Wedding Budget: Planning your wedding and your budget

Photo by Sealight Studios

Congratulations! You are engaged and planning one of the most amazing days of your lives! Many couples want to know where to begin, and your wedding planning begins with a BUDGET. We all wish we could have an unlimited budget for our wedding to incorporate all of the elements we want on our wedding day. But, for many couples, this is not a realistic situation. Although budget is the least appealing element of your wedding to confront, it is the most important. Your budget range will influence what you can and cannot do for your wedding day celebration.Based on research, the average cost of a wedding of 150 guests is approximately $30,000. Needless to say, unless you can call in a lot of favors from friends and family, that budget may not be very realistic in the state of Hawaii.

Before you make any financial commitments, determine the total amount of money you want to spend on your wedding and establish the elements of your wedding that are most important to you both. It is your day, so other people’s opinions should not deter you from doing what is most important to you.  Keep in mind that in order to have those important things, it may be necessary to compromise on other areas of your wedding.

My experience is that the most important elements of a successful and fun wedding are your guest list, food/beverage, and entertainment. These are the most memorable parts of your wedding and the first things your guests will discuss afterwards. The photography and videography are important because they capture and document the memories and those special moments that you may not have personally witnessed.  Your wedding day will seem like a blurry flash of time, so do not dismiss the importance of reliving the documented moments that represent this special day you have been planning and anticipating. Ambience is very important, so be sure to make your event aesthetically pleasing to your guests and the camera. You don’t need to go over the top; there are ways to make your wedding look fabulous without breaking the bank.  Colored fabric and lighting will make your event magical, and your wedding coordinator will be your best resource on how to reduce costs and save you money without compromising your vision of your wedding.

Although tradition says that the bride’s parents pay for the whole thing, this is frequently untrue for today’s couples. In all likelihood your parents or other relatives may pay for your wedding or contribute a certain amount to it.   

Some of the pitfalls in creating a wedding budget include the couple may not realizing how much each vendor will cost, whether there are any hidden fees at the venue or for the professional you are hiring, or they simply forget to build in tax and gratuity into their budget. The values listed here are a guide on what to expect expenses to be. In some cases, there isn’t enough money allocated in a category to cover known expenses. Therefore the amounts in other categories need to be reduced, an alternative and less expensive choice needs to be made, and/or more total dollars need to become available. Just know that you will need to have a realistic budget, or be prepared to make some changes to your vision.

Ceremony:  Up to 3% of budget: Ceremony Location Fee, officiant Fee/Donation, Rentals, Marriage License, Keepsake Certificate/Ketubah, Ring Bearer Pillow, Aisle Runner, Unity Candle or Sand Ceremony Items,  Specialty Linens (chair sashes, etc), Permit Fees

Reception:  Up to 46% of Budget: Reception Location Fee, Rentals, Specialty Linens, Food/Service, Bar/Bartender, Champagne/Wine, Signature Drinks, Beverages you will provide on your own, Wedding Cake,  Cake Knife and Server Set, Cake Topper, Cake Service, Liability Insurance

Photo/Video:   up to 12% of Budget: Photographer’s Fee/Package, Videographer’s Fee/Package, Additional Prints/ Albums/ DVD’s/Flash Drives, Disposable Wedding Cameras, Wedding Album, High Resolution DVD of Wedding Images, Photo Booth

Stationery:  up to 3% of Budget: Announcements, Invitations, Response Cards, Postage, Thank You Notes, Personalized Stationery, Ceremony Programs, Reception Menus, Place Cards, Table Cards, Calligraphy, Guest Book/Wishing             Well/Portrait/Scrapbook

Wedding Rings:  up to 3% of Budget: Bride, Groom, Engraving

Transportation: up to 2% of Budget: Limousine/Car Rental, Shuttle for Guests, Valet Parking, Self-Parking

Gifts:   up to 2% of Budget: Attendants’ Gifts, Bride/Groom Gift, Guest Favors, OOT/Wedding Welcome Bags

Attire:  up to 10% of Budget: Bridal Gown, Bride’s Reception Dress, Alterations, Headpiece/Veil, Bride’s Accessories, Shoes, Lingerie/Hosiery/Undergarments, Beauty Services, Groom’s Tuxedo/Suit, Groom’s Accessories, Attendants’ Attire

Flowers/Décor: up to 8% of Budget: Ceremony/Reception Site Decorations, Bride’s Bouquet, Bridesmaids’ Bouquets, Boutonnieres, Corsages (pin-on or wrist), Centerpieces/Table Décor, Hair Flowers, Chuppah/Arch/Arbor, Aisle/Pews/Chairs, Décor,  Leis, Flower Girl Basket, Flower Shower, Specialty Lighting, Napkin Flowers, Chandeliers, etc.

Entertainment:  up to 6% of Budget:  Ceremony, Cocktail Hour, Reception, Sound Equipment

Wedding Coordination : up to10% of Budget

Taxes, Gratuities, Service Charges: These should be incorporated into the fees in each category.

Miscellaneous: Vanity Baskets for Bathrooms,  Bridal Emergency Kit, Toasting Flutes, Framed Photos, Bubbles, Card Collection Box/Birdcage/Basket, Wedding Insurance, Memory Table, Travel Costs

Always remember that the wedding is an event and a marriage is a lifetime, so be sure to keep your focus on the health of your relationship. The budget and the details should never supersede the significance of celebrating this momentous occasion with the people you care about most. Arguing or ruining relations over wedding plans defeats the whole purpose of the actual celebration. Stay positive and keep an optimistic outlook about planning your wedding and the big day itself. Things are bound to go wrong, even with most careful execution. How you deal with it will either make it a positive memory you can laugh about or one that can ruin your day. Only you will know that a detail is overlooked, your guests will have no idea.  But, if they see you are stressed and upset, then they will be, too. Their energy will feed off of yours.  Keep in mind that even the most expensive or beautiful wedding is meaningless unless you have a great time sharing it with your loved ones. So, have a realistic budget and enjoy every moment of your dream day!

©2010, Tori Rogers, Hawaiian Island Wedding Planners

Ways to Save Money Without Sacrificing Style

1.  Select a weekday instead of a weekend. You’ll be in a better position to negotiate rates with your venues and professionals.

2.  Sometimes a DJ is less expensive than a band.

3.  Consider your wedding to take place during the day instead of the evening.

4.  Limit hosted bar options. Although I think you should offer a full bar, even if it is a cash bar, so guests do not leave your wedding to go to the hotel or restaurant bar, host only nonalcoholic beverages and toast with a signature drink. Or, host beer, wine and a signature drink and have the rest be a cash bar. Don’t buy into the idea of a friend or relative bartending at your estate venue unless that person is licensed and insured…most venues require that.

5.  Sparkling wine may cost less than champagne for your toast.

6.  The meal you offer does not need to be expensive and elaborate, it just needs to be delicious.

7.  Opt for an elegant heavy pupu reception instead of a sit-down dinner or buffet. Offer an assortment of foods served at various times throughout the evening, and go heavy on the entertainment to keep the fun happening. There’s no rule that says you must serve a formal entree at your reception, just as long as you provide enough food for everyone to not go hungry.  Skipping the sit-down service will keep guests mingling and your budget under control. (Just be sure to tell your guests beforehand that a full dinner won’t be served so they can plan accordingly.)

8. Instead of expensive custom invitations, print your own invitations at home.

9. If you are hosting an open bar, pay for it per consumption instead of per person.

10. Marry in the off-season. High season for events are from May to October, so planning your event to take place during the off season may offer a better chance of finding vendors who will drop their rates.

11. Limit your attendants and guest list. You could save hundreds on the boutonnieres, bouquets, centerpieces, etc.

12. Avoid having your event take place on a holiday. Also avoid high season (May through October)

13. Select a multipurpose venue. If you use one site for the ceremony and reception, you may save on site fees and won’t have to pay for transportation to both spots.

14. Have dual-function flowers. Use your ceremony flowers at your reception. For example, you can use your bridesmaids’ bouquets as part of the centerpieces. The arch piece can decorate the cake table, sweetheart table or buffet table. Pew flowers can be used to decorate the tent poles, head table chairs, etc. Move the large arrangements can be moved to the entrance at the reception, around the head table, near the stage, etc.

15. Understand that not everything will be a bargain. So, pick and choose what you are willing to skimp on and what are things on which you will not compromise quality.

16. Share rentals and décor: Find out if there is an event at your venue the day before or after your event. If so, perhaps you can save on rental costs for tables, chairs, tents, etc. by sharing the costs of rental, delivery and set up.

Websites to help you to calculate your budget:

Real Simple offers a Budget Planning Worksheet

©2010,2012 Tori Rogers, Hawaiian Island Wedding Planners

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