How much does that cost?

What is the most important step in planning a wedding? The date, the reception location, the caterer? How about the budget? That’s what I said. Boring, you say? It may prove to be the single most important thing you do before saying, “I do”. Know the dollar amount you can afford to pay for your wedding day before you begin the planning process. Having this discussion soon after the engagement and communicating that dollar figure to the key players of the day will save many hours of stress. What you want and what you can afford are usually very different but with careful planning they can nicely meet somewhere in the middle.

The next job is to list everything you would like at your reception in their order of importance. Do you need floral centerpieces or would you rather have the photo booth? Are you willing to trade the top of the line entrée for the band you really want? Be willing to trade off what isn’t that important to you for the things you absolutely must have. Remember this is your party and you want to have your hand print on it.

Engaged couples are so excited to be planning their life together that they want to invite everyone they know to share the day with them. Aunt Mary on your father’s step-mother’s side would certainly have her feelings hurt if she isn’t invited. Her daughter will need to drive her and her live in and his children will need to come too. Whoa…multiply that by both families and you have a lot of people you hardly know sharing that special moment. Is that really what you want? Picture yourselves taking your wedding vows. Now imagine the people you need there with you that day. This is your guest list.

With the dollar figure, your priority list and the number of guests in mind, you are ready to start your search for a reception site. Before you fall in love with the cozy, little historical meeting house, the modern art gallery at the beach, or the enormous hall at the fanciest hotel in town be sure it will fit your budget, your desires and your guests. Ask questions about limitations of the space and regulations. You don’t want to sign a contract only to find out that your wedding requirements cannot be met.

Accepting monetary help from Mom and Dad or Grandma is completely appropriate. It is gracious of family members to offer financial assistance. However, this does not give them the right to dictate how the money will be spent. Just because your Godmother offers to pay for your flowers, she does not have creative license to choose them.

Approach every aspect of your wedding planning with the budget and your needs in mind. Consider hiring an experienced wedding planner to help plan your dream wedding within your strict budget. You will be surprised how much can be saved by spending money on professional assistance.

Whatever your budget, responsible planning will result in a beautiful wedding and a great start to married life together.

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