Wedding Planning — Creating A Meaningful Budget

Planning a wedding is no easy task. The months leading up to your big day are going to be filled with excitement, emotions and big spending. The best way to make sure you don’t start your new marriage horribly in debt is to determine what you can spend and how you are going to spend it. Below are my top five secrets that will help you create a meaningful budget and stick to it.

1. Create an accurate guest list. Your biggest expenses, like your food and beverage bill, linens and centerpieces will be greatly influenced by your guest count. That makes the guest list the single most important variable in your budget. Whether you do it by spreadsheet or index cards, before you do anything else, decide how many people you will invite and how many will actually attend.

2. Determine what is most important to you. Typically I find that the food and beverage bill accounts for nearly half of a wedding’s overall budget. So, if you are going to spend $30,000 on your overall wedding, figure $15,000 of that will go to feeding your guests. That leaves you with only $15,000 to spend on everything else. You will be surprised how fast that money goes. You must determine the items that are most important to you. Do you want an extraordinary gown? You may have to cut back on the flowers. Do you want a 10-piece band? You may have to cut back on the photographer.

3. Don’t forget extra fees. In Orlando, most hotels and restaurants charge a 22 percent service fee and then tax on top of this. On a $10,000 food and beverage bill, that adds almost $3,000.00 in fees. You can also expect chef attendant fees if you do action stations. Some locations also charge cake cutting fees if you don’t purchase the cake from them. These fees can really add up. Don’t forget to plan for them.

4. Once you know what you can spend on each service, share that with the vendors you meet. Hopefully all the wedding professionals that you interview are, well, professional. If they are, they won’t hesitate to help you figure out how to get the most for your dollar. If you have $800.00 to spend on a wedding gown, tell the salon that’s all you have to spend. They will show you beautiful gowns that you can afford rather than tempting you with something out of range.

5. Set up a wedding bank account or debit card. This will keep you from digging into your savings or going into credit card debt. Also, if you have people helping you pay for your wedding, you can have them contribute directly to the account. This will help you avoid the pain of calling that person every five minutes when you need financial help. It also will make that person less likely to give you unsolicited advice with every decision you make.

Following these five easy tips will make shopping for your wedding a much more pleasant experience