Wedding Budgeting — You're Doing It Wrong

Yup. You read that correctly. Chances are pretty good that you're budgeting for your wedding all wrong. Not that I can blame you, since when have you thrown an all-day shindig for 100 or so of your nearest and dearest? It’s new territory so unfortunately, you're likely to stumble along the way. Sure, there are budget spreadsheets but how do you know if you’re making the right decision or not? Where can you splurge and where to cut back?

The trick to successfully budgeting for your big day is to take emotions out of the equation. There's enough drama with a wedding going on without upping the ante with financial stress. Channel your inner Spock and approach your budget from a detached, logical position (well, as much as you possibly can).

Most importantly, though, is to get yourselves organized. You're spending a fair deal of money for this celebration and going about it higgly-piggly is a recipe for disaster. Be aware of the following five budget pitfalls, follow the advice on how to avoid them and you should be able to pull off your hootenanny with a whole lot of hoot and just a little bit of nanny.

Without further ado, the five biggest budget blunders and the simple steps to right your course:

1.Not Having a Budget Seems like a no-brainer but it’s surprising how many people start planning their wedding without a solid amount of money allotted to pay for it all. Before you think of a date or start putting together a guest list, figure out your budget. Right away. Sit down and have a very frank and realistic discussion with all involved about how much is being contributed and is 100% confirmed. Notice the word “confirmed”. I recently had a couple who were counting on the bride’s father to pay for everything. Three weeks before the wedding, he told them he wasn’t able to pay for anything after all. Nada. Zippo. Luckily, they had enough money saved to cover most of what they’d envisioned but we still had to scramble to cut back. Trust me, you don’t want to be put into this situation. Figure out your finances first.

2. Guest List Gone Wild More people = more expenses. Simple as that. Every person is another meal, another bar bill, another chair, etc. Ballpark how much food and drink is per person (let’s say $100) to give you a rough idea of how much your guests are going to cost you. Inviting five of your co-workers? Don't forget about their significant others. Boom! You've just spent $1,000 on food and drink for people you don't really know that well. And don't forget you’ll need another table for them, with linens, napkins, chargers, floral arrangement, seating cards. See how quickly that guest list adds up?

3. Tanking on the Timeline That old saying haste makes waste? So, so true. Leaving things to the last minute racks up the expenses with rush fees, not to mention the incredible amount of stress it causes. Vendors want to help make your wedding wonderful but if you’re expecting them to drop everything to deal with your crisis, expect to pay handsomely for that privilege (you’re not their only clients, after all). Follow a timeline, get your sh*t together and save money. Pretty easy. I’ll make it even easier for you with this Ultimate Wedding Planning Checklist you can download to keep yourself on task, on time and on budget.

4. Weighing All Things Equal As much as I’m for equality, your wedding budget isn’t the place for it. It's impossible to have all things equally emphasized and not go wildly over-budget. Choose three items that are the most important to you, that you don’t want to skimp on. Is that having an incredible photographer? A location with a stunning view? A kick-ass band? Then choose the three areas that aren’t the be all and end all to you, where you can cut back and you’ll still be happy with the outcome. Maybe that means having a smaller, simpler cake or having a DJ rather than a band. Definitely still go for quality and not just the cheapest (as they say, you get what you pay for). For example, you could opt for thermography rather than engraving on the invitations. This one decision could save you a few hundred dollars yet your invitation will still have the same overall look.

5. Buying Cristal with a Budweiser Budget Those top three items? Don’t blow the entire budget on them. If you have a $10,000 budget, hiring a $5,000 photographer or buying a $4,000 wedding dress is the surest way to Stressville. As is serving Cristal champagne if your total bar budget is $500. Be realistic with how much you can afford to spend on those “must have” items and if you have to opt for your second or third choice to stay in the black, so be it. At the end of the day, getting yourself into debt over a dress or a video doesn’t make sense.

And that's it! By being aware and knowing how to sidestep around these budget slip ups will keep you on solid financial footing. Good luck!

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