On to the discussion of the “dreaded” budget. Surprisingly, even though we are in the wedding industry, we really did not have any idea how much the other vendors would cost us. We of course had a good idea of photography rates, but most of the time we just know who we work well with in the industry and who does a great job, but not necessarily what they charge. So….to begin our budget, we first knew when we wanted to have the wedding. The date we wanted put us with a 15 month engagement. Next we discussed what we felt would be a fair number that we thought we could pull off a wedding (again, this is before we had all quotes in). We decided $30,000 seemed reasonable.
Now many couples are still fortunate enough that they have help from their parents, and some parents even foot the bill still here in the South. Be very, very grateful if this is the case. Our parents were not in a position to do this, so we were paying for the wedding ourselves. (Both our parents did give us a little bit of money before all was said and done, and for that we were very grateful.) We, however, also realized that by paying for the wedding ourselves we were free to make decisions as we saw fit. We did not have to deal with any politics of pleasing parents and bending to their wishes. We have pretty awesome parents, so I don’t think this would have been an issue even if it were flipped. But I see it all the time with couples that may want something different, but feel the need to adhere to their parent’s wishes because they are paying. Having that sense of freedom helped alleviate any unwanted stress on the budget.
Once we had our overall number in mind, we divided that by 15 months and realized we’d have to set aside $2000 a month. This was feasible for us still, so we began meeting with vendors. (The vendor post will be next!) Being in the industry, you may think that we had hook ups left and right — we had a couple of sweet ones — and a couple of discounts along the way, but we were still paying. I’d say in the first week after contacting those we were interested in, and meeting with most, that we had to realistically raise the budget by $10,000. I will note however, that this also included our honeymoon.
The reception of course was our most expensive ticket item. We knew we were expecting right around 150 guests. After the reception, not surprisingly, our photography costs were the next biggest investment. I’ll be honest, we spent about $7500 on photography — and yes folks, that was without an album included! But we realized the importance of photography, and after all the other money was spent — the photos and our video — would be all that was left to show for it all. Which is why I refer to it as an investment, because we had a huge return in the end.
After the need/priority of having everything well documented — we wanted to throw a really great party for our guests. This meant we wanted to have an amazing band to keep everyone going. Doug actually had all of that lined up though before even asking me to marry him!
I had to be convinced of the need for a wedding planner, but after meeting with Valerie, I was on board from there with that one! All of the other expenses fell into place after that. Those were the major ticket items though. I also did use the budget guide in the back of the NOW magazine, and I printed out the budget planner from my Knot.com account. Those were very useful in the initial planning to help me guesstimate some of the smaller items.
I’m sure like most people, we had areas where we went a little bit over budget, and then we had areas where we came in under budget. (My dress was actually an under budget item!! I was so proud of myself!) And like most people, we had our items that were of high priority, and those that we could give a little. I recommend discussing your order of importance at the beginning of your budget so you have an idea from the start of what you may concede on and what you may pay a little more for, and areas where you feel you could cut back.
In the very end, I’m happy to report that I’m pretty sure we came in right around $2-3000 under budget. Woohoo!!!
I do have a short, funny story about over-tipping though!! On the actual wedding day it’s a good idea to have a bit of extra cash around for any unexpected expenses or tips that you wish to give. We did this as well. Rather impromptu, we decided I would ride to the First Look in a pedi-cab. So I had the money needed for that. They had just started the pedi-cab services, so it was more or less by donation back then. When we pulled up to Jackson Square for me to see Doug, my adrenaline was going, and I was so excited to see Doug that I tipped each of the drivers $20 for about a 7 min pedi-cab ride!!!! Haha!! Doug told me I wasn’t allowed to tip anyone else for the rest of the day!! I was having fun though! :D
Up Next….the Vendor Selections….