It’s the year of destiny: only 264 days left until we climb the alter steps and say our vows. This discussion of budgeting blog entry has come as reluctantly at the actual process of budgeting. Alison and I have had many intense conversations about what we could and should spend on our wedding day, and I’ll be the first to tell you that arriving at a certain level of agreement hasn’t been easy to obtain. We both started with different dreams and visions, concepts of reality and acceptable spending, trying to find middle ground. I would have been happy committing ourselves in front of a small group of closest family and friends, and celebrating in a happy but modest manner, with beer and American Chinese food – chicken fingers and crab Rangoon would have been fine with me! But of course, I know a beautiful bride fantasizes from a young age (as do parents) of a more extravagant day of celebration, and rightfully so.
It really started out with the largest consideration of a wedding: number of guests. We bounced around quite a bit, from a tiny figure to one that included over 150 individuals. After taking a serious look at the cost-per-person at our venue, the Hampden Country Club in Hampden, Mass., we decided that at most, we could have 118 others on the final guest list to celebrate formally with us – ourselves included, 120 in total. Needless to say, with all the wonderful people we love and care about, coming up with this final guest list would not be an easy task either, though it would need to be done, important matters of dollars and sense and making a sound financial decision to start our life together. At a rate of about sixty-ish dollars per person, you can do the math on the heftiest portion of our wedding spending, fortunately assisted in great part by Alison’s parents. (Alison and I, in all honestly, haven’t saved a whole lot for our wedding day, though we’ve now committed to squeezing out a few hundred dollars each month toward the cause.) The reception, we decided, would be 45% of our wedding budget. From there, we made decisions to skimp on the areas of flowers and decorations, hard-bargain a bit on the DJ (a generous friend/colleague of mine) and the hotel accommodations (with the advice of a friend – good stuff to come later, so stay tuned!), and ask some talented family members to help with supply some music for the ceremony. We even decided that our rehearsal dinner would be held at a fun, local Chinese restaurant, to save quite a bit over hosting it at a fancier, more expensive location. (YES, I got my crab Rangoon after all!)
Getting down to more concrete percentages for a modestly priced wedding celebration – that means, you’ve got less than $15,000 in total to “toss around” – a good rule of thumb for your planning is to budget approximately 40% of your total spending on the reception (food/beverage); 8-10% on your entertainment (of course, I’d encourage upwards of 12% to ensure a really memorable experience, though I’m obviously a bit biased); 8-10% on bridal attire; 10-12% on photography/videography (you want to capture your treasured memories on something other than just brain memory); with the remaining percentages, you can be discretionary on things like save-the-dates and invitations, table cards and favors, hair and nails (always important), transportation, and other items. As we’re doing, please don’t overlook the opportunity to create some of these at home, with friends and family, to save some dough and have some added fun. Please do not forget to include in your budgeting the cost of your church rental and Pre-Cana fees (if you’re getting married Catholic, obviously), wedding rings, gifts for the wedding party, vendor gratuities, and of course, your three week honeymoon to a private bungalow in Tahiti (best of luck with that one!).
[If you want a handy tool to help with your budgeting, check this out! http://planning.theknot.com/wedding-budget]
Budgeting is NOT fun by any stretch, but it’s certainly a good exercise in communication, healthy negotiation and working together, to tackle a tricky problem – something from which your future life as husband and wife will unquestionably benefit.
Coming up in our next Diary entry, we’ll talk hotel accommodation negotiations, and there will be a guest-entry from my fiancée Alison on her bridal and brides-maid dress shopping experiences. Thanks for reading!
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