Rules of Engagement: Budget
Weddings are expensive. No matter how many corners you try to cut or sacrifices you make to lessen the financial burden, weddings are expensive. Photographers, florists, clothing, food, rental items, DJ, coordinator and everything in between cost money. The ultimate amount depends on the vendor, location, date of event & number of guests. The average wedding in Austin was $28,000 last year. If this is way out of your range, don't panic - just because this is the average doesn't mean you are tied to that number. You are the one who controls your wedding budget by the decisions you make. If you want to have a $10k wedding then YOU have to make the appropriate budget cuts to hit that number, same if you have a larger budget.
This is to give you some insight into what budgeting was like for me:
When Chad proposed to me almost 2 years ago, I was elated. We had been together for 5 1/2 years and it was time. I have never been one of those girls particularly interested in weddings, so I had no idea how much time, energy or money went into a wedding.
**If you read my previous post, you will know that I started this thing on a dream of a California wedding experience which ultimately turned into a total cluster. Needless to say, a budget was never created, I just started throwing numbers at it and seeing what would stick. I also advise that when planning your budget you should wait to select your wedding venue in order to know how much to allocate towards your overall wedding budget. **
After we regrouped and selected VWR, we started to focus on a Hill Country wedding. I can remember sitting in my Mom's kitchen, reviewing The Knot's Wedding Budget 101 and some other budget breakdown articles and immediately feeling overwhelmed. I don't know what I expected - just snap my fingers and a wedding would magically appear before me for free; but, that's not what you sign up for when planning a wedding. By signing with VWR I was basically left with $13k to work with from our budget for food, photographer, clothing, alcohol, cakes, etc. Luckily, VWR came with table linens, chairs, DJ, day-of-coordinator, lighting, 2 bartenders, etc.
Mom and I sat in the dining room and started to write out the numbers. We determined with some creativity and cut corners that we could have our wedding for 150 guests for around $20k. I had been pinning and thought "DIY? NBD!" (do-it-yourself, no big deal). Mom told me she would allocate at least $5k towards our big day, my dad pledged an additional $5k, and the remainder was our responsibility. I was comfortable with $10k - I knew with the time table we were working with that we had time to save and we would not be stretched too thin with that amount.
FB Update when crunching #'s in Excel late at night with a cocktail:
Cheers to keeping Dripping Springs afloat for another fiscal year. #icouldhavegoneonasafari
All of that is fine and well, but the thing is, I had one hell of a time sticking to that budget. We wanted so many different things and started to shy away from the DIY projects. I had made smart decisions on my dress, shoes, and jewelry for $1k. But, then we turned around and spent $3.5k on a photographer and $5k on our hotel for our immediate family and wedding party. The problem was I had planned these numbers to be exact, and that just isn't how it works in the wedding industry. Everything is more expensive. I wasn't sleeping, my mind was constantly going and thinking about it. I was drained. Chad was drained. My Mom was drained. We were all fed up with the planning, the projecting, the various ideas, the penny pinching and at some point we just started "throwing money at it". Not that we went wild and crazy throwing bills around, we just decided we were not going to worry over small price increases to simplify the process here and there.
I controlled that decision. Even though I hadn't allocated this amount, I still had the ability to spend it. I knew what I was doing, I also knew that I was able to pay more to get what I wanted, and my Mom was also able to add more to her contribution. All in all, we came out slightly over budget, but every cent over the line was well worth it.
I advise doing what is best for you. If "throwing money at it" works for you, then "throw money at it". If you want to DIY, then DIY. If you want to cut costs, then plan accordingly. Just make sure to leave some extra room in your budget for the extras. Be realistic about what you can spend and don't sweat the small stuff.
For next week's blog, my amazing husband is working on a budget template to help you with your budgeting. I'll also expand a bit more on the budget specifics.
Hang in there & happy planning!