The wedding budget is, without a doubt, one of the biggest concerns for the newly-engaged couple looking to minimize the fiscal impact of a wedding shindig. While budgets sound like easily-maintainable lists and figures when you’re getting started, they can quickly spiral out of control during the planning process. Little expenses pile up, guest lists blossom into twice your intended number, and small charges, such as tips and tax, sneak up on you. Here are a few tips for keeping on top of your wedding budget without spending every night slaving over a spreadsheet:
- Compile a wedding budget FIRST
While it may seem like a good strategy to figure out your guest list or ideal ambiance first, that isn’t necessarily step one in your list of things to do now that you’re newly engaged. Ideally, your first step is figuring out how much you have to work with. You may be dreaming big, but if you set your heart on 200 guests or custom dance floors before crunching the numbers, it will be much harder to scale back your expectations. Figure out your budget, and then decide on the style and guest count of your day. You can swing larger numbers or swankier décor if you scale back in the other department, but you should be prepared to do that from the get-go.
- Know where your funds are coming from before spending them
On that subject – who is paying for your wedding? If it’s all coming from your own pocket the numbers become simpler, but if either family has pledged to chip in or shoulder the bulk of the finances, things can become complicated quickly. While you know your family better than anyone, it’s always best to hold off on spending money until the cash is in hand. While your aunt may have mentioned that she’d pay for your wedding gown, don’t go off and buy the perfect dress without knowing for sure that they money is coming in. Ideally, have your aunt (or parent or future in-law or whoever) pay first-hand instead of promising reimbursement. This way, the individual financing the expense has a hand in the wedding experience and you can be sure you won’t be stuck with a larger slice of the pie than you anticipated.
The last bit of advice – don’t forget about the budget, even if you feel that you’re “probably staying in range” of your original discussion. Small expenses, such as favors, tips, or invitation upgrades, can add up quickly and derail an otherwise foolproof wedding budget. Keep lines of communication open between all spending parties, and anticipate holding a few casual meetings to catch up with the budget as planning continues.