How to Create a Wedding Budget & Have Fun With It
Congratulations! If you are reading this article, it probably means you are engaged and planning your wedding. Our goal is to help you do it without going into debt. According to the Bridal Association in America in 2006, the average cost of a wedding in America will be approximately $27,000 in 2007. Although some couples choose to spend even more on a wedding, most of us do not have or may not be willing to spend close to $30,000 on one day.
Although your wedding day will be one of the most memorable days of your life, keep in mind that you will have a lifetime of memorable days with your husband or wife to be. Have fun with your budget. Think of it as being creative instead of being cheap.
Below are a few tips and ideas to help you create the perfect wedding for you and your fiance while staying within your means.
Set a Budget!
Be realistic and set a budget you can and will stick to. It can be based on a percentage of your current savings or your monthly income. If you don't have the funds already saved up, feel free to set up a wedding account with your fiance and commit to contributing a percentage of your income every month. You will be surprised by how much you can save over a period of time.
Take the budget and prioritize!
A helpful tool may be an online wedding budget calculator or a wedding planning guide book.
Determine what the top 5 things you care about are, prioritize them and allot a budget. One of the most popular is probably "THE GOWN", other priorities include photography, flowers, food, music, number of guests,venue location, stationary, hair and makeup and of course bridal gifts and favors.
If your parents will be paying for the wedding, you can ask them what their budget is. For some, the reception may not be as high of a priority as life after the wedding. If parents offer to contribute $20,000, consider only spending $15,000 and put the extra $5,000 towards new furniture or even a nicer car. Who knows, you can always decide to elope and use the entire fund towards a down payment on a house!
Keep your eye on the ball!
Everyone will have her moment of weakness and run into an item that is not in her budget but she just can't live without. If that happens to you and it's a small percentage of your budget, indulge yourself, but don't forget to remove a few stems of flowers from each of those centerpieces you had your heart set on. Your willingness to compromise will be the key to how successful you are at sticking to your budget. You don't necessarily need to compromise on quality. Many times, you can simply compromise on the color, or quantity of an item, but still get the quality you are looking for.
For example, instead of having a five course meal, make it 3 or even 2 courses instead. Or instead of hiring a mediocre photographer for 8 hours, hire a great one for 5 hours instead. Another option is always to select a smaller package.
It never hurts to ask. People in the wedding industry are usually quite familiar with budgets and are willing to work with you. This holds especially true with photographers, florists and wedding venues. Always remember to be respectful. Never underestimate the power of flattery. People are much more likely to help you out if you appreciate the quality if their work than if you criticize it. Explain your situation and maybe your florist will throw in a flower girl basket and lend you some accessories. A little research can go a long way as well. Find out what level of service or quality of product you are looking for. Find the industry average for it and ask to have it for a little less, very nicely of course. Never aim too low, anyone who takes pride in what they do will be insulted and are less likely to want to work with you.
Beware of Seasons and Location!
Choose flowers that are in season or a venue during its off season. For example, if your dream is to have ab each wedding, have one in October when it's still relatively warm (at least in California) and it will be a lot less expensive than having it in July. Seasonal and local flowers are always a lot less expensive as well. Keep an open mind and listen to the advice of professionals you have chosen to work with. You will find that when you find the right people to work with and build a relationship with them, they do have your best interests at heart.
Find a location just outside of a major metropolitan city so that hotel rooms for guests who should not be driving home will be more affordable. With the money you've been saving, you may even be able to pay for a few of those hotel rooms!
Don't be afraid to ask for favors. Most of the time, you will find that people will feel honored to be asked to contribute their talents and connections to your special day. When I got married, my new brother in law's best friend who is a DJ was more than happy to provide his services as a wedding gift to me and my husband. You can also borrow a friend or family member's accessories. Something simple like shoes or a veil can be very costly when purchased new, but you can most likely find someone who has one just stored away in her closet and will be more than happy to lend it to you as your "something borrowed".
Go to sample sales. Many bridal galleries hold sample sales to replace last season's styles or to relieve themselves of excess inventory. You will find many gowns that have only been tried on once or twice and are being sold at a discount of as much as 70% off. Be Creative!
Find multiple uses for the same product. Reuse your flowers from your ceremony for your reception or use favors that can be used as your centerpiece as well.
One of the most unexpected expenses many couples forget to budget for is their alcohol tab. This of course is always dependent on your guest list. Instead of having an open bar, it is much more cost effective to just serve unlimited wine and beer.
It is vital not to feel that you have to do everything your friend or family member did at his or her wedding. If music isn't your thing, hire a DJ instead of a band or orchestra. If you like simple arrangements, create single stem bouquets for your bridesmaids and you can even use the money towards helping them with their dresses. Just because your friend had her wedding at the Ritz Carlton, it doesn't mean you can't have a more suitable wedding for you and your fiance at a park. Be yourself and don't be pressured into doing anything you or your fiance are not comfortable with.
Your wedding day will be what you make of it. Remember to always respect your fiance, your families and your friends. After all, a wedding is all about celebrating this momentous occasion with the people you care about most. Arguing or ruining relations over it defeats the whole purpose. Stay positive and keep an optimistic outlook about planning your wedding and the big day itself. Things are bound to go wrong, even with most careful execution. How you deal with it will either make it a positive memory you can laugh about or one that can ruin your day. Even the most expensive or beautiful wedding is meaningless unless you have a great time sharing it with the people you love and care about.