Planning a Wedding Budget
Planning a Wedding: Set up a wedding budget and stay organized.
Winter may not be the most popular time to get married, but this is certainly a busy time for couples planning a wedding later this year. An engagement should be savored, but, as anyone who has planned a wedding knows, it also can be a stressful time. Staying organized will help you enjoy these days–and have the wedding of your dreams, within your wedding budget.
Here are some tips on getting started: Wedding Planning 101.
It’s not exactly romantic, but the first, and most important step in planning a wedding, is establishing a wedding budget.
Traditionally, the bride’s family was responsible for almost all the wedding costs. Many weddings still are planned this way, but it is increasingly common for the expenses to be shared among the bride’s and groom’s parents and the couple.
Without the guidelines of tradition to follow, good communication becomes even more important. The bride and groom should discuss the wedding budget openly, albeit diplomatically, with their families. No one should feel pressured to contribute.
Parents may offer a certain sum. Or they may prefer to pay for something specific, such as the music, photographer or gown. If this is the case, it’s still important to discuss numbers — the price difference between two bands, for example, could be thousands of dollars.
The wedding budget can be broken down into six categories: reception, bride’s attire, music, photography, flowers and miscellaneous. As a rough guide, plan on devoting about 50 percent of your budget to the reception (which includes the site, food, drink, rentals, service and the cake) and 10 percent each to the other categories. These percentages are flexible, of course, but they do provide a good starting point.
As you work on the wedding budget, think about the kind of wedding you want. Begin by describing what you envision in general terms: romantic, sophisticated, fun, old-fashioned, modern, intimate, traditional.
Then think about how to achieve that effect. Is the wedding big or small? Formal or casual? Held during the day or night? At home, or in a restaurant or hotel? These most basic decisions determine both the feeling of the wedding and the cost.
Use a custom-made wedding planner to keep track of all the details. In a loose-leaf binder or accordion file, create a different section for every aspect of your wedding, from wedding budget, to gift registry, to bridesmaid dresses. Fill it with pictures, ideas, notes, proposals, fabric swatches, receipts and contracts.
A bridal consultant is by no means a necessity, but having a professional’s help makes wedding planning much easier. This service may seem like a luxury, but a consultant will make sure you don’t exceed your wedding budget. And don’t forget how much time he or she will save you, which is what makes this service most valuable to a busy bride.
A consultant may charge a percentage of the overall wedding budget (15 percent is common) or a flat or hourly fee. As with most wedding services, a referral from someone you trust is a great way to find a good bridal consultant. You also can call the Association of Bridal Consultants for the names of professionals in your area.
The wedding reception is the single biggest expense, which also means it’s where you can save the most. Instead of a sit-down dinner, have a lunch buffet or a breakfast, brunch, tea or cocktail party. Look into sites such as public gardens, parks and universities, which are often less expensive than traditional wedding venues.
Whatever you decide to plan for your wedding, just make sure that you plan ahead, and have a wedding budget to follow.