wedding budget planning mason jar on coins

Let’s Be Cent-sible: Taking the Pain Out of Talking Budgets

October 31, 2019

Money. Such a gauche topic in just about any setting, but an unavoidable, driving factor throughout your wedding planning roadmap. As appealing as that couture dress is, and as tempting as it is to make your grand exit in a rented Cessna, it’s important to be realistic right from the start about what you can afford, and how you want to apportion your funds. Let’s get started.

Frank Financing with the Fiancé

This should be your easiest conversation, since you know a heck of a lot about each other, and ideally this isn’t the first time you’ve discussed general finances. But seeing as how this is likely the most expensive party you’ll ever throw, there can be differing opinions on what is a necessary spend and what isn’t, and how much money you’re both willing to part with to make your dream wedding come true.

Firstly, be direct about what you’re both willing to spend out-of-pocket, and how comfortable either of you are with financing any portion of it. This is an essential discussion, as many couples disagree on what is a reasonable amount to devote to your wedding. Remember, this isn’t a power struggle. This is the very first day of your marriage you are planning. Go into it on the same page, and satisfied with what you both are contributing.

From there, set your priorities. Our planning guide will help outline possible expenses and will help establish what’s most important to both you and your fiancé.Your new hubby’s only ask might be his favorite local metal band, which costs three quarters of your budget. Well, ask him what he’s willing to sacrifice to pay for that. Either he needs to skimp on food or slim down the guest list, or find extra money for those melodic screams of his dreams.

For the love of all that is holy, give your vendors an honest budget.

By the time you have reached the point of prospecting for wedding services, you should have a firm budget per category, give or take a few dollars. When you approach your potential baker for instance, the amount you are willing to spend on your confectionaries should be flashing on your forehead like a neon sign. It can be a natural fear to talk costs, for fear of appearing cheap or that they will try to push you into a higher echelon of spend.

There isn’t a vendor in the world who doesn’t want to know what you can afford, because they need to know what they can offer within your range. Melissa with Bank of Flowers notes, “By being open with your budget we can create beautiful arrangements that are realistic to what you can afford.” Your budget limitations don’t hinder her work, they make it easier so as not to waste your time, or hers, with creations that aren’t feasible. With a limitless budget she may fly in out-of-season Pampas from Argentina. But she won’t tempt you with wildly costly ideas if she knows in advance what your constraints are.

The vendors you are considering have seen it all. They have worked with shoestring budgets and Daddy Warbucks and everything in between. Trust that your business is valuable to them, because the event industry is there to serve every end of the market. You will know you have found your vendor when you present what you’re willing to spend, and they excitedly dive right in with how they can accommodate you. As Melissa would attest, “This process should be fun and non-stressful, and by having the budget we can create beautiful florals within your realm.”

Use their experience and expertise to guide you, and let them open your mind to the possibilities of what your budget can create.

The “F” Word. (Family.)

Unless you and your fiancé are lifelong orphans, you are likely planning this wedding with a lot of family expectations to consider. Parents and grandparents tend to have a lot of opinions, and by and large, those opinions cost money. Guest count, location, food and drink, you name it. Everyone has their preferences, and the conversation of what you’re willing to accommodate can get dicey. It’s pretty awkward declining your father-in-law’s polka band demands. But accordionists cost money.

Many of our elders got married eons ago. Not only has inflation changed what a steak costs today as compared to 1972, but weddings are a different business in the modern day. Explaining to Grandma that her Moose Lodge buffet was practically free as compared to a full service meal in this millennium will help temper her expectations. Showing the costs, and even printing off average pricing for wedding services from the internet, may help your family understand why their entire bowling team simply cannot attend.

Things get trickier when incorporating your family’s money into the budget. While this can be manna from heaven in many cases, it also can mean they have veto power over selections. If your parents are offering to pay for your dress for instance, your fantasy dress may not be their fantasy dress, and you might feel pressured into wearing your mom’s favorite instead of your own top pick. Yikes. In a perfect world their money is truly a guilt-free, no-strings-attached gift. In the event it is not, however, be firm on what you’re willing to negotiate and what you aren’t, and be prepared to pay for the things they won’t.

Most importantly, keep it all in perspective. The pressures and stress of wedding planning invariably include budgeting and satisfying so many people. The goal is to enter into your marriage feeling complete comfort in what you, your spouse, and any family has spent, and have gotten some degree of joy from every expense. Be up front, be firm where you need to be, and flexible where you can be. And somewhere in there, try to have fun.