One of the biggest mistake I have seen as a wedding planner, are when couples are planning their wedding without a budget. I know it is not the most exciting thing you want to do right after getting engaged.  However, starting out with a budget is the most important decision you can make during the wedding planning process.

The budget is where dreams and reality meet for the first time and force you to prioritize what’s truly important to both of you. There is no “right” amount for a wedding budget; it all depends on you, your family, your priorities and your tastes. What makes it sticky and complicated is that there are two of you, two families, two sets of priorities and two tastes. The most important thing is to remember through all of this is that your wedding day is only one day, but your lives together are forever. Your lives will continue after the wedding and something that may seem important now will seem trivial in retrospect.

So, when it comes to wedding planning, this is the one area that I feel deserves a lot of thought, attention and time. If you create a wedding budget, a lot of unnecessary stress can be avoided in the entire wedding planning process! First, let’s talk about the five mistakes that will impact your wedding budget the most. 

Ann Ilagan Photography

1. Spending slightly over what you budgeted for…in every category!

If you find the perfect item/vendor for your wedding but it over your estimated amount, by all means it’s okay to get it or move forward! BUT, remember to adjust for that amount in another category or two.

2.  Not doing your research.

Make sure to compare styles of vendors, reviews, and prices. If you are equally interested with two very similar vendors, they both have great reviews, but one charges more money, then hire the less expensive one.  The point is… do not think that more expensive automatically = better.  Do your research.  Book your vendors based on their work, their personality and how you feel about them being part of your day.  Not solely on price.

3. Inviting too many people.

This adds up!  Your budgeted a maximum of 100 guests for your dinner reception.  Then your families start adding additional invites.  Before you know it, you’ve added 50 more people…OK  50 more mouths to feed, no big deal, we can arrange for that.  But that actually means you now have 50 more chairs, 50 more chargers, 5 more centerpieces, etc to add to your budget.

4. Just skimming your wedding vendor contracts 

When it comes to your wedding, it’s not life and death, but reading your contracts before signing them is a matter of money money money. And last I checked, you’re all ‘on a budget’ so let’s help you stay in that budget by avoiding assumptions, which lead to mistakes. The best way to avoid assumptions and mistakes is to read your vendor contracts carefully. 

5. Making hasty or emotional decisions.

Weddings are emotional but you shouldn’t purchase based solely based on emotion.  You need to explore a little…do your research.  You need to ask the right questions and read the small print on all your contracts.  Then, see which options are best and within your budget, then make a decision but not until you have all the information.  And most importantly is in line with what you BOTH want for the wedding.    

Where do I begin to put together my wedding budget?

1. Determine what kind of wedding you both desire.

This is when you and your fiance sit down and determine what kind of wedding style you would like to have.  Are you think an outdoor picnic casual affair or a full service formal event or somewhere in between?

2. Research vendors and get price quotes.  Here is a good list to get you started:

  • Wedding Planner
  • Caterer
  • Ceremony Venue
  • Reception Venue
  • Bakery
  • DJ/Entertainment
  • Photography
  • Florist
  • Videography
  • Transportation

3. Meet with your respective parents to speak honestly and openly how much they are willing to contribute to the “wedding fund.

Special note: money from family can have strings attached, so be careful to set the  expectations that this is YOUR wedding and but that you communicate your appreciation for their financial contributions.

Bride & Groom Exit

Beware the you are not planning two weddings:  one inspired by Pinterest and one you can actually afford.

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