Setting up a Wedding Budget
Expect to make some compromises along the way to an affordable wedding
By Cynthia Myers
Your dream wedding begins with romance and fantasies of your perfect day. Then reality intrudes: how are you going to pay for everything? And what -- exactly -- is the "everything" you'll need to pay for? Although setting up a wedding budget may sound boring and maybe even painful, taking the time to plan out what you'll spend can help bring those fantasies of the perfect wedding to life.
- What You Need to Know
- Many brides find that tracking expenses is easier using financial software or a spreadsheet. Whichever method you choose, make sure that your data is easily accessible. You may even want to delegate this task to a financially-savvy bridesmaid.
Decide how much you have to spend. If your parents are footing the bill for your wedding, they may have a specific amount set aside to pay for the ceremony and reception. If you and your fiance are paying your own way, you'll need to look at your own savings and income and decide what you can afford. Don't put yourself into debt, but don't be too stingy, either. You can have a beautiful wedding in almost any price range.
Establish priorities. What are the most important parts of the wedding to you? Is the perfect gown your dream? Have you always wanted a wedding with lavish flowers? Do you have your heart set on a sit-down dinner reception? Likewise, look at what you can do without. Maybe a three-tier cake doesn't matter to you. Maybe you're fine with hors d'oeuvres instead of a dinner, or flowers really aren't important to you. Don't forget to list expenses that you'll have to pay regardless of what you decide: the wedding license, tips for professionals such as musicians and applicable local taxes. Plan to spend more of your allotted funds on your priorities and trim costs in areas that matter less to you.
Decide who you'll invite. The size of the wedding largely dictates the cost. Will you invite only relatives and close friends? How close? Will you invite their children? Will your guests be allowed to bring dates? The fewer people you invite, the more you can afford to spend on them at your reception.
Do your research. With your priority list in hand, start making phone calls to find out how much that dream dress or dinner reception is likely to cost. Pencil in these figures on your preliminary budget. Don't worry about making everything balance at this point. Right now you're only gathering facts.
Re-evaluate. Is everything still within your budgeted amounts? If not, find out where you can cut costs. Ask friends and professionals and research online for ideas of how to save money on the things that matter to you (one good site is CostHelper.com). Simple things such as moving the wedding to a different day of the week or time or day can trim expenses considerably. Look at what you can do yourself, such as making your own centerpieces and favors.
Keep track as you spend. You can make note of everything in a simple ledger book, or track it with computer financial software. Some couples find it helpful to open a special checking account for the wedding or use a single credit card for all wedding-related expenditures. If you're careful to note all expenses it will be easier to see at a glance if you're close to exceeding your budget. When you need to make choices between two options, you can check your figures and opt for the choice that makes the most financial sense.
About the Author
Cynthia James is a regular contributor to DexKnows.
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Do the budget boogaloo
Figure out if one set of parents would like to cover, say, the rehearsal dinner, and another will foot the bill for the band, booze and food. You and your betrothed will need to cover the rest. Or, if you're covering the whole shebang, get ready for some finance finessing.
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