Updated: Mar 2
So, chances are your wedding will be the first major event you will be planning as a couple and you don’t have to do it alone. This is where a great wedding planner becomes a smart investment. The first thing to consider is obviously your vision, are you an easy-going beach bride or are you more of a luxury bride? Either way the cost of weddings (and all things related) may surprise you. While you expect to pay for things such as flowers, bands and photographers there are lots of things less glamorous things that come into play. Have you thought about chairs for the ceremony, the setup of those chairs, trash removal, service staff, permits, the list goes on. A wedding planner can give you tips on how and where to save a few bucks but how do you determine your budget from the get-go without sacrificing your dream wedding vision?
Back to Your Vision…
This is the part you may already know. Do you and your partner want a simple beach side ceremony with your closest friends and family? Or a huge ballroom fete with the whole nine? A fancy dinner with a dance party?
There is so much inspiration that it can get overwhelming. Don’t let Pinterest or any other blog or wedding sites fool you. So many of the images we swoon over are simply staged for the photographs. Dripping florals, hundreds of candles on each table, flower walls, gorgeous accessories. Not that you can’t have all these things but it’s kinda my job to manage your expectations especially when it comes to budget. We just need to be realistic. Whether your budget is $10k or $100K, you can have the wedding of your dreams you just need to prioritize.
How to Prioritize…
Pick your top 3 priorities for the wedding day, here are a few that I see quite often:
Great Cocktail Party Menu
Late Night Food
Lots of Flowers
Having a great photographer/ videographer
A specific venue
The Guest List
Now let’s visit the guest list, this takes time. You and your partner need to sit and write this list together and perhaps share with your parents if appropriate. Revisit a few times before you consider it firm. I have found that the guests list can be a roller coaster for a couple of weeks until you really decide who made the cut.
Start the Budget
Now it’s time to sit with your planner and review the budget. Is it feasible to have a formal 4 course dinner with a live band for 250 of your closest friends and family with a $15k budget, probably not?
This is where things get real.
If your original plans and numbers don’t match after doing some research, let’s re-evaluate. You have options but you need to refer back to your priorities list, maybe you cut the guest list or opt for an awesome DJ instead of the 8 piece band. Can you change the type of venue or overall vibe of your wedding to make it fit your budget? Can you DIY or even remove some things? Choose an off-season date or a Friday or Sunday? Order invitations online?
It’s often an eye-opening experience but one that should not be taken lightly. The last thing you want to do it stress about finances during your engagement season. We don’t all have huge budgets and that’s totally ok, we work with what you are comfortable spending. In my career I have seen brides and grooms go into debt before they are married (against my judgement) so they can have their “dream wedding”. I promise you, it’s not the best way to start off a marriage. It can be tempting with an extra $500 here or $1000 there but it adds up, quickly I might add! A wedding planner will know the best vendors in your area and where they fall in terms of pricing, trust their judgement and expertise.
Create a Spreadsheet- and refer to it often. List out each item, the estimated cost, modified cost and the actual cost. Make sure to leave room for tax and service charge.
Items to include:
Personals Flowers (bouquets, boutonnieres, wristlets, hairpieces, petals)
Table Centerpieces and Candles (Cocktail Party and Dinner Tables)
Ceremony Set Up
Music for Ceremony
Music for Cocktail Party
Music for Reception
Wedding Cake/ Dessert
Rentals (China, Flatware, Stemware, Tents with Accessories, Tables, Chairs, Ceremony Chairs, Heaters, Dance Floor, Lighting, Restrooms)
Venue (ceremony and reception)
Paper (Invitations, Place Cards, Save the Dates, Postage, Calligraphy)
Accessories (Signs, Accent Pieces, Additional Lighting, Draping, Furniture Rentals)
Staffing (Set Up, Breakdown, Service, Bartenders)
Permits and Licenses
Hair and Makeup (Include Mani, Pedi, Tanning)
Gown and Alterations
Setting a budget can definitely be one of the most challenging tasks you and your partner will face, but it’s so important to get it right and set yourselves up for success.
I urge you to take the time, sit with your planner and create an in-depth wedding budget at the very beginning of the planning process, keeping the above tips in mind.
And most importantly don’t forget the most important part of the wedding, the union between you and your partner and that my friends is priceless!
Another great resource by the trusted wedding guru, Martha Stewart