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Contracts and Money and Budgets, Oh My!

There aren’t many aspects of wedding planning that I don’t like. I love pretty much all things wedding . . . except talking to the bride and groom about the budget. It isn’t that I have a problem with wedding budgets, it’s that most couples-to-be don’t truly understand two things. ONE, how much those Pinterest picture perfect pins really cost, and TWO, how to actually plan a wedding budget.

Most of the time when I sit down with a couple and ask them what their budget is, I get something similar to “well we don’t really know” or ” I think” or “we haven’t really talked about it”. That is where my job as a wedding planner really begins. Educating the couple on the budget. Why is this really that important? Because absolutely everything, EVERYTHING, in wedding planning revolves around the budget from the number of guests you invite, to the food you choose, to the car you drive away in at the end of the evening. Everything boils down to the dreaded dollar sign.

So, what do you need to know going in to the budget meeting?

  • Who is paying for the wedding? Just the bride and groom or are your parents (or someone else) helping with the costs? If there are other contributors, sit down with them and find out EXACTLY how much they plan to contribute and when (and how) they plan to give you the funds. Trust me, it matters!

  • Decide as a couple if you are paying or contributing to the event EXACTLY how much you want, and can afford, to spend. But be honest! If you can afford $10,000 that is fine, if you can swing $100,000 that is fine too. But once you REALISTICALLY decide on the amount you can afford. Plan to stick to that amount. PERIOD. The biggest stressors my clients have is when they decide on a budget and then knowingly go over that amount by choosing “upgrades they just saw and have to have” when they can’t really afford to. Yes, I do advise my clients when it looks like they might go over their budget and almost always advise against it (unless there is a truly valid reason), but it is the client’s choice if and when they choose to go over their budget. So choose to stay within your set amount and then stick to it.

  • Be honest about your budget with your wedding planner! If a client tells me they can spend $25,000 on a wedding but can really only afford half that, both the couple and I will be stressing later when the contracts start coming in. But if everyone is on an even playing field from the start, three-quarters of the money battle is solved right from the start.

  • Every piece of the wedding planning cake takes a portion of the budget. For example typically invitations and stationery is 2-3% of the wedding budget. If your budget is $10,000 and you plan to stick to the 2% that means you will have a $200 budget for the invitations, enclosure cards, announcements, postage and calligraphy. Obviously that isn’t a big amount of money to cover a large number of items. SO . . . IF you are on a limited budget, PICK YOUR BATTLES. If the stationary is a must have item, raise the percentage you plan to spend on the invitations. BUT you have to lower another area of spending. This is a must! If you aren’t willing to work your budget for you it will certainly work against you!

  • Almost every bride and groom I have ever worked with has wanted all their friends to join in their special day, and why wouldn’t they! However, keep in mind that each person you add to the guest list essentially dictates the cost of the wedding. For every 10 guests that you invite, you might plan on 10 chairs, 10 chair covers, 10 sashes, 1 table, 1 table-cloth, 1 overlay or table runner, 1 centerpiece, 3 to 6 candles, 10 meals and 10 favors. That doesn’t sound like much but that can average out to $60 per person, and one table would be roughly $600. At the same rate, having 200 guests could be 12,000. And that is before the ceremony costs and the dress! So how do you narrow the guest list? That is our next blog topic . . .

  • Choose the very best vendors you can afford. You have probably heard the saying that you get what you pay for. Well the same is true in the event industry. I had a client a couple of years ago that hired a very low-cost photographer against my advise. At the time this is being published, she still doesn’t have the pictures from her wedding. So while she saved on the cost of the photographer, it would have been better to have chosen a reputable photographer and had her wedding images. That being said what you pay for better be worth it regardless the amount.

  • Finally, hiring a wedding planner is an additional expense that you might think is just a chunk out of your budget that you can’t afford to spend. However, if a wedding planner is worth “his or her salt” as my grandmother used to say, your planner will get you discounts with the vendors he/she uses regularly, saving you money with each vendor your hire and you end up with an expert planner and top of the line vendors for the same amount you originally budged for. You can’t beat that!

So in conclusion, wedding budgets aren’t the enemy, they are actually a tool to keep your planning process stress free and your family happy! Use your budget and your planner to your advantage and plan an amazing event, one that you can afford!

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