Budgeting for the Perfect Wedding
Tips on how to create and follow a budget when planning your wedding are outlined. Details on setting priorities and creative ideas are given.
Many brides dream of the perfect wedding from the time they are little girls. These events may be small, private affairs in a beloved garden or large, elaborate parties at a local country club. Whatever the dream, it will require money. In today's environment, a budget is essential to planning any wedding. Creating a budget involves more than simply knowing how much money there is to spend. A budget requires setting priorities and being flexible when choices must be made.
A wedding involves many details, and some will be more important than others. Imagine celebrating the wedding anniversary in five years. What will you have to remind you of the day? These are the items that may have the highest priority. A good photographer will provide photos and possibly video of the day. These keepsakes can be viewed and shared over many years – particularly when they are well preserved in a wedding album or in a digital format. A wedding gown may be an heirloom for others to wear, but remember that a gown is also very personal and may not be what a daughter wants to wear.
Priorities may also be set if there are certain items that are not negotiable. The bride may have a specific location in mind for the reception, and no other location is acceptable. The fees and expenses associated with this location are therefore set, and other items will need to be planned accordingly. The bride may have a specific photographer, caterer, or another vendor that she simply must use such other items will need to be budgeted accordingly.
Once priorities have been set, it is time to determine how much money is available for the event.
Creating a Wedding Budget
Many couples are getting married later in life and so have their own financial resources available to help with expenses. The groom's family may also want to share in the expenses. When creating a budget, everyone should meet together. Some parents may want to donate a specific amount to the overall event and allow the couple to determine how to spend it, while other parents may want to pay for a specific item, such as the food at the reception. Discuss who wants to pay for what and how the budget should be handled.
It is important to be very clear at this early stage and write down the details. A written agreement or contract is not necessary, but take notes and review them while everyone is together, so there are no questions later about who is responsible for what. It is important to determine:
How much each person/couple will contribute
How the payment/contribution will be made
When the payment/contribution will be made
Who will handle making payments to vendors when needed
Who will have the final word when choices need to be made
Remember that, often, the person paying for something expects to have a say in how that money is spent. Verify that all monies will be received prior to making payments to vendors. Vendors will require a down payment when booking their services, a second payment prior to the wedding, and full payment by the day of the wedding.
Once the overall budget has been created, it is time to start researching vendors and making choices.
Creative Choices to Help Reduce Costs
There are not many brides who can have whatever they want for their wedding. Choices must be made, and some concessions will be needed to avoid going into debt to pay for the wedding and reception. Since priorities have already been set, it should be simpler to cut expenses on items that are not high priorities. The following are a list of simple ideas:
Print your own invitations and programs
Have gowns made by a local seamstress or family member?
Modify a mother's or grandmother's wedding gown to wear
Have the wedding cake made by a talented family member
Serve snacks and appetizers rather than a full meal.
Don't serve alcohol or have a cash bar.
Choose a location that will not require additional floral decorations.
Make your own simple table decorations – such as a candle on a mirror or floating in a bowl.
Use a DJ instead of a live band.
Use fresh flowers from a garden rather than a florist.
Being creative will help the overall budget and may make the event a memorable one. Talk to other brides who are planning weddings or have recently married for the most up to date trends and ideas.
The most difficult part of making a budget is sticking with it. There are many details involved when planning a wedding, and some items may be missed when setting the initial budget. Consider including a budget for "other items as needed" that can be used to pay for these unexpected expenses. Try to enjoy the process of planning and take an occasional break when needed.