The Budget. That taboo word that no one really wants to talk about but has to, unless you have unlimited resources. You can do all the dreaming you want but to start pulling those dreams into a reality you MUST have a plan. That plan begins with nailing down the amount of money that you have to spend.
These days the traditions of who is paying for what have kind of gone out the window. While parents or grandparents are still the largest contributors to wedding funds, the couple may be putting forth a large amount. It is important to discuss who all will be contributing and getting a committed amount from each party. It is a tricky conversation to have but, trust me, better to have it before anything is spent!
Having an idea of what type of wedding day you want to have will assist you in developing your budget. If you are dreaming of having that backyard reception under a high peak white tent be prepared for a large amount of your spending to be on rentals (tent, lighting, tables, chairs, linens, dance floor, generator, restrooms, etc.). Just to give you an idea, the wedding pictured above was amazing but just the rentals estimated over $20,000. A ballroom or reception hall can be a more reasonable option due to most everything you need being included in the rental cost, especially if you have a large guest list (which we will touch on in the next stage).
The average wedding cost in the United States last year was around $27,000. That is a lot of money, but it may not get you as far as you would expect. Here is a graphic breaking it down for my area from CostofWedding.com.
For this amount of money, you could plan a reception hall event for about 150 guests with the ceremony at the same location. This includes: a dress and accessories, hair and makeup for the bride, basic catering and beverage options (maybe some simple hors d'oeuvres), all basic rental needs included in venue rental cost (tables, chairs, basic linens, dance floor), small to average centerpieces and personal flowers (the $ amount above seems VERY low to me, I would add another $1,000), a DJ, simple invitations and postage, favors for the guests, and a cake.
So, you may be looking at those figures and thinking that the event you have been dreaming of has you adding another 100 guests, a separate ceremony venue, creative lighting, specialty linens, fancier centerpieces and decorations, premium open bar, passed hors d'oeuvres, a New York strip/chicken combo plate, a live band, shuttle transportation for the guests, a photo booth and a wedding planner to pull it all together for you! If that's the case, let's go ahead and double the previously mentioned amount. Scary yes, but all of those fun "extras" cost just that....extra.
If you are considering hiring a wedding planner at all during your planning process my suggestion is to do it right away at the beginning. An experienced and knowledgeable planner can explain to you what things will cost and assist you in allocating your funds to the areas best for you and what you want to prioritize on the big day. Also, having a planner on your team can save you money in the long run. Planners know areas that you can afford to cut back on, where to get good deals on quality vendors/products and how to get creative with the funds that you have.
In the next post, "The Budget....Sticking to it", I will discuss ways to stretch your funds and make them work for you!