Numbers. My number one sworn enemy. I concede their usefulness, but they trick me all the time, and I don’t like that. Nonetheless, they’re a part of everyday life. And they’re especially important to your wedding planning process. You may not realize it initially, but it turns out, numbers are hiding in every corner of your wedding. From guest numbers, to table numbers, to 5 piece band or 10 piece band, to the number of invites and programs you’ll need – numbers are everywhere!
But the very first number you need to think about? BUDGET! I cannot stress enough how important a budget is to your wedding planning process. Without it, you’ll easily end up spending way over what you ever thought possible. Weddings are great, but you don’t want to go bankrupt (or cause your parents to) just to celebrate your big day. So how should you go about setting this oh so important wedding budget? Glad you asked.
Step 1: The very first thing you need to do is decide who is going to pay for this shin dig. Personally, I don’t subscribe to “the bride’s parents always pay for the wedding” school of thought. It’s the 21st century, people. The tab can be paid in endless combinations: bride’s parents, groom’s parents, bride’s AND groom’s parents, you and your fiance, etc. Whoever is contributing, make sure you know exactly how much you will have to spend. This will keep you in check when someone tells you that you must have imported trees from Bali at your cocktail hour.
You don’t need this lovely tree from Bali.
Step 2: Once you know the absolute maximum you have to spend on this wedding (and not a penny more!), it’s helpful to break down all the categories of payments you’ll need to make and what percentage of your budget should be allotted for each category. For example, you should allot about 50% of your budget for the reception. This includes venue, food, drinks, tables, chairs, bartenders, waiters, cake etc. Real Simple Wedding Budget Worksheet is a good site that can help you put together your budget. The Knot also has a really great budget calculator that automatically does the math for you! Make sure to leave a little extra wiggle room in your budget for gratuities, taxes, and any little extras you may pick up along the way.
Step 3: This might be the most important rule. STICK TO YOUR BUDGET! As you plan, you will come across vendors whose work you will fall in love with, but ultimately can’t afford. This happens. It’s heartbreaking, but you will survive. To avoid such heartbreak, try not to research (and especially don’t contact!) vendors you know are out budget. There’s always room to negotiate, but don’t expect a photographer with packages starting at $5,000 to lower his price to $2,000 just for you. It ain’t gonna happen.
Treat your budget like your bible. It will be the guiding force behind all your wedding planning choices. And don’t be disappointed if the cherry blossom centerpieces you want (sigh) won’t happen.
There will always be a way to make your vision a reality within your means. And even if there isn’t, don’t fret. Remember what this day is all about – you’re marrying your dream guy! And that’s worth more than all the cherry blossom centerpieces in the world.