It’s time to talk about the sexiest topic… the budget.
More often than not, a wedding is the first time a couple has ever had to think about planning for a huge event, let alone creating a wedding budget. Basically, that means that lots of people start planning in a similar way. First, you think about the wedding you want. Then you think about how much you're comfortable spending, hoping REAL hard that the two concepts match up. The problem is it's almost impossible to know how much the wedding you're dreaming of will cost until you start getting to the nitty gritty of planning.
It's not that you'll get caught up in the expectations of the wedding industry and spend $2,000 on crystal vases. (Silly them. You would know better.) In reality? The culprit was that they thought chair rentals cost $1 when they really cost $2. Then it turns out that the only wedding photographers in their area who didn't call them "sweetie" during the initial meeting charged $3,000 instead of $2,500. Obviously, not being talked down to was worth an extra $500 in the budget. Next thing you know, the combined total of those surprises was $5,000 and rising!
Yes, we've all read tips and tricks on how to save money, how to have a budget wedding, even how to stick to the budget. But... how do we figure out what the budget is in the first place? Heeerree we go!
1. THINK ABOUT THE WEDDING YOU WANT TO HAVE
This portion might be what you've been doing since you've been 10 and you have a pinterest board for every little detail you can think of. If not, now is the time for you to do some dreaming. Do you want a picnic in the mountains or a huge shindig with all your family and friends? Do you want something casual or something closer to a queen's wedding? We often tell couples to think about weddings they've been to and come up with keywords to describe them. For example, you may want your wedding to be low key and relaxed like your cousin's last year - but a little more formal, while avoiding a stuffy feeling. You can get even more specific, think: "low-key ceremony, with a relaxed upbeat dance party, and a family-style dinner that feels casual but looks fancy-ish." WHEW!
2. CRUNCH SOME NUMBERS
Nobody likes talking money, but now is time to sit down with your partner to decide how much you are ready, willing, and comfortable spending on your wedding. Are other people contributing? This is the time to discuss with them what and how they will be helping. Sometimes, they will contribute a specific dollar amount and sometimes they will take care of a particular part of the wedding (up to a certain amount). Either way, it's important for you to know before you dive into budgeting and planning.
I know it's not the easiest or most comfortable to talk to family about money, but sometimes that bandaid needs ripping. Generally, I find it's helpful to start with the mindset that families may not be able to contribute, but you are asking because it's better to ask than to miss out. Something like, "Hey Mom, sweetie and I have been engaged for a few months now and we've decided to start thinking about planning the wedding. We were hoping for a laid back gathering for all the people who are closest to us. I thought we could discuss if you and Dad are willing and able to contribute in some monetary way, just on the off chance that you had thought about it. No need to answer yet, I know I've put you on the spot. Whatever you're able to offer would be beyond helpful."
Pro tip: planning 1+ year in advance is a great way to ease the pocketbook. Determine an amount to set aside every month to contribute to the final vendor payments.
Another number to crunch is your guest list. No matter what kind of wedding you're looking for, the amount of guests will make a huge impact on your budget. Get that excel spreadsheet out and start adding names.