2022 is flying by. As a Wedding Photographer, we’ve seen lots of couples get engaged or married already this year. This means that there’s lots of wedding planning going! Lots of couples get super excited right out of the gate after getting engaged and start spending money without really considering what they may have in the way of a budget. Often they realize too late that they have spent all their money with their first one or two choices and have nothing remaining for the rest of their wants/needs. Weddings shouldn’t produce more debt than college or cause you to give up your first born to pay for them. Let’s discuss some tips to make it on your budget as far as you can.
Start with a Wedding Budget Discussion:
You may think this is obvious, but often, couples start making visits to wedding vendors without having ever discussed how much they feel comfortable spending on the entire event. This can cause stress and some unnecessary fights during the wedding planning process. Choose a time to sit down with your fiancé and discuss your financial situation BEFORE you make even one phone call. A few things to think about are: Will anyone other than you guys be contributing to the cost of the event and if so, how much? Do you want to pay for everything all up front or do you feel comfortable using credit and creating debt? How extravagant do you want your special day to be? Which items are must-haves vs. items you could do with less or without? Do not avoid this step–consider this a great indicator of how you deal with most stressful issues in your future marriage.
Work Out Your Guest List Early–and Stick to It:
The largest expense at your wedding is likely going to be the head count at the reception. Knowing how many people you want to invite (and pay for) will help determine which venues are in your budget. This can be the difference in selecting a $75 per person venue vs a $150 per person venue. Speaking of venues, did you know many venues have a minimum head count? So even if you only have 50 “yes” responses, you could be on the hook for 100 people if that is the minimum head count a venue requires. Once you have your guest number solidified, resist the temptation to include a few people more–it will have a significant impact on your bill. And make sure to check with your potential venues about this stipulation.
Resist Add Ons:
Lots of vendors have a basic charge and then have “add ons.” This is very common practice with venues especially where there is a basic charge for the facility, but you can upgrade to Chiavari chairs, or a Viennese Table, Midnight Snack, etc. As tempting as these add ons can be, wait to add them to your bill until after you have taken care of your other basic vendors. You can usually add on the midnight snack at any point before the final headcount is due, but once you’ve spent the money, it is GONE. Too often we see couples with no money left for wedding photography or video because they blew everything right out of the gate.
Be Honest with Your Vendors:
Being up front about your budget with your vendors will actually serve you better in the long run. For example, many of the florists we know will recommend similar items to achieve the overall look you want without going into massive debt. As a wedding photographer, we are happy to offer flexible options to couples on a budget, mostly in the form of less time spent at the wedding. As with catering, you can always add on at a later date, but stay within your budget when making initial choices. But if we don’t know that you’re in a bind, we can’t know how to help you.
Read All Contracts Carefully:
Read all documents twice (at least), and have someone else read too! Sometimes there can be “corking fees” for each bottle of wine opened, a charge for cutting the wedding cake, etc. Avoid unpleasant surprises and make sure you understand if that is the case and what the final total could possibly be. Likewise, make sure you understand what any payment dates are to avoid financing charges or late fees. Missed payments annoy your vendors and could possibly result in financial penalties for you.
Planning a wedding can be overwhelming. Use our tips to help you avoid overwhelm and enjoy all that the planning process has to offer. It’s a great time to create a new bond with your fiancé over all of the decision making.
AFH Media, LLC would love to help you walk this wedding planning journey with you. We’re booking into 2023 and 2024. Get on our calendar today to make sure that your date is saved.