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Inspiration Detail | Protecting Your Pocketbook

Protecting Your Pocketbook

Setting your budget is a crucial first step when beginning the planning process. It sets the stage for every element that is included in your special day. In addition, tracking your budget by recording your expenses regularly throughout your planning is critical to avoiding surprises. While tradition calls for the bride’s family to pay for most of the wedding, from time to time couples have relied on alternative methods for allocating their wedding budget. Simply follow these straightforward steps for an easier time establishing your budget and also to prepare you for handling any obstacles along the way. 

FIRST STEP: WHO IS FOOTING THE BILL?
Parents of the Bride
If the bride’s parents are paying for the wedding, it is recommended that the bride sit down with her parents to agree on a specific monetary amount they feel comfortable contributing. Once this amount is established, the bride’s parents and the engaged couple should create a list of their top three wedding priorities. For example, the bride may have her heart set on special wedding photography, while her parents may feel that an open bar during the reception is essential. Once the parties are aware of each other’s wishes, delegating the budget to specific areas of planning will be easier. As wedding vendors are researched, the budget will be a helpful guide in narrowing the various options, as it may be necessary to exclude some vendors that would exceed your budget. 

The final step in the budget process is determining who will be in charge of tracking each expense along with payments to wedding vendors. This will minimize questions during the final planning process regarding the remaining balance on each account and when that balance will be paid. Since the bride is often very busy during this time, it is wise for the father or mother of the bride to be responsible for tracking the budget.

Parents of the Bride and Groom
If both families are contributing to the wedding budget, separate conversations should occur between the engaged couple and their respective parents. The first topic of discussion is the monetary amount each family feels comfortable contributing. Some families would rather delegate the budget by paying for specific elements like the alcohol, entertainment and floral design rather than allotting a specific dollar amount for the total budget. Once this is decided, both families will feel more comfortable with the wedding budget. The couple and their families should discuss a payment plan for contributions to the wedding and delegate a single person to track the budget and any balances throughout the planning process. If the bride and groom are overseeing the budget, be certain to clearly communicate necessary obligations to both families throughout the wedding-planning process. Each family will then know their current balance owed and any upcoming payments well in advance of the due date. 

The Bride and Groom
It is not uncommon for many couples to pay for their own wedding, especially if they have been independent for several years or are planning a second wedding. Establishing a realistic budget for yourself is critical when paying for your own wedding. Many financial planners suggest formulating a budget that can be paid one-half before the big day and one-half within the twelve months following. Your wedding budget should never put you in significant debt. You do not want to start your new lives together buried by a mountain of wedding bills! Smart budgeting upfront will prevent that from happening. Simply review your plans and make cuts to expenses that are not essential. The best way to uncover areas that could be considered for budget cuts is for the bride and groom each to write down their top three wedding priorities. Anything outside of that list should be considered for cuts.

For the groom, this could be a live band, special transportation and a signature drink. For the bride, this could be floral design, her wedding gown and a professional makeup artist. Once this is considered, it is easier to stay focused on what each other desires most, thereby allowing each to be more respectful of the other’s wishes when making necessary cuts. Also, it often reveals areas you both do not feel strongly about, making the budget cutting much easier. 

Finally, it may be helpful to hire a financial planner or wedding planner if you are handling the budget yourselves. A financial planner not only can assist in creating a realistic budget and payment plan, but can also establish helpful financial goals and tools for your future as a married couple. A wedding planner can assist in establishing a budget, in monitoring your budget and in assisting with making necessary cuts. The wedding planner may also be able to work with vendors for discounts or specials, which in turn could more than recover the cost of hiring the planning specialist. 

SECOND STEP: FORECASTING THE BUDGET
It is often difficult to establish a wedding budget when you have no point of reference. The most important thing to remember is everyone views budgets differently. One bride may want to spend a large percentage of the overall budget on her wedding gown and settle for a cake and punch reception. Another bride may want a large wedding with a plated dinner for 400 guests and would trim her budget by purchasing a lower-priced gown. Prioritize your wishes. If you are still unsure after attempting to outline a budget, consider this: (a) 40-50% of wedding budgets typically are spent on the reception food, drinks and rentals; (b) 10% of the budget is typically spent on flowers; (c) 10% on attire; and (d) 10% on music and entertainment. Midwestern brides usually have large weddings of 200 guests or more, thereby shifting the budget toward accommodating a higher guest count. If you are looking at a smaller budget but a large guest list, it may be best to revisit your guest list and consider cutting some guests to stretch your dollars. 

It is best to breakdown your total budget amount into categories to better forecast how much money you believe each element will cost. This will keep you focused on the smaller dollar amounts that you have allotted when working with each vendor. If you are “under” budget in certain areas, either delegate that amount to another area of need or put that amount aside. Typically, most brides spend 10% to 20% more than budgeted. So, it is wise to place the money aside, rather than finding areas to spend it. This will ensure that you come in on or under budget after all expenses have been paid.

THIRD STEP: STAYING ORGANIZED
During your planning process, you will accumulate many contracts, brochures, menus and other paperwork that need to be organized. Delegate a close family member or trusted friend to be in charge of charting and managing your wedding budget and all associated information. This includes forecasting the budget, tracking actual payments, documenting all down payments and scheduling when the payments are due. It is important to have periodic meetings about the status of your budget, addressing areas where you exceeded the target budget and areas where you came in under budget. You will be more comfortable meeting with vendors when you know the status of your budget as a whole and how much money you are able to spend. 

Any time you become stressed or overwhelmed by your wedding budget, just remind yourself of the bigger picture  —your wedding day! Remember your priorities and stay focused on the end result. Most couples have to sacrifice a few elements to afford their dream wedding. Trust in your wedding vendors and allow them to assist you in getting the most for your allotted budget. Finally, if your parents are contributing to your wedding, it is essential that you remain grateful for any financial assistance they provide. By following these simple steps, you can achieve your dream wedding on any budget, large or small! |NWD|