The Wedding Budget: Where to Spend, Where to Save!
One of the most complicated aspects of planning a wedding is handling the budget. Knowing where to allot the most money and where to save is a huge challenge for event and wedding planners. Staying cost-effective in certain areas and knowing what’s most important to your clients allows you to maximize the funds that are available.
Check out these tips for giving your clients what they really want on their big day (without going over-budget)!
Before you get down to business
The process of deciding where to invest the budget and where to save should be first on your list. Make sure the following elements are in order before you spend a dime!
Are your clients paying for the wedding themselves or are their parents contributing? The more parties giving money towards the budget, the more people you might have to negotiate with during planning. Those financing the wedding sometimes feel as though they have a say in how it looks, where it takes place, and so on. It is the planner’s responsibility to spend money in a way that makes each party as happy as possible, with an emphasis on pleasing the clients.
What is the budget?
Make it absolutely clear to your clients that, barring emergencies, you need a final budget amount before you start planning. If they give you the green light to start spending and suddenly you’re told that they re-calculated and have to reduce the number, you’ll have a problem on your hands. Without lecturing them, let your clients know that that you must have a final number before you spend.
Ask your clients which aspects of the wedding are the most important to them, and which are a little less crucial. The answers will vary for every client, but you’ll probably notice a pattern involving the big, expensive things at the top of the list and the smaller details further down. Your clients might give you a list starting similarly to this:
- Reception venue
- Ceremony venue
…And so on through the details as your clients please.
Remember: It’s not that you want to overlook the small things. Quality in the details is necessary as well. Your goal is to avoid wasting money on something that your clients care slightly less about and re-direct those funds into parts of the experience that are most important to them personally.
Time to plan
Now that you have a concrete idea of who to consult and how much money you have to work with, you can move forward with planning! Always keep your clients’ priorities in mind. The more careful you are along the way, the less you’ll have to worry about adjusting the budget or going over later.
Guest list and catering
One of the easiest ways to control your spending is to adjust the guest list. Dinner is a large cost during the wedding planning process because caterers charge you per person. The bigger the guest list, the more expensive the dinner and the more you’re taking from the budget. You do want to make sure that your clients get to celebrate with the people they love, but you should also warn them about how expensive a very large guest list will get.
Once your clients have the guest list, it’s time to think about the meal itself. Dinner is a central part of the night, so it’s definitely worth spending on! Even so, you can be smart about it. Consider the atmosphere and level of luxury that your clients want, and then plan the meal accordingly. Guests deserve a delicious, high quality meal but that doesn’t mean your clients should spend thousands of dollars on foie gras and caviar for 350 people. A gourmet chicken dinner might serve just as well.
The venues for the ceremony and reception are extremely important, and a fair portion of the budget will be allotted to these. That doesn’t mean, however, that they have to be very extravagant if your clients aren’t set on a luxury atmosphere. Determine how much of the budget you’ll invest in the venue by whether your clients have their hearts set on a specific place, or whether they’re just happy with a lovely setting.
If the bride has dreamed of being married in a historical cathedral since she was a little girl, then that venue is worth the cost even if it’s very expensive. If the clients aren’t concerned about where the day takes place as long as it’s a beautiful experience, then you might find a gorgeous but cost-effective place for the ceremony and reroute the money you saved toward the honeymoon.
Décor is an important aspect of the day because it helps to establish the atmosphere. Guests will notice if you take good care of the little things, and they’ll certainly notice if you don’t! Investing in décor, furnishings, and details is worth a portion of the budget, but once again, you should spend with reason. Guests deserve better than paper napkins at dinner, but that doesn’t mean they need napkins made with hand embroidered silk that cost $200 each. The smarter you are about details like décor, the more money you’ll have available to invest in entertainment or venues.
Just like dinner, the cake is a central part of the wedding tradition, which makes it worth budgeting for. We’ve all heard stories about the gorgeous-looking wedding cake that tasted like sawdust, which is a waste of money. Help your clients invest in a pretty cake that their guests will actually enjoy eating, rather than an extravagantly gorgeous cake that looks great in pictures, but that no one wants to touch after their first bite.
Determine how much of the budget you’ll invest in entertainment by where your clients place it on the priority list. If they want their guests to have a great time dancing but they’re not concerned about who’s on stage, looking for a reputable but cost-effective wedding DJ might be a good solution. If the groom is steadfast on having his favorite band play at the reception, however, you’ll invest more in entertainment and try to save money elsewhere.
Be smart about it!
Budgeting is a challenge, but don’t let it scare you! Being overly cautious will limit your real planning skills. There is a set amount of money available to you, and you should use it well to give your clients the best experience possible.
Think about budgeting as a compromise between each wedding element. Is a very large, high quality meal the second thing your clients listed when you asked them their priorities? Perhaps they don’t really need those couture gold dusted invitations after all.