How to Budget for Your Wedding

Weddings can be expensive – making the prospect of planning one daunting

In the United States, couples spend between $19K and $33K on their wedding – on average $26,444 – while most couples spend less than $10,000 and some spend more than even seems possible. Budgeting for your dream wedding is possible, despite any initial sticker shock you’re likely to experience. However, it is a good idea to due some exploratory work prior to deciding on a budget so when it comes down to how much you can spend your vision does not exceed your wallet. Consider the following recommendations to help create a workable budget for your wedding.

Where to start?

Before you overwhelm yourselves with dollar signs it is a good idea to do your due diligence; it’s important to know what you both want and what that means in the context of what is available. Is your vision similar to your partner’s? What compromises might you need to make? Are there options in your area that provide what you’re looking for?

Discuss your vision

Let’s be honest – some of us have been thinking about the details of our wedding since we were young kids, others haven’t given it more than a passing thought. Either way, it is important to know what each other’s vision is, and to discuss them, compromising if necessary to devise a wedding vision that makes you both happy.

Do your research

With a clear vision of what you both want you can more effectively research venues and vendors, and present a united front when meeting with them. Come up with a vendor list that meets your criteria and schedule tours and tastings. While interviewing potential vendors ask probing questions to get the best idea possible of what your wedding would look like working with them. No question is a silly or dumb question – gathering as much information as you can to form a clear idea of what they offer will help you later when trying to decide who to move forward with.

Compare apples to apples

Once you’re done touring and tasting go through all of the service and pricing information you received and take the time to put it together into a comprehensive format that makes sense to you. Whether that is a spreadsheet or a handwritten table it is very helpful to have all of the information in one place so you can compare all of it at a glance. Set it up item by item so that you’re comparing apples to apples. For example, if one venue offers a per-person package and another offers the space plus an la carte option, add up the space/a la carte option to arrive at a per-person price that includes the same services as the package to see how it compares. Often venues that offer a per-person package will bundle discounted services together making it a more affordable option; it’s worth it to delve into pricing, not taking anything at face value to make sure you are getting the most for each dollar.

Along those lines – be sure to ask each vendor if service charges and tax are already included in their pricing or if it will be added on later. Those additional costs can be between 20% and 30%, seriously increasing your total cost and causing quite a shock when you realize you need to add a lot more money to your budget.

Discuss your vision again

Armed with your newfound knowledge of wedding vendors and supported by spreadsheets and brochures, discuss your vision with your partner again. Your idea of a perfect wedding very well could have changed with the process of learning what holding a wedding entails. Maybe those must-have special touches don’t seem so important anymore after learning how much they cost. Maybe after touring venues you prefer a mountain venue rather than urban one, having previously been set on a downtown venue. Overall, this is a good opportunity to make sure your visions still align.

Consider concessions

You’ve agreed on the what, where, when and how, but the final number is causing you to second guess everything you’ve worked so hard to decide on. Many vendors have a pricing structure meant to address different budgets. If the final number is scary but you’re in love with your venue, ask them if their pricing varies at all. Many have different pricing that depends on whether you marry in-season or in the off-season, and the day of the week. If your dream wedding occurs on a Saturday, but your newfound dream venue is too expensive on a Saturday, consider a Friday or Sunday wedding, or even marrying during the week. There are pros and cons to moving your wedding to a day other than a Saturday – make a list of them to help you visualize the implications. You’ll be surprised – often after going through this exercise it doesn’t seem like as big of a deal to move the date if you get your dream venue. Read more about planning a Sunday wedding to help you start your pros/cons list.

It’s budget time!

Agree how to save

Now that you have a final number build a detailed budget and agree on how you will save for it. Not sure how to build a detailed budget, or does the idea give you hives? Use this online budget calculator. Make sure you are clear on your vendor’s payment policies and work those requirements into your plan. Some vendors require a deposit up front then a lump sum payment closer to your wedding date, some require installments, knowing this information up front will help you devise a plan. Chat with your partner about how he or she is comfortable saving the money. If your ideas of saving are different it could be a source of tension once you’re trying to save; it’s best to know ahead of time so that you can work out any differences in ideology so that you’re on the same page and can meet your goals with the least amount of stress possible.

Make sacrifices if necessary

If it is going to be hard to save then consider making small, temporary sacrifices until after the wedding. Make a list of all of the disposable income purchases you each make, noting how much each is worth, then add it up to see how much money you would have if you gave them up until after the wedding. We all love specialty coffee and happy hour drinks, but man can they add up fast! If your average coffee is $3.50 and your average cocktail is $8, and you are buying a coffee every weekday morning and two drinks every Friday, that adds up to close to $34 dollars a week. Doesn’t sound like much until you consider you’re spending that much every week: if there is a year until your wedding date that is $1,768 you could have to spend on your dream wedding. If you both make similar sacrifices you could have $3,536. Hello dream wedding!

Payments

Regarding knowing your vendor’s payment policies, if they don’t work for you, don’t be afraid to ask if they’re willing to work with you. Most venues have a policy but are willing to work with couples if they ask. Before you ask them be sure to clearly work out what terms would work for you so that you have something to propose when you speak with them. That way they have a concrete idea of what your needs and abilities are; it will make it easier for them to consider the proposal and will be more well received.

Use online tools

No matter which way you look at budgeting, there are a lot of variables to consider and keep track of. There are a multitude of tools on the web that aim to help you with just that. Take a look at this wedding cost estimator that takes you through a detailed list of typical wedding services and purchases and then gives you an estimated costs complete with a graph of cost broken out by category. If you’re more the pencil and paper type, check out this PDF worksheet you can print out and fill in. The Knot and Wedding Wire have budget calculators as well.

Wedding Etiquette for Parents

Misbehaving parents can be a source of stress

Are you afraid your parents might behave poorly on your big day? Whether they’re divorced, getting divorced, or simply don’t get along the thought of them misbehaving can be a major source of stress prior to your wedding, and the day of. And not just for you – you want them to have a good time at your wedding too. Consider the following preventative measures to make sure that your wedding day won’t be overshadowed by mom and dad’s attitude toward each other; a quick lesson in wedding etiquette for parents will go a long way.

Every situation should be dealt with on a case by case basis

If your wedding is scheduled for a year out, give it a few months to see if the situation alleviates itself before speaking with family members. If you’re 3-6 months out before the wedding date, it may be a good time to sit down and discuss the situation. You can choose whether it’s best to talk to them individually or schedule a group discussion to express your concern about behavior at the wedding.

When you speak to your parents, make them aware of how their behavior affects you and how it is perceived by others. They honestly may not be aware that their squabbles are noticed by others, that they effect those around them negatively, or may be so used to interacting poorly that bad behavior is normal to them.

Use neutral, factual, unemotional language

Keeping it cool will help you to avoid inadvertently causing them to feel defensive and so will be more productive; the conversation will go a lot farther if they are thinking clearly and without emotion. And now for the hard part – try not to get emotional yourself. Parenting your parents isn’t what you signed up for and it’s not easy, but staying calm will help your cause.

They may listen to what you say, but not hear what you say

If that’s the case and you suspect someone will be on their worst behavior at your wedding, then try again. Thank them for your previous conversation but tell them you don’t feel like they heard you, or at least haven’t been acting as though they did. Take the time to reiterate the points you made and remind them of how important it is to you that they behave at your wedding. Remind them that their behavior would cause an embarrassing distraction to you and your guests, and that the day is about you and your fiancé, not them.

When there is no solution

If push comes to shove and it’s clear there is no chance of good behavior you can suggest counseling or you can tell them in no uncertain terms that they can “shape up or ship out”. This is extreme, but uninviting guests and family members does occasionally happen. This would be a terrible decision to have to make, but ultimately, you must weigh the stress of having them misbehave at your wedding versus the stress of uninviting them and then not having them present on your wedding day.

Everyone will come up with a different answer…in the end it’s up to you – it’s your day!

 

How to Choose a Wedding Photographer

How to Choose a Wedding Photographer

Find a photographer who will fulfill your vision

A good tip to keep in mind when you are selecting a photographer for your wedding is to make a list of what you want out of the photos. Do you want formal, traditional photos or more candid party shots? Are you marrying outside and want to the scenery to shine or inside a spectacular building and want the architecture to pop? Different photographers have different strengths. Some are able to make a mountain landscape come alive without loosing the couple in the shot, while others excel with formal portraits or up-close detail shots. Knowing what you want out of your photographer will help to eliminate those who don’t meet your needs quickly. Browse their online portfolios to get a quick idea if they are able to produce what you are looking for.

Next, before you reach out to the lucky few who made your short list, answer the questions below so you can further eliminate photographers based on budget and need.

How to choose a wedding photographer – answer these questions to help you get started

 

  • What is your budget for the entire day?
  • What percentage of your budget is dedicated to a photographer?
  • How long do you want the photographer to stay at the wedding, will you need to provide a meal?
  • Are you considering renting a photo booth, putting disposable cameras out for guests, hiring a videographer and is that within budget?
  • If so, does the photographer offer any of the above additional services and can they be bundled together to save on cost?
  • How adventurous are you? Do you want a photographer who will take you to a remote location and take photos of activities? Is there an additional cost and is it within budget? Think tandem bicycles, fishing, snowshoeing, rented golf carts, horse-drawn carriages…fun, but potentially expensive!
  • Are you going to do a first look? If no, do you want to have two photographers? That way both wedding parties can get ready at the same time.
  • Do you want a printed photo book? If so, does the photographer offer that service and it is within your budget?
  • Do you want a mix of black and white and color photos or just color?

 

Last piece of advice – do you all get along?

Meet with your photographer several months before you hire her or him to make sure you all get along. You will be spending a lot of time with this person and if you don’t like each other, or she/he simply gets on your nerves it will show in your photos. Your wedding day is one long glorious, exhausting celebration of you two and you don’t want to add avoidable stress. Beware of overlooking any potential personality clashes – personalities matter a lot on your special day!

Photo courtesy of Mallory Munson Photography. @mallorymunsonphotography

Groom Wedding Photography

“Dang, girl! Does he have a brother?” (aka: how grooms can look their best in wedding photos)

Is your man camera-shy? Consider the following tips for all the gentlemen out there who want to look their best in their wedding photos.

Do not plan on making any dramatic appearance changes right before the wedding

That means no radical self-tanners, face tattoos, eccentric hair cuts, weird piercings, or teeth pulling, no matter how much you love The Hangover. I know it’s a great movie, but the goal is to get your bride to walk towards you during the processional, not run away.

Find a great suit or tux and a great tailor

It’s the same concept that most brides have to consider; you want to look your best and be comfortable at your wedding. It’s a long day and it is probably the day on which you will have the most photos taken of you in any 12-hour period of your life (unless you’re Brad Pitt), so finding an outfit that is comfortable, fits you perfectly, and looks sharp is essential. Check out The Bridal Connection in Longmont for good prices and package deals for full wedding parties.

Don’t get really drunk the night before or morning of your wedding

Circles under your eyes, bloodshot eyes, tired expressions, and bad posture will show up in your photos, and you probably don’t want to remember your wedding day like that.

If your bride is ok with it, don’t be afraid to be different with your clothing

We’ve had grooms who opt for gray tuxes, tan outfits, pin stripe suits, traditional kilts, and everything in-between. It’s always fun to see a little personality in our grooms, and there are many options out there.

If you’re planning your wedding at The Wild Basin Lodge, let our staff pin on your boutonniere

Obviously, you don’t want to stab yourself before the wedding, we’ve literally pinned thousands of them on, and we know every trick to make them stay and look good in photos. If you aren’t planning your wedding here, make sure someone else who knows what they’re doing pins it for you.

Carry a small roll of dental floss, mints, Kleenex, and Chap-Stick in a non-exposed area

The idea behind this is pretty self-explanitory; you don’t want food in your teeth during photos, you don’t want your breath to smell when you’re kissing your bride (but it’s tacky to chew gum at your wedding), you or someone in the wedding party may need a tissue during the ceremony or photos, and everyone gets chapped lips in Colorado, despite the season. Try to think compact when you prepare these items so you won’t have a weird bulge in a pocket during your photos and try to find mints you like that won’t make noise in your pocket all day.

During photos, keep good posture

Whoa, I just had the most vivid déjà vu of my mom saying that to me. But seriously, stand up straight during pictures.

If you have some time before the big day, it never hurts to hit the gym

Even if the big day is tomorrow, you could still squeeze in a little workout. Maintaining a good exercise schedule will not only keep you looking healthy, but it helps enormously with managing the stress of a big life change (such as a marriage) I doubt your bride will complain about you exercising, either!

During your photo sessions, think happy thoughts

It’s hard to produce a realistic smile when someone is asking you to pose this way, don’t squint, stand on that rock, tilt your head to the left, lower your shoulders, and hold her train, but your expression will improve if you think of the excitement of marrying the woman of your dreams, or even a funny joke.

Can’t think of a funny joke? Here is one:

Why do ducks have flat feet?
– To stomp out fires.
Why do elephants have flat feet?
– To stomp out burning ducks!

Post-Ceremony Photography

How do I look best in my post-ceremony photos?

Kathy and Lewis provided their guests with personalized disposable cameras at their wedding reception a couple of weeks ago, are you ready for all your post-ceremony shots?

Consider the following tips on how to look your best in post-ceremony photography, whether they’re snapshots or professional photos.

  • If you are the unfortunate recipient of mosquito bites before or during your ceremony, take a cotton swab, dip it in water, then dip it in liquid bleach and dab it on the affected area. I never thought this would work, but it’s been proven (by me and a bad bite on my forehead): the redness, swelling, and awful itch will be gone within 20 minutes. Thanks to Denice for helping me with this!
  • Keep powder foundation and oil absorbing wipes (such as the Clean & Clear oil absorbing sheets) on hand for your post ceremony photos. If you have chosen an outdoor ceremony in Colorado during the summer, your face will probably have a bit of shine after your vows, and these items will quickly reduce not only the shine, but the foundation will also reduce any mascara and eyeliner streaks.
  • Check out these tips for how to look thin in photos.
  • Try to avoid food and drinks that will make you bloated before your ceremony. According to MSNBC, the following foods will make you bloat: salt, excess carbs, bulky raw foods, gassy foods, sugar alcohols, fried foods, spicy foods, carbonated drinks, high acid drinks, and (believe it or not) chewing gum. I know, I know: they don’t let you have any fun! I wouldn’t take this concept too far, because hey, it’s your wedding: feel free to have a glass of champagne, girl; you earned it!
  • If you used self-tanning lotion and now look all blotchy and scary and orange, baking soda is your friend. Get damp in the shower and then massage dry baking soda on the affected area. This will get the dry skin (that’s ready to come off anyway) off usually after one treatment. You do not need to scrub, scrub, scrub (a la Jennifer Lopez in The Wedding Planner) as this may cause more skin irritation than you’re skin is willing to handle!