The B Word: Part 1

An exquisite Monique Lhuillier wedding dress, picture-perfect chiavari chairs, sophisticated letter-press invitations, a string quartet playing Cannon in D as you walk down the aisle…these are the things we dream of for perfect wedding day. Then we realize that we must face reality and think about the dreaded B-word: BUDGET. It’s daunting and overwhelming, and you begin to think that maybe eloping to Vegas isn’t such a bad idea after all. Don’t book your flight ticket just yet! We’re here to guide you through the budgeting process. With all the right tools and careful planning, it will be (somewhat) painless!

Who’s footing the bill?
Figure out where the money is coming from. Talk to both sets of parents and discuss if they are able to contribute financially rather than assuming that your parents are paying for the reception and his parents are hosting the rehearsal dinner. If they offer to pay for a specific item, like photographer or flowers, get a ballpark figure of how much they’re estimating. Secondly, consider your personal finances and discuss how much you and your fiancé can contribute toward the wedding budget. Don’t put yourself into debt! This is supposed to be a celebration of love that’s followed by a lifetime of happiness, not financially inducing pain.

Prioritize
Identify your top priorities so that you can move forward with a focused and united vision. Print out 2 copies of this priority list and individually evaluate what you must absolutely have on your wedding day and what things you can scale back on. If your fiancé is an avid music lover, put him in charge of researching DJs. If you’re all about the flowers, that can be your assignment. If neither of you care for an extravagant 8-tier wedding cake, consider other fun and budget-friendly options, like the DIY Cookie Bar.

Who? When? Where?
Do want a small and intimate wedding with 30 of your closest friends and family, or a big fiesta with 250 people? Are you a sun-loving summer bride, or do you have your heart set on a winter wonderland wedding? Did you want to stay local, or have an exotic destination wedding in Jamaica? Having these things figured out in the beginning will help you tremendously with setting realistic numbers with the next phase in the budget planning process.

Categorize
Everyone seems to have a different answer for this question–What’s included in the wedding budget? It should include everything that is involved in the wedding. This mean pretty much everything except your engagement ring and the honeymoon, neither of which are a part of the wedding celebration. Refer to our budget sheet to see the general categories. Make sure to include any mandatory service fees and tax. Below is our recommended allocation (for a non-destination wedding):

  • Reception (45%): Site fee, food, beverage, corkage fee, cake, cutting fee, vendor meals, rentals (tables, chairs, linens, etc.)
  • Photography & Videotography (12%): Engagement session, wedding day coverage, production (editing, prints, wedding album, parents’ albums, etc.)
  • Attire  & Beauty (10%): Wedding dress, alterations, veil, jewelry & accessories, shoes, undergarments (bra, bustier, slip), hair, makeup, groom’s tux, groom’s accessories (tie, cuff links, etc.)
  • Flowers (9%): Bride’s bouquet, bridesmaids’ bouquets, groom’s boutonniere, groomsmen’s boutonnieres, mothers’ corsage, fathers’ boutonnieres, ceremony flowers, reception centerpieces
  • Music (7%): Ceremony music, cocktail hour music, reception music
  • Planner (5%): Wedding coordinator or day-of coordinator fee
  • Ceremony (2.5%): Site fee, officiant fee, ceremony accessories (for religious ceremony, aisle runner, unity candle, etc.)
  • Stationary (2.5%): Save-the-dates, wedding invitations, thank you cards, postage, programs, escort cards, place cards
  • Gifts (2.5%): Wedding favors, parents’ gifts, bridal party gifts
  • Wedding bands (2.5%): For bride and groom
  • Miscellaneous (2%): Gratuity and other unplanned costs
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