A little financial planning can make your wedding a lot less stressful
No matter how much you’re able to spend on your wedding day, as a bride, you need an essential guide to help plan and manage a budget for your occasion. Whether you have a generous budget to work with or you’re limited on funds, pricing out services and organizing wedding day expenses are tasks that every bride must face when it’s time to start making arrangements for the big day.
As you embark on your journey to put together your dream wedding, the key to creating an effective budget begins with setting realistic expectations. What are your priorities? Do you need to make any sacrifices to afford certain services, or is the sky your limit? What are you willing to compromise on? As you begin to ask yourself these questions, start by exploring the following.
Should I hire an event planner?
This is often one of the first questions brides ask themselves when trying to decide how much they can—and should—spend on a wedding. Many budget decisions begin with this kind of thinking: Which services are necessities, and which are optional luxuries? When it comes to the decision to hire an event planner, one of the best questions to ask yourself is how big of an event you intend on having. If you’re having a very small, private occasion that you feel you’re capable of managing yourself, then maybe an event planner isn’t a necessary expense for you. However, do keep in mind that much like photography, event planning services are worth the investment every time, no matter how small the occasion.
“Hiring an event planner may actually save you money”
The Benefits –Event planners handle many aspects of planning a wedding that you don’t want—or cannot—handle yourself. They not only have established contacts at certain venues that you might not be able to connect with on your own, they also often have arrangements or deals with certain providers. If this works to your advantage, a wedding planner may end up saving you money with a package or price point that you might not have access to otherwise.
Additionally, wedding planners can handle everything before, during, and immediately after your special day. From scheduling fittings, making sure the catering menu is designed to your heart’s desire, and finding the perfect venue, an event planner is your most valuable partner and tool in the wedding planning process.
It’s great to be ambitious with the intention to save some money, but don’t make the mistake some brides make and bypass hiring a wedding planner with the hopes that you can manage the entire occasion on your own. Weddings can quickly become overwhelming and the pressure to keep track of even the smallest details piles up fast.
Average Cost– On average,wedding planners charge between 10 – 20% of your total budget. Some charge flat-rate fees, which can range from $500 to $2,000 or more, depending on the scope and size of your event.
How can I find a venue that falls within my budget and meets my expectations?
Securing a venue is often one of the largest expenses you’ll face when planning your wedding. This is due
to a variety of factors, but one of the biggest is catering. Many venues supply catering services in addition to the actual event space, so you’re technically paying for two services, not one.
While many brides opt to hire catering services elsewhere, not all venues will allow this. Instead, they provide a package and offer the service on-site. Realistically, this is often a more convenient choice anyway, since the food is prepared and served under the same roof. Be sure to discuss this with each venue coordinator you meet with to ensure you get a good understanding all of the fees involved beforehand. This is especially crucial in the early planning stages, as you want to make sure the venue you’re considering works with your budget. If questions come up after your meeting, always feel free to contact the venue for clarification before signing any contracts. The speed and courtesy of their response will also be a good indicator for their quality of customer service which is hugely important when considering the satisfaction of your guests on your wedding day.
Benefits –The benefits of a good venue location can be invaluable. The right venue can create the atmosphere and style you want, and it also has the power to make things as convenient (and fun!) as possible for your guests.
Average Cost – Wedding venue fees can range drastically. Expect to pay anywhere from $500 for reserving a section of a local restaurant to $5,000 for a resort ballroom rental. Some ballroom rentals can cost well over $10,000 depending on the venue location and the package you choose. Factors such as guest headcount, time of year, and the quality of the catering often come into play with venue costs.
How much do I really need to spend on photography?
Photography, like event planning, is another wedding investment that is truly invaluable in terms of sentiment—that is reason enough to hire a photographer—but it’s also very handy after your wedding day. Why? Because your photos are about capturing moments that are unique to your special day. They will be your most precious keepsakes and tell the story of your wedding day for generations to come, long after the special occasion has come and gone.
Benefits – Along with providing you memories that last a lifetime (and beyond) and giving you a tangible, heartwarming way to share your special day with loved ones who were not able to be there in person to witness it, the benefits of hiring a professional photographer are vast. While it might be tempting to take your neighbor, friend, or Uncle Joe up on their offer to take your photos for free, chances are they do not have the eye or expertise needed to capture your most magical moments. Professionals not only know exactly what to look for when composing a photo, they also know how to maximize the emotional intensity of that photo. When it comes to the single most valuable keepsake for a day that will be unlike any other, you simply can’t put a price on that value, and quality really does matter.
Average Cost –You can expect to pay anywhere from $1,400 to $5,000 and up for professional wedding photographs. You can save money and spend less than this range by hiring a less experienced photographer but keep in mind that this will generally produce basic shots. Some photographers charge by the hour. Keep in mind that it’s extremely difficult to document the story of your wedding day in just a few hours. Elati Photography charges by the collections we offer and will cover the wedding throughout the entire day. Another consideration is that much of what you are paying for in a photographer is their ability to edit your photographs. When we say “edit” we’re not just talking about enhancing photos in Photoshop but the process of narrowing down the many shots of the day. Experienced photographers know what to look for to choose the best images to tell your story. The last thing you want while on your honey moon is to receive 3,000+ that you have to sort through! Additionally, some photographers will offer bound, printed albums and videography services, which also offer priceless keepsakes.
How can I make the most of my catering dollars?
In general, catering services are more affordable when reserved on-site, where you’re holding your reception. This is because many venues provide service packages to accommodate brides who are after a reasonable price as well as the convenience of having food prepared and served in one place. For brides who have a bit more leeway in their budget, hiring a specialty or gourmet off-site catering service is always an option. Keep in mind that budgeting for and hiring a caterer is something a wedding planner typically handles for you, and they often know how to find the very best option for you that both meets your expectations and budgetary needs.
Tips – The catering you choose says a lot about your event. The food you serve your guests has the power to complement and enhance your reception, and the quality of the dish served can transform a good event to a great event.
Depending on the venue, the chef, style of cuisine, and guest list size, on-site catering can be just as pricey as a private caterer, so your best bet is to meet with a variety of caterers that provide the cuisine you’re interested in and acquire detailed quotes from each. This will help you determine which option falls within your budget.
Dream dress, dream price?
Budgeting for a wedding dress can be a daunting task. Should you buy off-the-rack? Should you order from a bridal boutique? Should you hire someone to custom design the gown? The options might seem overwhelming, but the number one thing to remember when budgeting for a wedding gown is that it helps to know what you want before shopping for your dream dress. That doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the fun of trying on different gowns, but it does help to identify what you desire most out of a gown and to decide how important the investment is to you. Once you’ve narrowed down some of these key factors, you can look at the options available to you and begin to get a good idea of how much you’re able (and how much you want) to spend on a gown.
Benefits –The benefits of investing in a quality gown include ensuring you feel good, look great, and that you shine in your wedding day photos. Quality is relative, though. If you feel like a million bucks in a vintage hand-me-down gown that’s been tailored to fit you, then that is your dream dress. The perfect gown is not necessarily the most elaborate or the most expensive!
Tips– You can find discontinued, off-the-rack gowns for as little as $150, or you might spend well into the thousands for a designer or custom-made gown.
These are some things to ponder as you begin putting a budget together for your wedding. For any bride and any size wedding, the key is to always know your expectations, your financial limitations, and to become familiar with the service options available to you before signing any contracts or making any commitments.
Here are some other articles you may find useful:
- How to Choose a Wedding Photographer
- Tips for Choosing a Wedding Venue in Colorado
- How to Get Married in Colorado