Once you have gotten past the initial excitement of wedding now the hard thoughts come to mind. Most of those ideas you have on your Pinterest board usually cost money, so how are you going to make your dream wedding?! The first step is to decide what your total budget will be, as well as what is going to fall underneath that budget. When deciding that budget, you will also need to figure out who is going to pay for that. Back in the day, for American weddings, the bride's family was responsible for the entire wedding, as well as the engagement party. The groom's family was responsible for the rehearsal dinner. More recently, there are many different styles now on deciding who pays and it is not taboo. However, having that discussion may be uncomfortable depending on the family! Don’t be afraid to be honest and ask how your parents handled their weddings and see what they are comfortable with! Recently, couples have been paying for their weddings entirely on their own. Having the groom's family pay for half, and the bride's family pay for the other half. Going thirds with all parties. I always like to keep this part in perspective with my clients, at the end of the day, hell or highwater, you get to be married and this is a celebration with you and your fiance! If things don’t go perfect or you can’t have certain things, 99% of the time, you will look back and remember the important parts- like actually getting married and dancing the night away with your friends and family! The other part to deciding total budget is what is going under that. Some common items couples may/may not leave out include; engagement party, rehearsal dinner, wedding bands, honeymoon, wedding dress, wedding party gifts, and family gifts. The last important aspect for deciding total budget, is how many guests you would like at your wedding! On average, a guest can cost anywhere for $50 - $150 per person. This number comes from the food, to how big a venue needs to be, and how many tables you need (which includes decor of some sort at each table). So if you want 200 people, you could be paying upwards of $30,000 without including a photo/videographer, DJ, makeup/hair, and attire! This number comes from working with other vendors and getting input from their prices in the Midwest area. Different regions can vary in prices. In the U.S., weddings cost an average of $33,900 in 2019, including all the expenses related to the engagement ring, ceremony and reception, according to the latest Real Weddings study from The Knot. After making those decisions on how much money you are wanting to spend, you then need to decide where that money is going.
Now if you only have a certain amount of money, but big plans for your wedding, there are ways to make it happen! Again, a wedding planner is really key, regardless of budget to help find solutions to problems like this. The first step is seeing how many guests you want to invite, the smaller number, less you have to spend! The second step is when you want to get married, because if you want to get married during prime wedding season, you’re going to be paying for prime season money! The Northeast region of the US is going to be Aug-Oct. In the South, it is Apr-June. The Midwest is between Jun-Oct. The West will be closer to Jun - Aug. Alaska would be from May- Aug, and Hawaii would be Mar-May. Another big budget sucker are floral's. There are also seasons for certain flowers, and certain flowers generally cost more than others. Talk to your florist to see what they suggest. On top of different style flowers, bouquets for all the bridesmaids on top of boutonnieres/corsages for the wedding party/family is a big spender. Consider alternatives or cutting completely! The only thing you really use them for is to hold them during the ceremony, so if you’re tight and would rather have a beautiful installation for your ceremony consider them gone! Another great way to fill tables is greenery, which is always very cheap, but never looks cheap! An aspect to also consider rolling back on is your paper products/stationery! While your invites may seem so important at the moment, most of them will end up in the trash after receiving them, a few may put them up on the fridge but that's the best case scenario. Another thing is RSVP cards, recently, having a wedding website where guests can RSVP online, is a lot easier and more convenient than having to mail back an extra card, with stamps that you may have to pay for. Another stationary product to potentially cut out is the ceremony programs. Couples can easily spend a few hundred dollars on something that usually litters the ceremony site and people throw away immediately. If you would like a program, consider making a large sign where all the information is there and guests can take a photo of that if they would like to know the schedule!
There are two schools of thought when it comes to budgeting. Top down budgeting style, or bottom up budgeting style. My personal opinion and the one that usually involves you not having as many last minute expenses is bottom up budgeting style. In layman's terms, it means getting some opinions on how much things will cost for what you want, before setting your budget for certain things. Having an event planner will be very helpful with this as well. The other option is the top down budgeting style. Where you preemptively split your budget before meeting with vendors. When most people think of how to budget, this is usually the style they lean towards, but after falling in love with a certain venue, or flowers, your plan can go sideways pretty quickly and things will add up fast.
After handling budget cap and style, now comes the fun part of spending the money to make your dream a reality! My “King Rule” for wedding budgets is as follows; if you have great photos & videos, awesome food, and good music, you are going to have a great wedding. As much as you spend time on the little details, those are the things guests will remember and appreciate, as well as you! In past experience, having an online excel or some running list of how much you are spending becomes very handy! This way you can keep track of what you spent, how much is left, and if/if not invoices have been paid! My last tip as well, you will run into unexpected expenses. No matter how well you plan and organize, things do happen and it will be okay! The best way to prepare for the unprepared is to have an emergency section of your budget that can go towards anything that might come up last minute! Another great use for this emergency fun is for gratuity for your vendors! Here is a great advice blog by TheKnot.com on all things gratuity for your vendors! https://www.theknot.com/content/wedding-vendor-tipping-cheat-sheet
I realize the dollar signs in your eyes right now might be overwhelming but breathe! It will all be O K! Wedding planning should be fun, and I will never my first bride kept saying “no matter what, I’m getting married!”