This is the fourth installment in our series of posts about the top 5 planning mistakes we’ve seen couples make in the past. In case you missed them, check out our first three posts: #5 – Assuming Your Vendors Communicate, #4 – Ignoring the Setting Sun, #3 – Inviting Too Many Guests.
Money is never easy to talk about, but keeping silent is the number one reason people go over budget. Creating your budget – and deciding on its points of flexibility – sets the tone for relationships during the wedding planning process. You have to juggle your priorities with your partner’s, your parent’s, and your soon-to-be in-law’s wishes and traditions. Attacking these problems early on in the process can prevent emotional breakdowns when the bills come due and keep everyone’s stress levels down.
Problems resulting from insufficient, incomplete, or conflicted budgeting can lead to a whole plethora of problems. We have seen couples book venues with a predicted cost of $20,000 who are heartbroken when they later determine their total wedding budget is $25,000. Another problem we see stems from a lack of communication between the couple, leading the bride to keep the groom in the dark as to vendor commitments that are breaking the bank. Budgeting for a wedding is really difficult, because it’s not a skill we are often taught. Some brides rely on friends with budgeting experience, like CPAs or project managers, to help them through the process, but wedding prices and categories are totally different from those dealt with in their line of work.
So, what’s the best way to avert budget disaster? Talk, talk, talk. Talk with the key players, including all of the parents, to prioritize expense categories, determine contributions and the overall bottom line, and finalize what will be covered by this budget. Does it include the honeymoon? What about the rehearsal dinner? Is everyone’s attire included, or just the bride’s dress? Be specific. Prioritization is very important in this process. It’s invaluable to know ahead of time that it’s really important to your mom that you get married at the church you grew up in, or that the groom’s mom would like you to wear her veil, or that your dad is totally passionate about the need for a wedding video, or even that the groom loathes chair covers. Not only can these issues cause problems later, but also they affect the amount of money you will spend and your ability to cover a variety of categories. Clearly define your budget categories, pick your priorities, and allocate your money accordingly. Be respectful during this process, and remain mindful not only of the dollars and cents involved, but others’ priorities and emotions. A wedding planner can lend a hand in this process if necessary, but to some degree, you know your family best and can negotiate the riptides of tradition and emotion.
Something to keep in mind is that a budget is not set in stone. As you do market research, the costs you allocated to various categories may change. That’s okay, but try to balance the changes out across the different categories, so that your overall budget doesn’t zoom up. Maybe you find out that you’re willing to give up that vintage car in order to get the photographer you want. Just be sure to subtract or tone down low priority categories if you decide to add costs to high priority items. A planner can be very helpful here, as long as he or she is aware early in the process that you need help keeping costs in line and what your priorities are.