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Your Wedding Budget and Budget Issues
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Money and budgeting issues are the items of greatest concern to the bride and groom (and their families) in planning a wedding. They tend also to be the most stressful particularly when it comes to agreeing on which family will pay for what. Decisions here are not easy. Because most people need to function within some budgetary parameters, there is the challenge of planning a beautiful event, while staying within financial constraints. That translates into getting the most for you money. Because families often need to negotiate, this is a place where planning and organization, plus compassion and compromises are absolutely necessary.

The following percentages offer a breakdown of the major budgetary items. When preparing your budget, it is a good rule of thumb to remember the 10% rule . . . it is likely that almost everything will cost 10 percent more than you expect. There also are always unexpected items that somehow materialize. They too need to be plugged into your calculations.

  • Reception facilities: 3%
  • Caterer (food, cake, liquor): 40%
  • Flowers: 8%
  • Entertainment: 10%
  • Clothing: 14%
  • Photographer: 7%
  • Videographer: optional
  • Invitations & other printed matter: 4%
  • Religious supplies: optional
  • Gifts: 4%
  • Transportation: 2%
  • Miscellaneous: 8%
  • Decorations
    Hair & Beauty supplies & services
    Accommodations for out-of-town guests
    Accommodations for bridal party
    Party Favors

    WH0 PAYS FOR WHAT (or, "Are them days gone forever?")
    The strict definition of division of expenses between bride's side and groom's side is a line that has blurred with time. The list below is the "traditional" version, which is still followed in some circles. You, of course, will need to redefine this list to suit your particular circumstances.

  • groom's ring
  • bride's gift to the groom
  • gifts to bride's attendants
  • bride's personal stationery
  • accommodations for her out of town guests
  • beauty appointments

  • engagement party
  • printed materials
  • bride's clothes & accessories
  • flowers
  • music
  • photography
  • hosting expenses for bride's attendants
  • transportation for the bride & her attendants
  • reception, catering & facilities, site fee
  • venue decor, including items such as aisle runner and candles

  • bride's engagement & wedding rings
  • groom's gift to the bride
  • marriage license
  • groom's gifts to his ushers and best man
  • flowers for the bride and mothers' corsages
  • accessories (excluding tuxedos) for ushers (includes flowers)
  • grooms & ushers' transportation
  • clergyman's fee
  • honeymoon expenses

  • groom's clothing & accessories
  • their clothes for the wedding
  • travel expenses they might incur
  • wedding gift for the couple [often their payment for part(s) of the wedding]
  • Optional: rehearsal dinner

    What is, of course, most important is to remember that getting your wedding expenses covered is an act of love. You must always keep in mind not only the financial constraints of those involved, but also their philosophies on wedding expenses. In some families, the sky's the limit, while in others moderation is the key. Work hard at keeping things here under control, because this is usually the area that creates the most dissension and creates bad memories.

    Back again to that challenge of making your wedding fabulous while keeping in the monetary framework to which everyone has agreed. These are some ways in which you can trim your budget, while maintaining the quality of your wedding.
    1. Reduce the guest list.
    2. Downsize from an elaborate affair to a less formal stand-up reception (buffet or hors d'oeuvres) or a brunch.
    3. The largest single elements in your food cost are beverages and the bar. Ask about "open bar" packages that are per person regardless of consumption and allow you to have a fixed sum in your budget. Consider closing the bar during dinner to reduce the number of hours beverages are served. You can also consider an alcohol-free affair.
    4. Check with the hotel or catering hall for their prime time. Midday tends to be less expensive than evening. Sundays and weekdays are less than Saturday nights.
    5. Make certain not to overlap the standard six hour blocks. Reception venues charge extra for daytime affairs that spill over into evening hours.
    6. Time of year is also a factor that influences cost. Peak months are April-May-June and September-October-November. Saturday evenings in December are usually booked for holiday parties. So, try for "off season" and the rates should be better on the catering hall and on lodging.
    7. Instead of a catering hall, change the venue to a backyard, or a multipurpose room (VFW, firehouse, etc.).
    8. Consider an "off" season. June and December holiday time are peak times with peak prices. Go "off" season instead.
    9. Include some do-it-yourself elements to your event (e.g., clothing, party favors, table decorations, addressing invitations, invitations, etc.).
    10. "Double book" the church and share the cost of flowers with the wedding or event that precedes yours.
    11. Look for bargains.
    12. Economize on the professional services you are planning (i.e., a small band, a DJ, less photos, eliminate video, floral packages, personal mementos as attendant gifts, combine parties, previously owned clothing, etc.).

      Whatever ways in which you trim your budget, remember that your guests are coming to share your joyous occasion not to calculate your finances. Do whatever you do, as well as you can and trust that the people who love you will find that just fine!

  • Consider the purchase of "wedding day insurance." Many insurance companies now offer policies that will cover accidents prior to and on your wedding day.

    We would be delighted of you can share any of the ways in which you made budgeting more stress-free in planning your wedding. Please E-mail us and make sure to tell us if we may use your name when we add your suggestions. We appreciate your participation, and thank you in advance.
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