Wedding budget: How to connect the dots between your vision and financial reality

As a wedding planner, it’s my goal to make the financial part of your wedding planning straight forward and to help you make the most of your budget.  It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you look at everything that you need for your wedding.   Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • You have full control over your buying decisions, so the items and services that you select should be those that give you good value.
  • Knowledge is power, so the best thing you can do is get informed about what things cost first, and not pick arbitrary numbers.
  • Don’t feel constrained by your budget, because there are ways to save money in one place so that you can get what you want in another category.
  • Remember what’s most important to you, so that you can make good trade offs.

As a first step to establishing your budget, make a list of all the items and services that you think you will need.  Then, rank each item as Very Important, Moderately Important or Not Important.  Regardless of how big or small your budget is, chances are that you will end up making some smart choices and trade-offs, so being honest about what’s most meaningful to you is a great start.  As it turns out, this is a really valuable practice for many other decisions that you will make as a couple, long after the wedding.

Next, start with the elements that are the most important to you and the most significant expenditures, such as catering, entertainment and decor.   Our rule of thumb is that you should meet with three service providers for each service.  This will give you a lot of information, so that you can decide what you want and how much you are willing to spend.  Be a smart consumer by asking questions and listening carefully (use our recommended vendor interview questions included in The Ultimate Wedding Planning Systemtm) and make written notes about important information.

Remember also, the vast majority of wedding professionals are hard working and reputable and want to please their clients.  So, don’t be afraid to tell them what you are looking for, admit that you are not sure about certain things and express what’s really important to you.  They will work hard to earn your business and will give you their best ideas and information.

When we make vendor recommendations, we hold these vendors to a very high standard – quality, responsiveness, trustworthiness, and creativity.  It’s a win-win when our client finds a vendor who they trust and who exceeds their expectations.  After all, you only get one shot at this!  Please know that a trusted relationship requires both sides to contribute – you, as well as the service provider.  So, we invite you to follow a few basic principles:

  • Be honest about what you are looking for and what your budget is.   That way, the service provider can offer you ideas that are suitable for you.
  • Let the vendor know ahead of time if you are cancelling an appointment.
  • Let the vendor know if you’ve decided not use their services after you’ve met with them.

After you’ve interviewed 2-3 vendors in each category, you should have a pretty good idea of what you like and what you should expect to pay for it.  Update your budget and make some trade offs, if you need to.  And don’t forget that the vendors can help here, too.  Call those who impressed you and ask for their advice on how to make your budget work.  You will be surprised by their creativity and innovation, when you are open minded and flexible.

In the end, your budget is a guide, not a hard and fast rule.  As long as you are realistic about your expectations and your resources, you can have an amazing wedding that’s right for you, at any budget.

For additional tips on cutting your wedding costs, read our blog.

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