Wedding Budget Advice

Wedding Budget Advice
 

With Pinterest, reality TV shows, and live celebrity weddings, planning for your special day may seem impossible in terms of budget. Of course, you can have a fabulous wedding without blowing your budget, but you first need to ignore all the false expectations around you. Yes, you may find an awesome wedding account to follow on Instagram, but that's all it is ... an Instagram account, not reality. And yes, you may still pin away on your Pinterest, but don't forget that the images you see are probably not what many can afford. Remember, you are about to start a life with the person you love, and you probably plan on using your money for other significant milestones besides your wedding day. 

The most important thing to do before starting to plan your big day is to assess your finances. Figure out how much you have in the bank, then decide how much you can spend. If you have any debt, it's best to pay that off first. Now I'm talking about credit cards, student loans, etc. not a mortgage or your monthly car payments. If you can't pay off your "smaller" debts in time for the wedding, it's best to keep a savings account separate from your wedding purchases to ensure that debt is being paid off, and is not being postponed due to your wedding day. I cannot stress how important this is. It's important to understand that a wedding is a day for your families to come together, and celebrate your love, and life together. It's the celebration of a promise. It is not your job to ensure that everybody is happy with your choice of colours, decorations, flowers, etc. If you want to apply for a loan in order to pay for your wedding, make sure you check interest rates and put a plan in process while planning your wedding so that you can pay off that loan as soon as possible. This might mean that every week, you and your fiancé contribute $800 ($400 each) while planning for your wedding.

Next, talk to your parents about your budget. Figure out who's contributing to any of your wedding cost, and how much they are willing to spend. These days many couples pay for their weddings themselves, however a lucky few do you have parents, grandparents and other relatives who are willing to contribute a little something for the new couple. Once you know how much money you can spend, and if anyone is going to help you pay for your wedding, it's time for you to set your priorities. Figure out what's most important for you and your fiancé. If you both think pictures and music are more important than the venue, plan your money accordingly. If you do not know your priorities, you will not be able to budget properly, and may regret not booking your preferred vendor in time. 

It's also important to decide how you will track your expenses. I always suggest to consider creating a separate bank account for your wedding expenses. That way you know how much is going in and out at all times. Also, consider signing up for a credit card that provides some type of reward - but don't open a credit card if you know you can't keep up with payments. You can also always switch one of your credit cards to an award credit card so that it could help you possibly pay off other expenses. For example, many banks offer an Aeroplan Visa which could pay for your honeymoon flight. However, before signing up for any credit card make sure to do the research and read the fine print. 

Before you start the budget, come up with a guest list. Your first list should include anyone and everyone that you both would like to invite to your wedding. Then take a look at the list again and try to narrow down the most important people you want to be there. Family first, then friends. Please do not give into the pressure of parents asking you to invite their friends as well. They might have known you since you were a baby, but if you haven't communicated with them in a year (Facebook likes don't count), then cut them from the list. The biggest expense of your wedding is the headcount, as most venues and catering vendors charge per person. They will quote you around the amount of people you plan on having at your wedding. It's important for you to know how many people will be there because almost all vendors will ask you how many people are you expecting. Those who are not invited to the wedding can still be invited to any pre-wedding ceremonies such as the engagement party, bridal shower, etc. if you don't plan on having any pre-wedding ceremonies then don't sweat it.

The wedding setting, along with the date and time is the next thing to consider. Depending on where you want to have your wedding, your cost will vary. Some venues seem expensive, but offer other services that may be beneficial to you, such as in-house catering. Check out at least three venues before deciding on one. Do not be afraid to negotiate with vendors, but be realistic. You do not want to insult them, and you still want them to do a good job. This is why it's important to consider your wedding date and time. If you plan on having your wedding in the summer, keep in mind that venues almost double their price, especially on a Saturday. If you plan a wedding outside of wedding season you can be save a lot of money as venues are looking for people, as opposed to the other way around. Furthermore, some couples believe having a backyard wedding will save them money, when it can actually cost more than a venue, especially if the backyard is not suitable for a larger event. When planning an outdoor wedding you must consider comfort along with the weather. Costs can add up as you install a platform (grass won't work), tenting, rent tables and chairs, hook up music, and paying a liquor fee if your city requires you to do so. There are many rules to follow in regulation with city bylaws, even if it is your own backyard. The last thing you want is to be charged a fee that could pay for a whole other wedding. 

Although you may find many websites that offer an average wedding cost, you can't really rely on those statistics as every couple is different. Some couples may spend $5000, others $30,000 or more. If you feel like you have no idea what you are doing, consider booking a few appointments with the wedding planner, or a finance advisor. You will have to pay a fee upfront, but they'll keep you on the right track, and save you a lot of time and money in the long run. 

Although this is not a complete list, overall cost to consider include: Wedding planner,  ceremony (officiant fee, location, accessories), reception venue (rentals, taxes, tips, service charges), catering, bar, cake and other sweets, flowers, decorations, music and other entertainment, transportation, accommodations, photography and videography, invitations and other stationary, favours and gifts, attire, hair and makeup, other grooming, and wedding rings. 

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