What is the most important factor for your wedding? The answer to this question is the same answer for the question of, what is the least fun part of your wedding? Do you know what it is? If you guessed the budget, you nailed it! So, let’s break this down a little more, because believe me when I tell you this is 100% the most crucial part of your wedding because, without this (the money), all of the magic doesn’t happen.
The heart of your wedding is, obviously, the love you share with your partner. Without that, there would be no start to life for your wedding day, even if you have been creating a vision and Pinterest boards for years, or if you are Monica Geller, the very large binder with multiple wedding scenarios. The budget is the backbone of your wedding. Without a support system, it all falls apart. (Planner plug: I like to view the wedding planner as the brain. It keeps all of the working pieces on track and makes sure they are doing what they are supposed to be doing. Can you imagine going through life without a brain?)
Okay, back to the budget. I know how exciting it is to start thinking about your colors, what your dress will look like, who you are going to ask to be in your wedding party, and how many different angles you can photograph your ring from. It should be exciting! You just got engaged and are about to start a new chapter in your life. But before you start designing your invitations, you need to sit down and talk numbers with your partner. Will you two be paying for the wedding yourselves? If so, how much are you both comfortable spending and what can you afford? Will your parents or family members be helping? Will they cover the entire bill or just a portion? Do you need to ask them and if you do, how do you ask? Will you get a loan? Where do you go for that and how much can you qualify for?
It may be hard but look at it as training of sorts. Your marriage will involve a lot of discussions about money. Money is the cause of a lot of marital disputes, so get comfortable talking about it now because it isn’t going away. Be honest with each other about your comfort levels and if you have family footing the bill, you need to be just as involved in the expense of things as you would be had it been coming from your own pocket.
Another thing to consider when setting the budget is how realistic is the one you have set? I have lost count on how many clients come to me and say, “I had no idea a wedding would cost this much” or “Is this a normal price for food/music/dress/invites/etc.?” Sticker shock can be a real thing when wedding vendor shopping. You need to be prepared that your venue and catering will take up about 50% of your budget. Photography and Videography can also take up a good portion of the budget, especially if you are investing in an experienced, skilled wedding photographer in the style you prefer. So, when setting your budget, be prepared and okay with having wiggle room. You can achieve this by knowing your max budget and then going 15-20% less than that number. If you are completely lost as to where to start, then ask someone or hire a professional who can guide you through it.
Why do you need wiggle room and flexibility? Because you will come across something while planning that you want to spend more for or something that you didn’t want before but now you do. The majority of couples I work with end up increasing their budget for something, whether it be for lighting and floral centerpieces to help transform the space and bring their vision to life, the extra out of town family members that were not planning to come, except now they are, or to include planning services because they realized how in over their heads they are. It is okay to change the budget around, but you need to know your priorities.
So, before you dig down on the money talk, determine your priorities and how you want the day of your wedding to feel and run. Is it your top priority to ensure you have a plated meal for everyone or do you absolutely have to have this one venue, no matter what? Then focus on the feel of your wedding. Do you want to encourage mingling, ensure people get on the dance floor, and have a wedding that your friends and family members will be dying to tell everyone about? Do you want a touching ceremony that includes a special tribute to lost loved ones? All of these things are vital to know when setting your budget and it will help determine how realistic that budget is.
So what do you do now? You sit down with your partner and talk. Find out where the money is coming from, make the asks, and then get to work on determining what is important to you for your wedding. Think about it and be realistic. It’s all about communicating and making sure you are comfortable with the decisions you are making, together. Even if you have a partner who just wants to be told where to go and when to walk, keep them in the conversation. You may hit on something that ends up being a priority for them.
Thank you so much for sticking with me until the end. I know this was not a fun topic. But trust me when I tell you, having this worked out before you start anything makes life so much easier. Now go forth and tackle your budget!