Happy Days All!
Having been planning a wedding the last couple months, I came to a stark realization; Pinterest was designed to make normal humans, like me, feel incredibly inadequate and unrefined. As I stumbled across photos that captured the release of some vibrant butterflies into a pristine blue sky during a beautiful couple’s vows, all I could think of was 1) how long were those poor butterflies in the boxes and 2) where does one order such a pristine clear blue sky for their wedding?
The madness must stop! So today, I bring you the first installment of my Clumsy Lady’s Guide to Being a Bride: A real life, rustic (and no I don’t mean the beautiful rustic with the burlap and tin, I mean the “rustic” like when your cat accidentally sits on your un-baked pie crust but you serve it anyways) version of wedding planning. Today’s topic is wedding costs.
I’ll start by saying, disclaimer– I pass no judgement on how much anyone does or doesn’t spend on their wedding. What I’ve realized, first and foremost while planning my own wedding, is that there isn’t a right or wrong way to have a wedding. There are so many expectations of what you SHOULD do but I say to hell with it! Do it your way, that way if everyone else hates it, at least you know 1 person who likes it!
Categorize your priorities
When we began creating our budget, we inadvertently created a priorities list. For example: at one point I think we allotted 25% of our budget toward alcoholic beverages and less than 1% of the budget on my dress and decorations. These obviously weren’t going to end up being the real amount of $ spent, but it did show us one thing at a glance: having an abundance of booze was more important than the way the venue (or I) were going to look. #Priorities.
We did this with the rest of the categories we found via weddingwire.com and pretty easily came up with a list that we felt good about with our “must haves” at the top (great music, food and booze) and our “can leave out” at the bottom (flowers, party favors and cake.) This made it SUPER easy to just cut out the bottom of the list (because why spend money on stuff you really don’t care about) and put that money towards the items that were more important to us.
I say this now having looked and thought…and thought…and thought….about all of the items on the list and went back and fourth a little bit after speaking to other brides/friends/dogs/strangers. But if I have any advice for you about your priorities list, have confidence in what YOU want.
Visit your Venue’s most expensive to least expensive.
Steven and I looked at a dozen wedding venues online and then narrowed it down to about 3 that we would visit. We didn’t mean to, but we ended up visiting the most expensive one first and the cheapest one last which worked out GREAT. At the most expensive venue, you can see how much you get for a price tag at the top of your budget. During this visit, you will likely learn more about what is and isn’t included in the price tag and how they charge.
Tip: Before you go, work on keeping your facial expressions completely neutral even when you hear shocking news so you can keep a straight face when the venue tells you they charge an extra 8 dollars for anyone who walks in who has a head and an extra 3 dollars if they have hair on that head.
A good example of understanding cost: While a venue may not charge for the space rental, they may charge a really high cost per person or require that your 20% of your guests stay at the hotel for a minimum for 2 nights. Another example is that a price tag that you see online may only be bare bones and anything extra you want with cost X (now making that venue out of your price range). Because we visited the most expensive first with all of the fixings, and the cheapest one last, we were able to easily see what we would not be getting as our visits continued and if we really cared about it! Again, it really comes down to your priority list. After a day of high price tags, fancy chandeliers, shiny marble floors and a big headache, we ended up choosing our last venue, the simplest of the three, because we realized….we’re pretty simple!
Give yourself wiggle room
Wedding costs are never what you think they are. When you decide on your budget, subtract 20% of it. Try to work within that lower number because there are a lot of costs that don’t show on the price tag. The chairs come with the venue, right? No. The caterer cost includes gratuity , correct? No. I’m not saying it is unfair– a venue can’t just have an unlimited supply of chairs sitting around and your caterers deserve to be tipped! They are just costs that are a bit sneaky that can end up throwing off your perfectly planned budget. Keep a chunk to the side to help cover the costs so you aren’t surprised in the end!
Do what you can and be proud!
Everyone’s budgetary limits are different and that is OK! If things get overwhelming and the costs keep climbing, try not to fret! Yes, while this is an important day just remember, the BIGGEST success is that you’ve found someone to put up with you for the rest of your life. The rest is just icing on top of the cake. Remember, YOU are throwing a party for all of your friends/family…and they are there for YOU and your partner. Not the cake, not the decorations…maybe the booze, but mostly YOU. Have a wedding the way you want it and be proud of the amazing party, no matter how small or big, and be proud!
Thanks for my friends at WeddingWire for helping out with this blog post! If you want to see more budget resources, check out their Wedding Cost Guide to help you along the way!