Congrats to our the newly ENGAGED!! As you start the new year we want to give you some budgeting tips for your wedding! It’s possible to have a wedding on any budget, but it’s not possible to have any wedding on any budget. Your wedding will be gorgeous and meaningful and memorable because you two are at the center of it — blissfully happy and in love — no matter how much you spend or don’t spend. Years from now, that love and happiness is what you and your guests will remember above all else! Here are some universal tips from experienced brides.
1. Start saving early if you have “champagne tastes on a beer budget.” Even if you might not know exactly how much your wedding will cost, it’s a pretty good bet that it will be expensive. Like all expensive things, the sooner you start saving, the smaller the amount per month you need to save, and therefore the less painful it will be. If you know you’re going to want some of those amazing extras that a parent might not be as willing to splurge on, like videography and photography!
2. Set your budget. Thankfully, even though it’s nearly impossible to know how much the wedding in your head will cost before getting engaged and talking to vendors, it’s still possible to set your budget, because your budget should be based on the amount of money you have, not the amount of money you want to spend. In addition to tallying whatever you and your fiance will contribute, check in with both sets of parents (if they haven’t made the first move). I would recommend going into the conversation with a grateful heart and without expectations, and being thankful for any contribution they might want to make.
3. Prioritize your budget. Once you’ve determined the pool of money available to spend, it’s time to begin slicing it up. Start to talk with your fiance about what’s most important to you both, and start to reach out to vendors and venues with whom you’re interested in working. As quotes come in, you’ll start to see how your money might need to be allocated.Wedding quotes can be eye-popping and confusing at first, but there are lots of articles out there that will help you understand them better (two I recommend on flowers: here and here). It also might be helpful to look at how other couples have split their budget — mine is right here, and Ruffled also runs a great series on real budgets. Also: don’t forget to calculate tips into the cost of each vendor. You can find our tips for tipping here.
4. Set up good relationships with vendors from the start. Tell them about what you have planned for your wedding and why you’re excited about it; tell them why you love their work. Vendors tend to go above and beyond for clients they genuinely like and who are appreciative of them — it’s just human nature.
5. Negotiate with care. A photographer might be willing to take 10% off his package price under certain circumstances, but please don’t expect a discount — they’ve set their prices with careful thought. Instead, if the price quoted is beyond your budget, see if you can subtract something from what he’s presenting — an album, hours of coverage, number of prints — for a lower price. A florist should be able to work with you on what flowers are in season and which blooms will have the most impact per dollar. Some vendors who love to travel may waive their travel fees for certain locations that they’ve always wanted to visit — if you’re getting married in a particularly stunning location, it might be worth a shot! If you have the luxury of a long engagement, you might be able to book vendors like photographers or videographers at, say, their 2013 prices even though your wedding is in 2014.
6. If necessary, cut based on your priorities. That being said, a few ideas to get your wheels turning: skip ceremony flowers (choose a beautiful location instead); skip favors unless you can think of something that’s truly meaningful to you as a couple; buy a pre-loved gown or sell yours post-wedding; borrow a car from a friend or just ride in yours instead of renting a limo or vintage car; skip a reply card and have guests email their RSVPs; order a simple cake design and crown it with a gorgeous topper (bonus points if it’s a family heirloom!).
7. Supplement your professionals. While some things should ALWAYS be left to professionals, there are some amazing ways to cut costs while working hand-in-hand with the pros you’ve hired!
8. Borrow! Not everything has to be bought new (or even old) for your wedding! Borrowed pieces can lend a beautiful air of family and heritage to your wedding day, and, in my experience, guests love having a hand in the magic!
9. Share! There are some amazing stories of brides getting married on the same weekend at a venue using the same tent draping, for instance, or the same arbor for their ceremony. See if your venue will put you in touch with your fellow brides, or put out feelers on social media or through friends of friends to see who you might be able to connect with!
10. Take care of your guests. We LOVE details, but at some point (especially when you’re on a limited budget), start thinking about how it will FEEL to you and your guests. People will remember when you made them feel comfortable and included and welcomed, and they will also remember when they had to wait in a line or ate cold food or trek a mile to the bathroom because you didn’t want to pay for a port-a-potty. They will almost certainly forgive you for those things, because they are your dearest friends and family and they love you, but wouldn’t it be better to avoid them altogether? Gracious hospitality is always a budget “do.”
11. Remember it’s not the only party you’ll throw in your lifetime. As I was planning our wedding, every so often I’d see an idea that I really, really wanted to include… except that it didn’t fit in our budget, or it didn’t fit with the aesthetic of our day. Whenever this happened, I sat myself down and issued a reminder: this party was not the last one I would throw in my life-time. It might be the biggest, and it might be the most expensive, but I had years of dinner parties, birthday parties, and anniversary parties ahead of me, and there would more than likely be a place to incorporate my idea of the day into one of those future soiree’s.
Friends, we’ve hardly scratched the surface with these budgeting tips, even though this post is astonishingly long! What do you all have to add? Where are you splurging and where are you saving for your wedding? Are you borrowing or sharing or supplementing? We’d love to hear your comments!!