PHOTOGRAPHY BY ANAHI WEDDINGS
Once you’ve accepted the proposal, don’t spend a single dollar until you’ve figured out your wedding budget. Have a candid talk with anyone who might be contributing to politely find out how much each is willing to commit. Then add up the numbers for your total available amount, and set some guidelines for spending.
1. Figure out who’s contributing. Talk with your family members about who will pay for what. Some brides’ families stick with tradition and pick up most of the tab, but it’s more common nowadays for the bride’s family, the groom’s family, and the couple to all chip in together. However, in some cases, a family member will commit to financing a certain part such as the cake, catering, or flowers.
2. Get organized. Depending on the date you’ve set for the wedding, you’ll spend the next few months (or even years) allocating and keeping track of funds. Start by organizing your money details in a single place. Keep copies and file these items together: (1) photos and clippings of ideas and inspiration, so you can pull them out when you meet with vendors; (2) all vendors and their contact information; (3) copies of vendors’ proposals/estimates plus notes from your meetings with them; (4) copies of all vendor contracts; and, (5) all receipts for wedding expenses, so you can stay on top of your budget.
3. Set up a system. Money-management tricks can be huge helpers. Place all your wedding money in its own separate bank account, so you can easily track deposits and withdrawals without mixing or confusing them with non-wedding-related expenditures. Don’t make the mistake of using your regular bank account and assuming you’ll be able to keep score.
4. Decide your priorities. Consider all the possible categories of spending for your dream wedding: bridal gown and formal wear; ceremony site and officiant; invitation printing and addressing; postage; reception venue; transportation; rentals; food; beverages; cake; flowers; decorations; music; entertainment; photographer; videographer; honeymoon, and miscellaneous (Don’t omit that last one. See #8 and #9.) Pick the top three of importance to you, and allocate extra money for those. Then choose the three least important, and allocate a little less for them (or eliminate them altogether). As you check vendor prices for what you have in mind, be prepared to adjust upward or downward depending on what matters more to you and your fiancé.
5. Be crystal-clear about your budget. Specify your price ranges to vendors from the very start. Being frank about your price point will eliminate surprises when the time comes to sign a contract.
6. Be flexible. Saturday nights are always more costly than other weekdays or times of day, particularly during “high wedding seasons” like June and July. Therefore, understand that the date and time you set for your event will affect your budget more than most other factors.
7. Utilize double-duty. By all means, take the ceremony flowers along to the reception site, or arrange to share the cost (and design) of wedding decorations with the couple marrying directly before or after you that day. No one will know unless you tell them. To save on rental costs, borrow beautiful serving pieces and accessories, appoint a trusted friend or relative to be in charge of reception set-up and take-down. One of the ways you can personalize (and reduce the cost of ) your wedding reception is to use familiar objects, including tablescapes and furniture pieces, from your own home as decorations. Think of what sets you and your fiance apart from other couples; then capitalize on that hobby, activity, or personality trait in your décor.
8. Ask about hidden costs. Inquire upfront about any other costs such as taxes, service charges, and overtime fees, and make sure all written vendor estimates include those charges in the contract. Knowing all the possible expenses in advance will guarantee that your budget can cover them, saving possible embarrassment.
9. Don’t forget the extra costs. Accept the fact that unforeseen expenditures are sure to arise. Small, easy-to-overlook details like marriage license fees, stamps for invitations and RSVP cards, ribbons for party favors, or candles for the dinner table can really add up. To be prepared, “pad” your expense sheet in a couple of different categories so that unexpected costs won’t derail your budget.
10. Plan to overspend. If you plan for unforeseen expenses beforehand, you won’t ever actually blow your budget. Earmark about five percent of your overall budget for unplanned costs which may be incurred through emergencies or additions. It’s always better to overestimate and underspend than the opposite.