Getting engaged is a giddy, exciting time. But planning the actual wedding isn’t always so blissful. That’s because keeping expenses in check is a huge concern for couples, says Sharon Naylor, author of 1,001 Ways to Save Money…and Still Have a Dazzling Wedding. She shares tips on how to steer clear of the five most common planning pitfalls. That way, you can throw the wedding of your dreams without breaking the bank.
Get Real With Your Budget
Many couples experience sticker shock as soon as they start planning for their wedding. Soon after getting engaged, discuss your priorities and determine what percentage of your monthly income can be put toward wedding festivities—then set that money aside into a wedding fund. “You should each make a list of five things that are most important to you,” Naylor says, and the cost of those key elements will provide a baseline for a realistic budget.
See If Family Will Chip In
“Sometimes in the blush of excitement, parents will say they want to give X amount, but then other unexpected expenses come up,” Naylor says. If parents don’t bring up contributing, you can broach the subject by saying, “We’re starting to build the budget for the wedding, and we’d like to know if there’s anything you want to help plan.” This phrasing helps open the dialogue without putting Mom and Dad in an awkward position.
Read the Fine Print
With each vendor contract, note details like whether any tips are already included (catering, waitstaff, hair and makeup, band, DJs and transportation all typically earn tips), or what time rentals need to be returned. Not knowing about these extras may leave you paying double in tips or incurring late charges. And don’t forget to line-item miscellaneous costs like gifts for the wedding party, jewelry insurance and the marriage license.
Don’t Get Stuck On Your Inspiration Board
Mood boards are meant to serve as inspiration, not exact blueprints. Share photos of weddings that inspire you, but be open to vendors’ suggestions that can help your day be beautiful and affordable. Flowers tend to be the quickest cost to mushroom, followed by decor, Naylor says. Florists can suggest more affordable in-season blooms, and your caterer can help you do the same for the menu.
Keep the Guest List in Check
Set up guidelines with your partner to prevent your wedding size from spiraling out of control. If there’s family pressure to invite distant relatives, Naylor suggests saying: “We have to go by X number due to what the space allows.” When it comes to work colleagues, discuss who warrants an invite (say, if office diplomacy dictates that someone’s Big Boss is a must), then build that into your budget. For plus-ones, Naylor likes the rule of only inviting couples with whom you’ve socialized.
Once you’ve planned your dream wedding, check out our smart money tips for newlyweds.
By Sarah Bruning