Before you decide if you're honeymooning in the south of France or that all your wedding guests will drink Krug Champagne at your reception, you must create your budget. Don't fret if you're not a math whiz. This isn't rocket science or anything close. The key to a good budget is being organized.
Start a spreadsheet with a line for every possible item that could cost you money. In the next column, plug in numbers of what you believe or want the costs will be. In your third column, insert the actual costs. Continue working along the page with deposits made, with room for notes on when they were made, and when your next deposit is due.
Next, open a separate joing checking account for your wedding. Put all contributions in here, including those from yourselves. Pay for everything wedding-related out of this account, and you'll be able to keep track of your wedding spending, as well as keep you away from using a credit card, a potential pitfall for wedding planning. You don't want to go into debt for your wedding.
In straight weddings, there's a history about the groom's side picking up the tab for the rehearsal dinner and the wedding flowers, while the bride's side pays for the reception and the photography. But what to do when there are two brides or two grooms? Don't let yourself get caught up in customs that don't interest you. Customs are merely that; there are no hard-and-fast rules. Modern-day weddings dictate that it doesn't matter who pays for what. What's most important is that people pay for what their comfortable with or interested in.
Many same-sex couples foot the bill for their own weddings, but there are those with supportive families who are both able and willing to shell out cash for the big day. If your parents or other family members are taking care of any or all of the bill—you need to speak with them about what they plan to contribute.
Set up a time to speak with them (preferably in person). You may want to do this on your own, without your fiance(e). Or you might want all parents, grandparents and other family contributors to meet as one large group. Generally though, people tend to want to speak about their finances privately.
Some parents may ask to see estimates before offering a certain dollar amount of what they'll give. Other parents simply may not be able to financially help at all. And others will want to know what other people are giving before they volunteer their contributions.
Realizing what your true budget is might shock you. You may have dreamt of a $100,000 wedding, and you may find out you've only got $30,000 to spend. You may have planned out the perfect $25,000 wedding, only to learn it's going to be a $5,000 affair.
Set Your Priorities
Decide what's important to you. Is it the photography and the flowers? Or the attire and the reception venue? Once you know what truly matters, you'll be able to graciously make concessions on other items where the budget needs skimming.
Once you have your budget in order, you and your partner must remain honest about what you can afford, and how you'll budget it all out. If you have $20,000 to spend, a $10,000 spur-of-the-moment purchase on a fairytale wedding gown would not be a wise choice.
You will be tempted throughout the planning process, whether it's with miniature customized wedding cake favors or out-of-season peonies, but stick to your guns for most things with a few indulgent splurges, and you'll be fine. Allow for going over 10 percent of your budget, but no more.
|A guideline to breaking down a wedding budget|
|Reception (venue, food, drink)||40 percent|
|Wedding rings||8 percent|
|Rehearsal dinner||6 percent|
|Attire (gowns and suits)||8 percent|
|Hair and makeup||2 percent|
|Invitations (and save-the-dates)||2 percent|
|Ceremony music||2 percent|
|Ceremony site||2 percent|
|Wedding cake||2 percent|