Ugh. Who doesn’t love discussing money? … Let me just tell you, I hate talking about money. Money causes stress, stress causes unhappiness, and unhappiness is not my friend. Actually, stress is not my friend either.
Anyway, the first thing a planning couple has to do is sit down and determine the budget. This has to go above all else because it determines everything else. The last thing you want to do is sign a contract for a swanky venue and realize that you have nothing or very little left for anything else. Thankfully, the powers of the internet and its lovely wedding websites make factoring the budget significantly easier. However, I do believe that they should only be used as a guideline because what is important for you may not be important to them.
For me, the most important thing was photography. In my mind, I could not figure out why anyone would want to cut costs in photography when for most people it’s the only thing you have to remember the day. I want my pictures to be gorgeous and professional. The photographers in my price range in the budget calculator did not reflect what I had envisioned. So, I decided that I had to make room. My fiance and I cut transportation completely and opted to have our ceremony and reception in the same place to make up the difference. Would I have liked to have left our reception in a limo or classic car? Sure. But was it important to me? Not particularly.
You can find budget calculators on weddingwire and theknot.
Two other factors to consider when determining the budget:
1. Depending on the venue, certain seasons are cheaper. The summer and early fall are peak wedding months. Pretty much, June through October. Consider choosing a month in the ‘off’ season, especially if you’ve got your heart set on a place. Also, certain days of the week are cheaper. Saturday evening is PRIME time for weddings. Perhaps considering a Friday night or a Sunday afternoon would suffice and still allow you to have the wedding of your dreams.
2. The guest list. This is the easiest way to cut the budget. The less you have, the less per person you have to pay. However, some vendors charge you a surcharge if you’re below x-amount of guests. Also, consider making it an adult only event if you have friends and family with children. The parents may welcome the chance to get out without the kids and you also will not have to worry about temper tantrums or crying interrupting special moments.
As a planning bride, I had to take both of those factors into account when determining my budget. The cost to get married in the Washington D.C. area is not cheap and every single dollar has to count. My fiance and I chose to get married on a Friday evening in March to balance the costs. We also decided to make it adult only because I have a large family and with that comes about 25 children under the age of 10.
Other things I have decided to do:
- Repurpose flowers. Bridesmaid bouquets and ceremony flowers are being used in centerpieces and decor.
- Cupcakes instead of cake. Some bakers wanted $10 per slice of cake. Cupcakes are $4 each.
- No calligraphy/letter-press/super fancy printing.
- DIY projects. [More to come on these later!]