Bride-to-be confession: I turn into a total giddy school girl the moment someone asks me about my wedding plans. No, seriously. Consider yourself warned! If you ask me how things are going regarding my wedding, you will get filled in on every single detail and, if you stick around long enough, I will pull out a picture of my dress and make you scroll through my Pinterest board (…here it is if you’re interested!)
Planning and all things wedding have been mostly stress free up to this point, and completely enjoyable! In fact, I’ve enjoyed it so much, I’ve entertained getting a job in the wedding industry! (Who wouldn’t want to make dreams come true for a living!?) The one thing that does make my palms sweat and my heart palpitate if I think about it too much is the green elephant in the room: money.
Saying “weddings sure are expensive” isn’t exactly a profound statement. I knew going into the planning process that prices could be steep, and I was also very aware of the unfortunate fact that I tend to be drawn toward the most expensive options. (I swear I could be in a thrift store and find the one $25 t-shirt on the rack!) But oh my goodness…weddings sure are expensive!
I knew I wanted to write about cost, money, budget, and the whole who-should-pay-for-what etiquette for my Wedding Wednesdays series, but it’s a lot to tackle. For one, there isn’t really an exact science to it, and frankly it can be a sort of awkward conversation.
I know for me personally, money tends to fall into the religion, politics, beliefs, sports, and the general do-not-talk-about category. So, to start, I just want to drive home the point that your wedding should be fun, it should be what you and your spouse-to-be want it to be. It does not however, have to put you into debt, and if it does, it’s your business, and yours only! That being said, let’s talk money.
The budget is probably the most important aspect of your wedding, because it serves as a very helpful guideline for you, and for your vendors. I did notice, however, that the budget can, at times, be a chicken-or-the-egg sort of puzzle. What I mean by that is, sometimes I wouldn’t know how much to budget for something, say flowers, because I had no idea how the price of wedding flowers ran. Therefore, I would sometimes research and get quotes before setting a budget. On the other hand, there were aspects of the wedding on which I knew I didn’t want to spend a lot. In those cases, I looked for options and or vendors that were at or below the amount I wanted to spend. So, after all that rambling, the ultimate questions are: How do you set a budget? and Who Pays!?
Prioritize: Figure out what’s most important to you; flowers? DJ? Venue? Food? This can help you get a rough idea of what percentage of your budget you want to allocate to which aspects of your big day.
Research: Research vendors in your area and figure out the most expensive options, the least expensive, and those in between. Also, read reviews and decide if it’s worth splurging, or if people were just as satisfied with the more wallet friendly options.
Consider Cost Saving Measures: The two things that immediately jump out in my mind that can radically reduce cost are ceremony date and size of the guest list. The time of year, and the day of the week on which you hold your ceremony and reception can greatly reduce or drive up costs. Consider what time of year works best for you, and if you could possibly have your wedding on a Friday or a Sunday. Also, although it’s a whole other elephant in the room, being able to narrow down your guest list a huge money saver. Other ways to save money would be to shop bridal gown sample sales, stay in season with your flowers, and keep dinner simple!
Decide Who’s Financing: This is huge. Your budget could change dramatically depending on who is paying for the wedding. Traditionally, various aspects of the wedding are paid for by different parties. For example, the groom’s family usually covers the rehearsal dinner. But, we all know that times are changing, and traditional means so many different things depending who you ask. So, who’s paying? Is it your parents? If so, you’re going to want to let them in on your visions, and plans for the big day. If you’re wanting 400 guests and a roof top ceremony at the trendy hotel downtown, the cost is going to vary greatly from an intimate church ceremony and a reception at the local hall. If your parents are paying for some, but you’re also chipping in, discuss what they are willing to contribute, or what services they would like to cover. This may not always be the most comfortable discussion, but you want to have it early on so everyone is on the same page, and you don’t run into any financial surprises later one. If you’re paying for it mostly out of your own pocket, then it mostly depends on what you as a couple are wanting to spend.
I’m sure one of things you’re asking yourself if you’re paying for some or all of the wedding is…how do I afford this!?
Set aside money (in a second account, if possible): Separate your wedding fund from your money for bills and everyday expenses. You don’t want to be tempted to use it for other purposes. I’ve even heard of people sticking a large amount of money into an account, and budgeting around it. Essentially, they put the entire sum of their wedding budget aside from the beginning, and plan within that amount. This is probably the most fool-proof way to budget if you can swing setting aside a large sum of money, and if you can trust yourself to not be tempted to spend over that amount. (…I would totally spend over the amount!)
Pick up hours: If you work an hourly job like I do, and if your work allows, pick up hours! It not only helps you better the skills pertaining to your job, you look ambitious, and you pocket some extra cash that can go straight into your wedding fund.
Get a second job: I know this sounds extreme, but I did! In addition to working as a nurse, I got a second job at a restaurant to help me pay for my wedding. It’s less stress than my main job, it’s close to my house, and I’m actually making some new friends (…and more money!) It’s been a win, win, win all around!
Cut back, don’t cut corners: Cut back on some extra expenses in your life, but don’t completely cut corners! For instance, if you like to get coffee every morning, maybe do McDonald’s instead of Starucks, or buy fancy Kcups for your at home brewer. Don’t completely deprive yourself, but maybe try out some financially healthy changes that could stick even after the big day!
I hope this post was helpful, because I know money can be the source of a lot of frustration and stress. At the end of they day, remember that your wedding is about the love between you and your future spouse, and that an amazing wedding can happen within any and all budgets! So, get planning, and get saving!