After reading an article in “Real Simple Weddings,” I was inspired to spotlight some of the best tips and information I read, along with some of my own advice (as an industry professional.)
1) Figure out who is paying, and for what.
While it used to be that traditionally, the parents of the bride would pay for everything wedding related, the times have changed. More and more couples are not only contributing to the total bill themselves, but in many cases are footing the entire thing. In fact, in 2008 about 60% of the final cost of the wedding was paid for by the couples themselves. Something to keep in mind when deciding who pays for what: while traditionally there are certain items that parents pay for, this is your wedding, and however you and your fiancee and the respective families decide to split up the cost is always the “correct” way to do it. Sorry, Emily Post!
2) Figure out how much you are willing to spend.
The best way to figure this out, is to start big and then narrow it down. Sit down with your fiancee and make a list of everything you would like included in the wedding if the budget was limitless. Then, use something called “the three-strikes rule.” This gives you and your fiancee the opportunity to “strike-out” three things from your lists that they think are unnecessary, too lavish, or what have you. BUT, it is important to give reasons. “Because I said so” is not usually an acceptable excuse. This bridges the gap between what your visions are for the wedding, and gives you the chance to talk about compromise and negotiate. Afterall, now is as good of a chance as any to begin compromise! Once this has been accomplished, you are able to start pricing out what certain items will cost. But, a word of caution: almost all weddings end of being 10%-15% more expensive because of unexpected costs associated with certain aspects of the wedding. A good rule of thumb? Set your budget 10%-15% below what you really want to end up spending at the end of the day.
3) How will this be paid for?
Start saving! You can never underestimate the value of saving early. Every little bit helps when those unexpected costs pop up out of nowhere! Open a seperate bank account with a high interest rate for your wedding and put away what you can, when you can. ING Direct is a good one (www.INGDirect.com). If you put away 10%-20% of your paycheck towards this account a year ahead of time, that can turn into quite a little something!
4) Know the industry.
There are several ways to budget for those pesky little “unforeseen” costs when it comes to weddings. I have listed some below:
a) There is tax on everything. Budget for it.
b) Stamps! Depending on how many people you invite, between save-the-date
cards and invitations, a 150-person wedding would cost more than $132 in stamps!
c) Corkage fees: Ask your caterer or bartending service about this. It varies.
d) Cake-cutting fees: $1.00-$3.00 per person.
e) Never underestimate the value of a planner! Often times they already have established relationships with vendors in the area, and may be able to offer discounts.
5) Shameless Money Savings Tips
a) Plan your wedding on a Friday or Sunday, and ask for “off season” dates. If you are flexible about this, you could save thousands!
b) Forego open bar, and opt for one or two specialty drinks, or beer and wine only. On that note, forego champagne toasts, also. People will generally toast with whatever they are already drinking.
c) Inquire about referrals from each vendor you choose. It never hurts to ask!
There are several good websites out there to assist with pre-wedding budgeting issues. I have listed a few below:
1) http://www.CostOfWedding.com – This website shows you what the average cost of a wedding is in your area
2) http://www.TheKnot.com – Sign up (it’s free) to use thier online budgeting tracker
3) http://www.Craigslist.com – Allows you to search by keyword for items in your area…many are free from other couples who do not have a need for thier leftover wedding items! But be warned: if you see something you want, ACT FAST! Many of the people sell to the first person to inquire. Also, most deal only in cash. This is where that Wedding Bank Account could come in handy!
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