Thursday, August 22, 2013

Wedding Planning Quick Tips: Budget

Organizing the Beast

You're engaged! Congratulations! You may be wondering where you should begin with the daunting task of planning a wedding. If you look into any wedding planning books or websites they all say to start with your budget. It's easy to get sucked into the decor ideas (Pinterest doesn't help), wedding dress pictures, and fun DIY projects but your first focus needs to be setting your budget.

The First Thing You Need to Do

Sit down with your parents, your fiance, and whoever else is contributing and talk over money. This can be awkward and uncomfortable when you're talking numbers that could buy a house, a car, and a shiny new Louis Vuitton you only see on the runway.

In Your First Discussion

It seems ridiculous to pick an obscure number out of the air and base the next 6 - 12 (in my case 16) months on it. In this first chat simply go over your dreams for the day. Talk about ideas that you've thought of and a timeline. In this meeting pick your date, pick your wedding party, and pick your colors. This will influence the budget because of the time of year, amount of people involved, and type of setting you want.

The national average cost of a wedding in the U.S. is rounding closer to $30,000.00 in 2013. That doesn't mean that yours will be that outrageous and make sure to not see that as the only option.

Pick Your "Must Haves" and "Would Like, But Could Live Without"

"Must Haves" - This is your personal list. Take some time to think about what you really want on your big day. Go to a coffee shop by yourself and look up weddings that inspire you. Pick out your top things you would regret not having. For me, this was food. I wanted to have a memorable meal that would be distinct, delicious, and filling. Another was my photographer. I had to have wonderful pictures with a unique style but that captured moments not poses.

This list is all your own. What do you feel the strongest about? The food, music, church or venue, flowers, cakes, desserts, or decorations? Choose five that are the most important to you.

"Would like, but could live without" - This list will be the things you've seen that would be fun and are great ideas, but if they don't happen you wouldn't be upset. Things that are add-ons like photobooths, guest favors, and extra decorations. Also, choose five of these that you would like to see happen.

Have Your Fiance and Parents Make a "Must Have" List

It's your big day but if your family is helping cover costs they need a say too. Your fiance may want somethings too but may be too shy to speak up. My fiance wanted a slide show video of us. I honestly wouldn't have done it had he not asked! Make sure they feel included in this process and that you'll take their lists to heart as well.

Lay out your list, his, and your parents and rank them of importance. Pick the top five between all lists. These will ultimately be your "big spender" items. 

Get Quotes From Your "Top Five" Lists

Contact a minimum of 3 places for each item on your list. For example say this was your top five list.
  1. Food - Caterer for dinner
  2. Photographer
  3. Venue
  4. Flowers
  5. Cake
Take each item on your list on contact 3 local places that you might be interested in. I suggest using for their vendor reviews. They have real brides reviews and all the contact information you would need.

This process might take a week so make sure to schedule time for emails and phone calls. 

FYI They will want to know your date and a rough number of guests (always go high)

After you get quotes back you can make an educated guess how much your "must haves" will cost. Once you have that number it will be easy to determine where the rest of your spending costs will fall.

Pick a Number

It can feel like a gamble when you’re talking numbers this high but if you break it down into categories you will come up with a close and reasonable final budget. Use the quotes you have to break down costs. This final number will be what you base a lot of your future decisions on.

Make an Excel Spread Sheet
This will become your best friend over the rest of your engagement. Keep track of as many expenses as possible. Not only will this help you track the exact amount of money you’ve spent but it will help keep you in the realm of your original budget. This is hard work and not to be taken lightly. If you let things slide you will over spend and over exert your resources that may later end up cutting something you really wanted off your "Would like"  list as in a photobooth or better decorations. Excel has a handy pre-formated "wedding budget" worksheet that you can customize to what you need. 

I used this for my own wedding and broke everything down into small categories so I knew where every penny was going. It was easy to make decisions on bigger items because I knew where I was in every other aspect of costs!

Do Not Get Stressed Out

This is the hardest part of the whole big picture and once it's done you will be able to enjoy the planning process with ease because you will have a firm grip on expenses. You will have a realistic view of what can be bought and what can wait for later.

Do not let this slide. I promise you keeping track will relieve all the stress in the end because there will be no surprises with costs.

When you're done. Go get a drink because you deserve it!  



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