DEVELOPING THE BUDGET
Know What You Can Afford
Begin your planning with a realistic approach towards the budget. Have an idea of the style you want to create on your wedding day and trust that there are many ways to get it-and not all of them have to drain your bank account.
Who Pays For What?
Traditionally, the mother and father of the bride assume financial responsibility for everything except flowers and liquor, which are paid for by the groom's parents.
Today, however, when it comes to funding a wedding-anything goes! Possible arrangements include:
- Splitting the costs equally between families.
- You and your fiancé may wish to pay for the wedding yourselves, especially if you have established careers and a good income.
- Have your parents and your fiancé's parents pay for any guests they invite.
- Parents may simply have a dollar amount they wish to contribute to your "wedding fund".
- List wedding costs and allow parents to pick and choose the expenses they can cover comfortably.
CONTROLLING YOUR COSTS
Flexibility is the Key
There are many options for each element of your wedding-a little creative thinking can help you keep wedding costs in line. Here are some things to remember:
In most cases, food will be the most costly portion of your wedding. The good news-your menu also offers you the greatest flexibility for trimming the budget.
Not all weddings require full dinners with an open bar. Depending on the time of day, a brunch or luncheon that offers lighter fare can be truly delightful-not to mention more affordable.
Choose the elements of your menu very carefully, and consider less expensive substitutions for hors d'oeuvres and entrees if cost is an issue. Cocktail receptions and open houses are also very popular and aren't nearly as costly as a full dinner.
To control costs, be conservative in the length of your open bar period, or limit your options to champagne or beer and wine only. Most people will have a wonderful time even with limited liquor choices. It may even help avoid problems from that one guest who always overindulges at the open bar.
Champagne punches, mulled wines or sangria are festive liquor options that can really stretch the budget, so keep them in mind.
You may want to ask about buying your own liquor instead of relying on your caterer to purchase it for you. You can stock up when the prices are good at discount liquor stores. Although this may not be an option at hotels, it doesn't hurt to ask.
Limit the Guest List
Here's a great alternative if you have your heart set on a full dinner with all the trimmings: review your guest list again and again and cut wherever possible. It may be worth it to you to have a smaller group instead of sacrificing the lavish dinner, or vice versa.
Get it in Writing
Wherever you decide to have your reception, you will want to get all your costs in writing to avoid any surprises. Be prepared to spend time reviewing your contract in detail and be sure to ask questions. You should know exactly what's included and what's not.
You will also want to shop around for the best package, and let your prospects know you are doing so. This will prompt them to be up front and they are more likely to offer you a competitive bid.
CHOOSING YOUR PERSONAL STYLE
Since every couple has their own special style, it only makes sense that their wedding should reflect who they are. This personal style is what makes a wedding special and should be carried out consistently in all aspects of the celebration.
Here are a few things to consider that will help create your overall wedding style. Once you have developed this style in your own mind, you can build your wedding around it and start creating a day that is one-of-a-kind.
- Do you have a preference for a certain era? (i.e., contemporary, vintage 20's, Victorian, Renaissance, etc.)
- Do you prefer certain colors, fabrics or flowers?
- Do you have a certain dress style or length in mind?
- Time of Year-Spring and Summer can offer you more casual flexibility, even outdoors, while Fall and Winter are perfect seasons for formal candlelight receptions.
- Time of Day-Morning and afternoon weddings are typically followed by brunch or luncheon receptions, while late afternoon or evening weddings precede cocktail or dinner receptions.
- Ethnic Customs-ethnicity and family traditions may play a big role in determining your wedding celebration. This applies to both the ceremony and the reception. Wedding traditions can vary from country to country, region to region, and even from state to state. Be sure to keep family customs-both sides-in mind when planning your day.
- Indoor vs. Outdoor-A garden atmosphere with a gazebo or tent will create an entirely different feel than a formal hotel, country inn or banquet hall.