say about the credit crunch - it isn’t romantic. But for couples about to exchange “I do’s,” a clear understanding of each other’s credit history as singles, and how they will use credit as a couple, is vital to ensure their future wedded bliss. All signs point to the reality that credit is likely to be difficult to get for a while, even for those with good credit scores. Getting married is a life-changing event that will impact your credit rating. It is important for couples to be open and honest with each other about their credit histories, credit-use habits and plans for using future credit. Credit has become an integral part of the American institution of marriage. If you are newlyweds, you will likely require credit to fund some of your basic needs and dreams - from buying your first house to financing the large vehicle you will need to transport the family you plan to have. Your blended credit rating will decide how easy or difficult it is to secure those loans at favorable rates. �������������������������������� How can you prevent ����������� the credit crunch from putting the squeeze on your plans for building a life together? Here are some basic tips: Do a financial review before your ‘I do’s’ Exchange credit reports. As a single person, your credit score was a private matter between you and the people from whom you borrowed money. When you are married, your credit history becomes linked to your spouse’s and he or she deserves to know ahead of time how you rate with lenders. Knowing what is on your credit report is the first vital step toward reaching your personal financial goals as a couple. Get a copy of your credit report at www.FreeCreditReport.com and present it to your intended. Set mutual priorities and goals. If you both have significant debt, perhaps your goal will be to pay that off before incurring any new debt. Pool your earnings to pay off the highest interest debts first. That $9,000 credit card debt may cost more in interest each month than the $14,000 auto loan. If you both are relatively debt-free, good for you. You can turn your attention to setting savings and spending priorities, including saving for a down payment on a house (the low-rate, zero-down loan is virtually extinct), putting money aside for your retirement or building up your cushion of savings in case the economy gets worse and one of WEDDING Planner January 28, 2009 THE VILLADOM TIMES II & III • Page 11 2009 you loses a job. Decide which priority is highest on your list, agree on a time frame for reaching that goal and organize a game plan for getting there. It is important to have these discussions before the wedding. You will both enjoy your big day more knowing you are on the same page regarding your financial future. Find the perfect pearls for your wedding ensemble (ARA) Pearls are the perfect wedding companion. Known by some as the “Queen of Gems,” the classic elegance of pearls transcends centuries and style fads. Nothing looks more beautiful with a bridal gown than a single strand of flawless pearls. But pearls are not just for the bride – they are also the perfect accessory for bridesmaids. Today, pearls can be found in shades ranging from the traditional white all the way through the color spectrum, including pink, green, and black, so they will coordinate with the wedding party’s dresses. If you are confused by the different types of pearls on the market, you’re not alone. Pearls are classified according to their origin and their shape. Because of the wide variety of pearls available, you can choose a look and a price that is right for you. Pearls are formed when a foreign object enters the shell of a mollusk and triggers the release of nacre, which builds layer upon layer until a pearl is formed. Most pearls in retail stores today are cultured pearls. They are less expensive than natural pearls because they are mass-produced with the aid of technology. Instead of waiting for nature to take its course, pearl farmers insert an irritant and a nucleus (often a mother of pearl bead) into an oyster to speed up the process. Cultured pearls come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and many are dyed, which means you can find a wide range of colors. Akoya cultured pearls are produced by the Akoya oyster found in the waters surrounding Japan. They to cream, pink, green, silver, and gold. These pearls can vary in size from between two millimeters to 10 millimeters. Cultured Akoya pearls are the quintessential strand in a creamy white color. Multiple strands or choker styles are hot wedding trends. Because they are affordable, cultured Akoya pearls also make great bridesmaids and mothers’ gifts. South Sea cultured pearls are larger than Akoyas, usually more than 10 millimeters. Produced in the warm waters of the South Seas, they come mainly from Australia, Indonesia and the Philippines. These pearls are usually white, yellow, or gold. Due to their size and rarity, South Sea pearls are expensive. Exotic golden South Sea pearls in particular have gained popularity in the United States in recent years. Tahitian pearls are produced in Tahiti, the Cook Islands, and Mexico. They range in color from black, to aubergine, pistachio and many other colors, often with overtones of blue, pink, or green. These pearls range between eight and 15 millimeters and are highly valued because of their rarity. When choosing pearls, look for nacre thickness and quality. Nacre quality determines how long the pearl will last and how light reflects through the pearls. Check for any cracks or peeling in the nacre. Also look for how the pearls on a strand are matched. Pearl matching affects the value of the piece, as mismatched pearls are not as aesthetically pleasing. Finally, look for pearls that are individually knotted between each pearl instead of just strung one after the other. Knotting is a sign of quality. are almost perfectly round and are well known for their high luster and rich color, which can range from white Frame a Wedding Memory! 27 East Prospect St. Waldwick, NJ 201-670-7666 U-Neek Vacations... ...your local honeymoon and destination wedding experts. “Just say where and we’ll send U there!” Please allow our personal vacation planners the pleasure of making your travel dreams a reality. Call/email us for an appointment today... U-Neek Vacations 201-670-UFLY (8359) p 201-670-8341 f uneekvacations@aol.com uneekvacations.4mydeals.com Hours: Tues-Fri 10-5:30, Sat 9-4:30