By Carrie Stadtmueller, Content Conductor
Ok, now that you have said “Yes” - what’s the next step?
Of course, everyone really wants to fast forward to all of the fun stuff – cake tastings, Pinterest surfing for reception decor, finding the perfect dress - but the best and smartest next step should be setting and sticking to your wedding budget.
We know. This next step can be a real B.
Whether you’re working with $100 or $100,000 (wow, wouldn’t that be a dream??), the general guidelines are the same.
First Things First – Think about what kind of wedding you want
This might be the easiest part of the whole process. Perhaps you’ve been dreaming about your wedding day since you were a little girl. But, if not - it’s time to get to work.
Now is the time to have those conversations with your partner and see if you are both on the same page when it comes to the kind of wedding that you both want. There are so many different kinds of weddings out there - do you both want the same kind of wedding?
Perhaps your dream wedding is traditional, but theirs is a destination elopement. Or would you prefer low key and relaxed instead of their formal and high class?
This is where you need to start. Planning a wedding can put a lot of stress on a relationship. Make sure you are both on the same page before moving forward. This may mean making some compromises.
Figure Out Who Will Be Contributing
Once you have decided what kind of wedding you will be planning, now decide how you plan to pay for it. Will you and your partner be covering most of the cost? Or will your families be helping?
Whatever the case, finding out who might be contributing to your wedding is a good first step when you’re calculating your overall budget.
It’s most helpful if you can get a handle on a nice “round” number or perhaps what aspect of the event the party will be covering. For example - will the groom’s family be paying for the rehearsal dinner as is tradition? Or perhaps you have a devoted Aunt who really wants to help cover the retainer for the photographer as part of her wedding gift.
These conversations can be awkward, but they will be helpful in the long run as you make large financial decisions.
Crunch, Crunch, Crunch the Numbers - Including Your Number of Guests
Now is where the the math comes in and where you need to get serious about figuring out how much you have to actually spend.
Figure out how much you can realistically and comfortably spend.
This is also the time where you will want to start making your guest list. The number of guests you intend to invite will ultimately have an effect on your budget’s bottom line. Looking at your wedding as a “per-person” expenditure will help with this process.
Take this number and begin negotiations
By now, you and your partner will be pros at compromising and negotiating - especially if you had differing opinions on what your “dream wedding” looked like. Use those skills to negotiate what items to prioritize when it comes to staying within your budget.
Make it an exercise - each of you can pick two things that are at the top of your wedding priority list. Budget for those items. Everything else is extra until the budget is maxxed out.
Savvy Brides Do Their Research
There are a lot of hidden costs when it comes to weddings. Savvy brides do their research and find ways to save money. Even smarter brides realize that hiring a wedding planner can ultimately help you save money in the long run. (see this link on why you should hire a wedding planner). Wedding planners provide so much business to vendors, they are often able to negotiate discounts for their clients. They are also well versed at helping couples set budgets and are masters at sticking to them.
At the end of the day…..
One thing to remember - at the end of the day, the most important thing is that you will be married to the love of your life. It won’t matter if you have steak and shrimp or the most expensive dress. What matters is that you will be together.
Don’t start out your new life together drawing in debt. You can still plan a beautiful and memorable wedding on a much smaller and affordable scale. There are ways to plan a champagne wedding on a beer budget - you just have to get creative. You focus on the feeling of the event, instead of the price tag.
Here are some practical tips as you start planning:
Again, remember - its who you’re marrying and the memories you make together that are important, not the wedding and the money you spend.
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