As a planner, I LOVE engagement season. This is the time when couples get engaged and start looking for a professional wedding planner to assist them with their special day. Upon receiving that 1st phone call or e-mail, one of the main questions I ask..."Have you and your fiancee' discussed budget?" A lot of times, I get the answer, "Yes," but then there are those couples that say..."No," or "I don't think we really need a budget." Well if you have said that in your mind or out loud - SIT down - this blog is for you!
First off, please let me say...Do not start hiring vendors until you have discussed budget with your husband-to-be. Write down your wedding day desires as you begin to formulate a spending strategy. During the planning process, it's so easy to go over budget, so having an idea of what you are able to spend will alleviate tons of stress. If there is going to be any parental or family contributions, make sure you let them know how the monies will be spent.
Think of hosting your wedding during "off-season". In Chicago, wedding season typically runs from April through October and vendors might not be as flexible with negotiations as they would during the "off-season" months of November through March. Also, Saturdays are still the most expensive day to have a wedding & reception. To cut costs, think of having your wedding on a Friday or Sunday.
Second, AFTER you have selected your ceremony and reception venue, decide what are the three most important things to you as a couple as you plan your special day (food, beverage, photography, videography, cake, invitations, etc.) and seek out those vendors first as you do your research. Note, your reception food and beverage will take up 40-60% of your budget depending on your selections. You can always cut that cost down by inviting a smaller number of guests, not hosting an evening reception or decrease the bar down to beer, wine and a signature drink versus a premium bar.
Lastly, remember the hidden expenses that can easily add up and bust your budget. Make sure to ask vendors about taxes and additional charges, and make sure they are included on the contract before signing. I also suggest putting 3-5% of your budget to the side for those miscellaneous items that you just can't live without.
Until next time...WEDologize!