Ahhh! the almighty budget. The budget is the vehicle that carries the wedding. The organized bride not only uses it to get to the "dream destination" but as a shield against unnecessary spending. See nothing annoys me more than wasted money. Well, except wasted calories but that's a story for another day.
Before you get in depth with planning your wedding, make determining the budget the ultimate goal of "The discussion" as discussed in the previous post. This will determine a lot about your wedding - size, guest list, vendors, the venue, the extras and the sanity of your partnership. Without a budget, you'll basically go haywire and find yourself in deep waters mid-way into planning. For me, my budget saved me so many times. Up until the wedding day, I found myself constantly running to the budget for guidance. The tricky thing about wedding planning is that when you first start booking vendors, you're just paying deposits and so everything seems very easy and "affordable". It only hits you just how much you're actually spending, about three weeks before the wedding when all the payments are due at the same time. Without a budget, to record what you're willing to spend, what you committed to, what you have spent and what is outstanding, you WILL get lost. So, make a budget your reference point for every step of the wedding process.
In order to get a budget that will transfer your vision into reality without making you crazy, here's what to do:
1. Find or create a template
This is the first step. You want to know what you are budgeting for. There are several templates online or apps available that could help you get started but if you need a good old sample, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll send you one. Using the right template is important because it shows you all the multiple-faceted needs of planning a wedding. For a good wedding, the secret is in the details. A good budget sample will show you things you never knew you needed to worry about. Sure you won't forget the big ticket times like venue, food, drinks, photography and music but the last thing you want to do is create a budget, save for it only to find out a month to the wedding that you never considered that you may need to buy event insurance, pay ceremony musicians or that you forgot you'd need to pay for extra wait staff for a seated dinner.
2. Do your research
My wedding planner Chioma of Dure Events told me once,
"90% of people think they truly know how much weddings cost. Another 80% percent think they know based on what their friends told the they spent on thier weddings. The stark truth is that very few people know how much weddings actually cost. For one, very few former brides are 100% clad-proof honest how much thier weddings actually cost (for numerous reasons). More so, everyone's numbers and circumstances are different."
So! Once, you have your sample budget sheet and customized it to your taste, the next thing you should do is find out the range of costs for every item. You can use onlinee resources like yelp, the Knot or other bridal magazines. You can also call around to vendors in the area or ask friends. However, the surest way to do your research is to ask a wedding planner. This is because a wedding planner has a deeper understanding of the market and more so, can translate your vision into numbers based on experience! They are in the best position to tell you average wedding prices in your area and what exactly your money can get you. They can also advice you where you can cut costs and where the cash will be needed. Trust me, I never knew how much I needed a wedding planner till I sat down with Chioma. (Next week, I'll tell you more about why a wedding planner is imperative and how to choose the right one).
3. Make a Relaxed Appointment with your boo
This is the most tedious part of "The discussion". Choose a relaxed time when it's just you and your fiancé.... No distractions and no work. Maybe after a good meal or treat. This is important because this budget conversation gets deep and possibly heated.
During this discussion, you need to resolve the following questions:
- What exactly can you afford?
- What is the absolute cap each of you can contribute to wedding without contribution from family and friends?
- Who is paying for what?
- Is there any anticipation for continuation from either side of the family? (Don't depend on this until you see it in your account, to save yourself from disappointment ).
- What goes into the budget? Chioma of Dure Events advised me that the budget should only include things that are being consumed and enjoyed by the guests. So for me, my dress and personal items were on my own separate budget because my mom was taking care of that. G was also taking care of his outfits separately.
What is most important to you? When we started location seeking, I met a very nice woman at the very first location we considered. When I told her I was the bride and about the extravagant details of my dream wedding, she said,
"You can have a dream wedding without going into debt. Here's how: Determine what's most important to you and splurge on it. You can even be unreasonable with it. But once you make that choice, be ready to get creative and compromise on other things."She was right. But realistically, it's impossible as a bride pick only one thing. So I'll advice you to pick three. For me, it was photography and decor. For G, it was venue. For that reason, those were the high priced items on our budget and it worked out perfectly!
5. Leave room for Ms. MiscellaneousI'll tell you this now- you can plan all you want but something will always come up last minute. I call her Ms. Miscellaneous. To avoid robbing a bank to accommodate her, be proactive and make space for her. The actual amount will also depend on the total amount of your budget. I advise to leave about 5% room of your total budget for Ms. Miscellaneous. If you can stay within your budget strictly, I tip my hats to you. Every bride I know has had last minute expenses. For us, it was having to increase the number of seats at the reception which include increasing food, drinks, cake and decor 6 days before the wedding. As you can imagine, this cost quite a bit of change. Thank God we showed Ms. Micelleanous some love before she came knocking.
6. Cut your coat according to your size
No matter what you do, be honest with yourself. The budget you create has to be something you can commit to and come through on. While your wedding day will be one of the most memorable days of your life and being on BellaNaija or AislePerfect feels great, it will come and go. And when it does, you have to sure you will be at peace with every dime you spent. I'm not saying you shouldn't put one or two things on your credit card. But if you do, have a plan to pay it. That debt won't disappear after your fabulous day. Ultimately, you have to be sure, you won't be sleeping under the bridge while your guests you tried so hard to impress are still enjoying in their fabulous houses. Make sure every decision you are making is about what you want your day to look like and not what anyone will say. Besides, if you commit to vendors more than you can pay and are unable to pay them, no amount of begging will make them show up on your day. As they say, Money Talks, People Walk. It's no different with wedding planning.
Know your size. Know your coat. Make sure they match. You get the drift.
7. Be Patient
Understand that there are some details as women we foresee and men just don't get.
"What is the point of that?"
"What is the point of that?"
"That vendor lady must be smoking ganja!"
"I'm not paying that!"
"I think you've lost your mind!"
"It's just one day for crying out loud!"
Those are just a few reactions men usually have about some items on the budget. My sisters warned me because their husbands had some of these reactions during thier own wedding planning. And just like clockwork, G did that quite a number of times. Most men's brains work with numbers. All they see are dollar signs. As women, while I can't deny that we can tend to go crazy on vision, the beauty of that vision is clearer in our minds. A good number of times, we see what the men can't. :-)
One of those things for me was the white dance floor with the personalized emblem/monogram. G's reaction was, "For that amount? That's definitely not necessary honey." When this happens to you, table the discussion. Don't nag on it. Let it go. I allowed myself time to convince him of why it would be worth it. Eventually. And I mean eventuallyyyyyyyy, he agreed and still can't thank me enough for convincing him to do it. It came out beautifully and he loved it.
When an item of discussion gets heated, table it for later. And if later, your partner doesn't budge on it, watch this space, I'll tell you what to do in another post (just for the ladies).
So, there you go! Happy Budgeting!
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