Lifestyle · Wedding

Money-wise Wedding Series (Pt. 1): setting a budget

Welcome back to the Money-wise Wedding Series, helping you get through the pains of planning without having to throw yourself into eternal debt. Last week I introduced myself, a newly married woman and as a wise spender. Yes, I am that person, the one who sifts through the weekly grocery ads and uses hand-clipped coupons at checkout. But my saving skills have proven to – literally – pay off in the long run. And although you don’t have to hire a financial adviser to plan your wedding, it is so important to plan ahead since this event will likely be one of the biggest purchases of your life.

Costs can add up quickly and little expenses like party favors and bridal party gifts sneak up on couples. Being prepared for these costs by creating a spending plan before choosing your vendors will ease up so much stress during the planning process. After all, you’re getting married to this person, meaning finances need to be discussed sooner or later. So, before you get ahead of yourself and book the all-inclusive castle on the hill, sit down with your fiance and use these questions to set limits and create a guide for wedding budgeting.

What are your must haves?
Both you and your fiance should compile a list of things that you absolutely must have at your wedding. For example, my husband and I agreed we wanted a venue that would hold an all-outdoor ceremony and reception. Our families also both enjoy cocktails so a venue where alcohol was permitted was a must. By discussing what you both absolutely can’t live without for your special day, you are setting the premise for what costs are less negotiable and prevent future disagreement by letting your partner know what’s important to you.

What can you live without?
Its easy to list the things that you would love to have at your wedding, but try thinking of some things you can factor out of the budget. Is a live band something you can do without? Would you be alright with smaller, DIY table centerpieces over large, fresh flowers? When you can decide on things you can cut out of your budget, you’ve already begun to slim down costs.

How much is the maximum you will spend for a purchase?
Start by researching what the price point is for the type of service provider you’re looking for. For example, if you want to get married at a country club, look at the average price of these venues in your area and then decide on the maximum price you’re willing to spend. The same goes for other major costs like cake, dress, caterer, etc.

What is the guest list like?
When cutting costs, the first item of business couples usually turn to is the guest list. Because most vendors base their price on the total headcount, narrowing this number down can save you hundreds (and even thousands) of dollars. Lets say your food caterer is charging $15 per person, your bartender charges about $10 per person and your baker quotes you at about $1.50 per person (these are really low estimates too, by the way). That’s at least $30 per person if you include extras like table place cards, thank you gifts and stationary. If you take just three people off of the list you’ve already cut down on almost $100. If your wedding bill is already making you sweat, it might be time to reconsider inviting your second cousin who you haven’t seen in 10 years.

Although setting a budget may seem daunting and the least romantic thing to do, it is one of the most important tasks of planning a wedding. Taking the time to sit down with your partner and discuss price points will be one of the best decisions you can make for your wedding planning process and for your financial future. And don’t stress if you think your guests will care if you use mason jars with baby’s breath as your centerpieces; your day will be beautiful regardless of the price of flowers you bought!

I look forward to seeing you here next week, where I’ll discuss the process of selecting vendors and how to get the most bang for your buck. Until then, enjoy a glass of champagne and all the engagement congratulations!


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