For some people, planning comes naturally. For the rest of us, well, big events like a wedding can get downright overwhelming!
This is especially true for those with young kids, full-time jobs, intervening relatives, and soon-to-be step-relatives who all have their own input on what makes for a perfect wedding. While it may be tempting to just try and include everyone's ideas or push these stressful responsibilities off til the last minute, both these situations are recipes for going way over an intended budget. Take a look at our quick checklist below to help you better organize your thoughts, keep your budget at the forefront, and plan out the perfect wedding for you and your significant other!
Your Checklist to Building the Perfect Wedding Budget
First off, it's a good idea to give yourself at least one year to plan your wedding. This will give you time to find to shop around for things like best venue rates and professional packages. So, at the 12-month mark, here are some items to start considering:
- Set a Guest Count - Before you select a venue, the very first thing to consider is how many people you want to invite to your wedding. One of the biggest elements people underestimate is how tied together guest count and total costs are. In almost all cases, the cost of a wedding will be based on the guest count. The more guests you want to include, the bigger the venue you will need and the more food and alcohol you will be expected to provide -- both of these will likely be two of your largest expenses.
- Set the Date & Reserve the Venue - Once you've set your guest count, the next step is to reserve the venue. Keep in mind that, in general, Saturday and Sunday weddings are the most expensive dates to reserve but also the most flexible for your guests. Begin researching which venues will fit that amount and then reach out to learn more about reservation costs. Also, note that prices for venues may fluctuate significantly depending upon the season and geographical area you choose. For example, a March wedding in St. Petersburg, Florida will be more expensive than a March wedding in New York City.
- Determine Your Non-Negotiables. In order to craft and build the perfect wedding budget, you'll also need to sit down with your significant other and determine your non-negotiables. The best way of doing this is planning a night-in, grabbing a bottle of wine or your favorite beverage, and mapping out what each of you really wants to see at the wedding. Start off with the question: What one wedding-related item is at the top of your priority list? For your fiance, that might mean an open bar, while for you it's a certain band or musician playing at the reception. In whatever case, determine now how important these must-haves are, what you're willing to negotiate on, and what needs to be considered in the final wedding budget.
Finalizing Your Preliminary Budget & Next Steps
Once you know the date, guest count, venue, and the non-negotiables, you'll be able to calculate a general cost for the wedding. For many wedding professionals -- caterers, photographers, florists, etc. -- the costs will depend upon the guest count. Call around and get a general estimate for these items and then consider your finances. You may find there are things you need to trim out of the plan, things you can add that you didn't think possible, or the need to crowdfund your wedding to cover expenses.
One option for those who find themselves needing some help to fund their perfect wedding is dreamOway. DreamOwayis a social crowdfunding app that allows users to showcase their dream plans, such as their dream wedding, and have friends, families, coworkers, and others outside their immediate network donate to help that dream become a reality. Visit their website to learn more about how they can help.