Determining and implementing a budget can be the single biggest hurdle in planning your wedding day. In fact, when a new client hires us, setting a spending limit is the first order of business. It’s essential to set a preliminary budget before any single decision is made. If you think of your overall spending limit as a pie, the size of one slice has a direct impact on the size of every other. Making decisions on any one item before knowing the total picture can make it impossible to stick with your financial goal.
To make the most of your wedding budget, here are a few suggestions:
FOCUS ON THE GUEST EXPERIENCE
Splurge – Great music and entertainment is critical! Whether it’s a band or DJ, get the best that you can afford. When considering music, think about functionality. If dancing is a priority for you, think about what style of music would get you dancing, not necessarily what you like to listen to in the car. The days, weeks, and months after your wedding, what your guests will remember the most is if they had a good time.
Cut – Unless you are a Champagne lover and it defines your relationship in some way, no one will think twice if they toast with whatever they are enjoying at the time. The cost of a Champagne toast can be significant, and much of it is wasted on guests who take a sip – then go back to their wine or cocktail. Often times this cost is part of a package: consider trading it out for additional hors d’oeuvres, or a late-night snack where you will get more bang for your buck.
MAKE IT PERSONAL
Splurge – Specialty linens are a great way to get amazing style for a relatively small investment. Many couples think they will save money by using the linens that are included at their location, and end up spending more on flowers to get a polished look. A splash of color, pattern, or texture goes a long way to upgrading the overall look and to showing your personal style.
Cut – Food and beverage will likely be the largest segment of your budget. Get creative and serve what you love. Just because it’s a wedding doesn’t mean it needs to be fancy. At one of my favorite events we served fried chicken as the entrée – because it was our clients’ favorite. The bonus is the cost was significantly less than serving the filet, and less expected. Serving something unique will leave a lasting impression with your guests.
WORK FROM THE BIG PICTURE BACK TO THE DETAILS
Splurge – If you can fit it in your budget, add event lighting. Having the right lighting makes your room feel warm and intimate. It also enables you to dim the lights and focus your guests’ attention by highlighting the areas you’ve enhanced. The right lighting sets the mood so that your guests dance more, relax more, and they look better in photos.
Cut – Secure the “must have” items first. If your budget runs out before you select a party favor, that’s okay – favors are wonderful, but not essential. Everyone wants the beautiful photographs of the tiny details (and let’s face it, going online and finding them is fun!). But make sure you have the major items first, and then pick out a few special touches. When people start with the tiny details, too often the money spent prohibits them from getting the items they need without compromising the budget.
No matter what your spending limit is, once you’ve established a realistic number, try to stick with it. It’s very easy to get carried away and just add one little thing… over and over and over. Wouldn’t it be nice to wake up the day after your wedding feeling good about not only your spouse, but your finances as well?!
Opening photo by Joe Buissink