From designing florals to trying on wedding-day digs to tasting cake, we can think of about 1,000 aspects of wedding planning that are far more fun than budget. Sadly, though, figuring out how to prioritize your wedding budget is an inevitable part of the planning package. To help you on your quest to divvy up those dollars, then, we’re breaking down some of our top tips for prioritizing your wedding budget below. Read on for our savvy spending advice...because you work hard for the money (so hard for it, honey).
1. Prioritize Before You Start Spending
Prioritizing your budget is a task you’ll have to tackle at some point...so we recommend diving right in from the get-go. Because analyzing budget can be stressful and overwhelming, brides and grooms tend to want to avoid it all together. The problem for those whose wedding budgets aren’t infinite, though (raises hand), is that this can lead to running out of cash and having to cut items you had your heart set on (because you accidentally spent all of your money on a baker who can recreate that crazy ten-foot cake that caught your eye on Pinterest). Know what amount you have to work with from the very beginning of the planning process so that you can divvy up those dollars according to your wedding-day dreams.
2. Think About Guest Count vs. Experience
There’s a dollar-amount associated with every individual who attends your wedding—think long and hard about how much you’re willing to spend feeding other people. Maybe you always dreamed of a giant wedding, but realize now you’d rather have great decor and an awesome band for a select group of people (instead of inviting everyone under the sun and having to compromise on design and entertainment). On the flip side, maybe you always dreamed of Pinterest-worthy florals, but now realize it’s more important to you that you’re able to invite your entire extended family. Figure out what balance you want to strike between guest-count and event experience/aesthetics from the very get-go, and let this inform your spending throughout the planning process.
3. Create a List of Non-Negotiables
Just as you would when shopping for a house, create a list of “must-have” items at your wedding. This shouldn’t be every single thing you’ve ever dreamed of having at your wedding—the list should just consist of your very top non-negotiables (aka—the stuff you’ll never forgive yourself for if you end up cutting it from the plan). Whether it's a live band as opposed to a DJ or truckloads of giant pink peonies everywhere, think of your tip-top items that you want included in your Big Day and prioritize your dollars in those places before you start spending anywhere else.
4. Choose One “Wow-Factor" Item in Aesthetics, Entertainment, and Food & Beverage
Focusing on quality-over-quantity is always key when planning a wedding on a budget. Rather than having tons of mediocre event elements, we recommend picking one big-ticket item for design, entertainment, and food-and-beverage that will wow your guests. For design, this may be a massive floral chandelier or a stunning triangular ceremony arch (that you repurpose as a backdrop to your sweetheart table for the reception—double bang for your buck!). When it comes to entertainment, this could be ordering a crazy-cool custom photo-booth backdrop or hiring that 10-piece jazz band. For food-and-beverage, maybe your wow-factor item is a signature cocktail, a vintage dessert van, or a custom-built bar.
5. Consult your Planner for Creative Ways to Cut
No one is better working magic with wedding budgets than a professional wedding planner. If a vendor estimate comes back much higher than you expected or if you’re having trouble fitting your champagne wedding dreams into your beer budget, ask your pro planner for suggestions on places to cut. Maybe instead of having a floral garland on every single aisle row at your ceremony, you cut it back to every other row. Maybe you take those expensive roses out of your bridesmaid bouquets and opt for wildflowers instead. Or, maybe your planner taps her coveted connections to get you wholesale price on that amazing armoire you want to use as your welcome table. Whatever the case may be, your planner can be an absolute fairy godmother when it comes bringing wedding-day dreams to fruition for a fraction of the cost (which is yet another reason planners are worth their weight in gold...and then some).
Photo courtesy Jen Huang Photography