When planning a wedding, money matters. So, let’s talk about money.
I tell all of my clients that before they begin planning their dream wedding, they need to have a common vision of their wedding and a common understanding of their budget. Most couples need to sit down, first and foremost, and talk about how they imagine the celebration down to the details both large and small.
Once you have the reality inside the dream sorted out, you can create a list sorted by priority of the elements and ideas you want to include on the wedding day. For some couples, their priority is catering and the wedding venue, for others its entertainment and photography, and still others may prioritize the rentals and florals. It’s totally up to you, but it’s really important to discuss this with your sweetie because you may have different opinions. In fact, you most likely will have different priorities, so it’s a good idea to talk it through and decide together on what matters most to you. Be prepared to compromise!
You can then use this list as you tinker with your budget. I always suggest this list because people are so emotionally inspired when they imagine their dream wedding that it’s sometimes hard to get past that emotion to the nitty-gritty of what you can actually afford. The priorities list allows you to honor your emotions and dreams but also be practical about scale. As you plan your wedding, you can rely heavily on this list to address each item in priority-order and within the budget.
Regarding the size of the budget, you’ll need to know quite early on who is contributing money to the wedding. Is it all being paid for by you? Or are you getting money from, for example, parents and grandparents? To figure this out, I suggest you sit down with family members over dinner to celebrate the engagement and also to talk about their overall vision and what the family members see as their role in the wedding. Usually from this conversation comes clarity on the relatives’ ability to contribute or not. Now is actually a great time to have that conversation because families are convening for the holidays.
Finally, to avoid budget sprawl, you should work with worst-case-scenario figures. That means the highest possible cost of the preferred vendor, the highest possible guest count — basically, the most everything you are pursuing could cost you. It’s much nicer to have money left over at the end because then you can apply it towards your honeymoon or put it in a bank to purchase a house.
Your budget will ultimately be determined by your priorities, who’s chipping in, and the vision of your wedding celebration. The best advice I can give is to plan the wedding celebration that you will love and can afford!