What is the budget for your wedding?
You'd be surprised at the number of brides who can't answer this question. They have either assumed that mom and dad have been saving up for years to pay for this special day, or future hubby and his family will come to the rescue, or perhaps someone has a money tree in their backyard to which they will give you unfettered access.
But in reality, you need to know how much you are willing to spend on the wedding and from where this money is really coming. It is okay if you don't have all of it saved up in advance, but you need to know you'll have access to it as the wedding day approaches.
HOW DO I DO THIS?????
It is not as hard as it seems. Let me walk you through a few simple steps to help you get started and keep you on track.
Spend about 30 seconds on Google and search for a wedding budget worksheet. There are several from which to choose, so find one in a format that fits your style and and includes everything imaginable that you will need as you prepare for your wedding. For example, rather than there being one row for the cost of your dress, you may want to find a worksheet that has spaces to include the price of alterations, accessories, undergarments, cleaning/preserving, etc. Then print it. Yes, you read that correctly. You'll need this tool for the next step, and the next, and the next! This worksheet is going to be crucial to keeping you on track and when it comes to money, I've found that most people are more motivated when they have something in their face to keep them honest.
Now that you have this, look it over. Consider how much money you have ready to spend, cash on hand, to place toward this budget. Fill in any spaces that you know you can personally afford with a number that you are willing to spend for that item (you have to estimate for these at this point, that's okay!). For example, if you've been looking through the bride magazines or online and you know your dress is going to cost $1000 and you have that much in savings and want to pay for it, write that in...in pencil. Then if you know that your paychecks over the next several months will allow you to budget $2000 toward the photographer and flowers, add that.
Next, you need to have your very first official heart to heart talk with your groom. This may be uncomfortable, but since you are about to marry this person, you have many more to come so this is a good place to start.What to do?
A conversation with parents or other significant family members may be necessary next. Depending on the relationship you have each developed with the other's parents, it is probably in your best interest for both of you to be at each of these meetings. The most important thing to know going into these visits: clarify before you leave the table as to whether the money they contribute will be a gift or a loan! Do not leave this to chance.
Now that you've gotten started and you know that you know that you know how much you are going to spend and from where the money is coming, your next step is to stay on track.
Keep on Track
It doesn't sound hard, but for some reason it is. You go to the bridal fair and fall in love with a florist. You have to have those flowers and those arrangements at your wedding. So they cost 20% more than your floral budget. You can just skip Starbucks and a movie this week, and the next three, to pay for them. Right.
Then you realize that your strapless bra that you wore in high school doesn't fit anymore so you have to buy a new one. Yes, you have to write that on the budget worksheet since you never ever wear a strapless bra anywhere else.
Now, before you panic, you have to realize that a budget worksheet is just that, a worksheet. It is not etched in stone! If you really want to skip coffee and movies for three weeks so you can have the flowers, then do! But you really have to do that because, as you figured out by now, no one has a money tree for you. And you also really have to write down that strapless bra purchase, no kidding!
So what do you do to stay on track? You have a choice. You can choose between moving money from one column to another, or you can choose to raise your overall budget. And either choice is okay so long as you know what you are doing and can afford to do it.
As you make purchases, write the final price in the correct column on the budget worksheet. If you were able to purchase items for less than your original estimate (oh, happy day!) then you've freed up some money to move to another expense. If it costs more, then you'll need to find the money elsewhere.
Don't let the budget worksheet become your enemy. It really can be very helpful. You don't want to come back from your honeymoon and all of a sudden realize that you are thousands of $$$$ in debt because you weren't paying attention to your expenditures.
Planning a wedding is supposed to be exciting (that's why I do it all the time!)!! You should enjoy this time. Just make conscious decisions. Even if you are paying for the entire thing yourself (as I did 23 years ago for my wedding), make sure you are okay and aware of where each dollar is going. Then when you come back from that honeymoon, you won't be bombarded by a gift of unexpected bills.