YOU ARE ENGAGED! YAY!
The first thing you need to do when planning your wedding or elopement is to Determine a BUDGET. This THE most important thing you'll do and having a budget in place from day one will make the process easier (even with the hard decisions you have to make!)
Budgets are something that I get asked about a lot...
"What's the average budget that you need to get married in Southern Utah"
"Our budget is X amount - is that enough for our destination wedding?"
"How much should I budget for our wedding/elopement?"
"Is this enough budget for (insert vendor here - cake, flowers, venue etc.)?"
Unfortunately, my answer is usually the same.... "It totally depends on your priorities!"
Your wedding budget is a big numbers game based on the things that are most important for YOU and YOUR LOVER! For example, I can't tell a couple that "$x.xx" is enough of a budget for flowers because their answer depends on how important flowers are to them! In my head, I'm thinking.... "I love flowers and this is important for me so I know I need more of a budget" but someone else might be thinking "I only need a bouquet and a bout." because my bridesmaids are holding puppies and I don't really like flowers period! Our 'budget' amount for flowers will look VERY DIFFERENT!
Here are some easy steps to help you start putting together your unique budget:
PRIORITIES - start by making a list of your top 3 priorities and 3 lowest priorities, What are the things you KNOW YOU WANT at your wedding and are willing to spend just a little bit extra? Is it late night snacks? flowers? the venue? What are the most important parts of your wedding day? AND on the reverse side? What do you not care so much about? flowers? invites? cake? Knowing these priorities will help as you create your budget but also as you're booking vendors so that you know what you're willing to sacrifice to get something you can't live without!
RESEARCH - there are a million 'average cost breakdowns' for weddings and pricing totally depends on location! Something in Wine Country, California is more likely to cost a lot more than a smaller 'rural' town. This gives you a very rough starting point but I also suggest reaching out to your "top 3 priority" vendors to start gathering quotes from them! This helps give you a ballpark of how accurate your 'average cost breakdown" is and give you REAL numbers to start working with!
VISION - Part of being able to budget means being able to visualize what your day will look like and the vibe that you want. Maybe it's super low key at an airbnb or maybe its a gorgeous new venue with lots of flowers. Chances are, the budgets for these will look different and this is a huge part of determining your top 3 priority vendors!
GATHER - Get the decision-makers in the room! If your parents are helping you pay for the wedding, they need to be part of this conversation so you know how much you need to budget yourselves and how much you have in other contributions. One great way to have parent involvement is to give them something they can take ownership of without taking over your whole wedding day!! Rehearsal dinners are a GREAT way to please all parties!
COUNT - The biggest factor to your wedding budget will be GUEST COUNT so you'll need to weigh the costs of inviting more people and maybe sacrificing some of the extra decor you want OR invite fewer people so you get all the decor (or whatever it might be! Smaller budgets mean smaller guest counts and visa versa!! Extra guests are not just the extra 'meals', it's the bar tab, it's the extra chairs, the extra table, the extra linen, the extra centerpiece, the extra favor, the extra ceremony spot.... it adds up quick so make sure you realllyyyy want that person there! It's definitely a balancing act! A good rule of thumb - if you haven't talked to someone in the last year (and probably won't for a year after your wedding) they probably don't need an invite! Another great way to cut down on the count is to have a 'kid-free' wedding but every situation is different!
The Bottom Line - Yes, Weddings can be "expensive" for a few reasons:
- You Hire Professionals and YES YOU SHOULD. Professionals make things easier and less stressful for you and if you're paying good money, you want a great experience (or photos that you're obsessed with!) Professionals know a thing or two about weddings and are there to make sure your experience is incredible and have insights to help YOU through the process!
- Guests - this is an experience for your guests but it's also something that you have the most control over! The last thing you want to do is A. Go into debt for your wedding or B. Feel like you have to un-invite guests because you're way over your budget. Yikes!
- Products - this is a giant celebration and there are just a lot of costs involved from food, drink, decor, flowers, products, gifts, etc. There are definitely ways to scale back and not everything is 'necessary' by any means but again, guest count will contribute significantly to this cost!
Want more help? All "SunRae Planning" clients get access to a 'budget' sheet that I have created specifically for our clients. This is a great resource for you to create AND TRACK your budget to make sure you're staying on track! The pennies add up quick so this sheet helps you keep track of everything you've spent, whether it was over/under your budgeted amount, how much you paid in deposits, and due dates for final balances! HUGE HELP TO STAY ORGANIZED in one of the most 'stressful' areas of 'wedding planning'.
Happy Planning, Lovers!