Let’s be real – planning a wedding is stressful but paying for a wedding cranks it up to 11. After all, how often are any of us throwing an all-day shindig for 100 or so of our nearest and dearest? It’s new territory so unfortunately, you are likely to stumble along the way if you don’t have a good map to guide you. Sure, there are budget spreadsheets but how do you know if you’re making the right decision or not? Where to splurge and where to cut back?
Well, intrepid explorer, here is a compass for you: 5 Budget Blunders that are oh-so-common yet easily avoided. Implement these strategies and turn your stress level down to 4.
1.Not Having a Budget – seems like a no-brainer but it’s surprising how many people start planning their wedding without a solid amount of money allotted to pay for it all. Before you think of a date or start putting together a guest list, GET YOUR BUDGET SORTED. This is your map, your cornerstone, your North Star. Did I mention how important it is? Sit down and have a very frank and realistic discussion with all involved about how much is being contributed and is 100% confirmed. Notice the word “confirmed”. I recently had a couple who were counting on the bride’s father to pay for everything. Three weeks before the wedding, he told them he wasn’t able to pay for anything after all. Nada. Zippo (cue stress level hitting 11). Luckily, they had money saved that covered most of what they’d envisioned but we still had to scramble to cut back on a number of things. Trust me, you don’t want to be put into this situation. Figure out your finances first.
2. Guest List Gone Wild – more people = more expenses. Simple as that. Every person is another meal, another bar bill, another chair, etc. Ballpark how much food and drink is per person (let’s say $100) to give you a rough idea of how much your guests are going to cost you. Those five co-workers with their significant others just cost you $1,000 for food and drink. Plus you’ll need another table with linens, napkins, chargers, floral arrangement, seating cards. Adds up pretty quickly, no? Be realistic with your guest list. If you can afford 50 people, don’t invite 100 hoping half don’t show up. Draw a line in the sand and don’t deviate from it – be it no co-workers, no children, no 2nd-cousins onward, whatever you decide is the cutoff mark. Everyone, no matter how big their budget, still has to cut the guest list.
3. Tanking on the Timeline – that old saying haste makes waste? So, so true. Leaving things to the last minute racks up the expenses with rush fees, not to mention the incredible amount of stress it causes. Vendors want to help make your wedding wonderful but if you’re expecting them to drop everything for you, there is a cost for it (you’re not their only clients, after all). Follow a timeline, get your sh*t together and save money. Pretty easy. I’ll make it even easier for you with this Ultimate Wedding Planning Checklist you can download to keep yourself on task, on time and on budget.
4. Weighing All Things Equal – as much as I’m for equality, your wedding budget isn’t the place for it. Choose three items that are the most important to you, that you don’t want to skimp on. Is that having an incredible photographer or a location with a stunning view? Then choose the three areas that aren’t the be all and end all to you, where you can cut back and you’ll still be happy with the outcome. Maybe that means having a smaller, simpler cake or having a DJ rather than a band. Trying to have everything be the most. important. thing. EVER! is the surest way to blow your budget. Definitely still go for quality and not just the cheapest (as they say, you get what you pay for). For example, you could opt for thermography rather than engraving on the invitations. This one decision could save you a few hundred dollars yet your invitation will still have the same overall look.
5. Buying Cristal with a Budweiser Budget – those top three items? Don’t blow the entire budget on them. If you have a $10,000 budget, hiring a $5,000 photographer or buying a $4,000 wedding dress is the surest way to Stressville. As is serving Cristal champagne if your total bar budget is $500. Be realistic with how much you can afford to spend on those “must have”items and if you have to opt for your second or third choice to stay in the black, so be it. At the end of the day, getting yourself into debt over a dress or a video doesn’t make sense.
So there you have it. Five simple strategies to keep your budget on track.
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