So you are engaged and excited to get going on planning your wedding. You want to call everyone you know, assure them all they will be invited, start a vision board, etc. etc. etc. My recommendation as a professional wedding planner is ……
STOP!!!!! Do not take another step or send another email or start buying anything until you have done one critical thing - - ESTABLISH THE BUDGET
A lot of couples and their families ask me –
“What is the right amount to spend on a wedding?”
“If we spend X will we be cheap?”
“Who should be paying for what?”
The truth is, wedding budgets come in all sizes and each one is unique.
The wedding budget that is “right” meets this day-after test:
You (and everyone who contributed funds) say - - “AH, that was wonderful!” - YAY your budget passed the test.
If you (or anyone who contributed funds) say “OMG, I can’t believe we spent that much!” or “How am I going to pay off that debt? “ - UGH your budget failed the test.
Many families are not comfortable talking about money in any circumstance, then throw in the emotions of a wedding and the expectations set by the industry, your friends, etc. and you can easily over commit. This is not the time to be shy or hesitant, discussing and establishing a firm budget up front is critical to having everyone enjoy the wedding.
The key is to take these steps ASAP:
Determine who is contributing money.
For each contributor, find out how much they are willing to spend.
Find out if there are strings attached to the money. Examples I’ve heard include – this money is to be used for flowers, this money can only be used if you have a church ceremony, this money can only be used to pay for my friends on the guest list, etc.
Decide how will the money be controlled. Will it be deposited into a wedding account? Is it completely controlled by one person or do multiple people need to agree on what and when it is spent?
Set aside a contingency fund out of the total budget – keep 10-15% for things you can’t know or plan.