Money is never easy to talk about. You know this, and I know this. However, when you are planning your own wedding (and likely even if you're not) it has to be done and done well. Don't be scared -- with these three fool-proof tips, you can do it!
Now that you understand the big three and you have a draft guest list created to give you an idea of the size of your wedding reception, it's time to set your budget. Setting a budget at the beginning of your research process gives you direction and helps you eliminate vendors that are outside of a realistic spending range for your unique day.
To figure out your budget, 1. Sit down with your own finances and determine how much you can contribute on your wedding day. This isn't as scary as it sounds -- all you have to do is figure out how much money you can take out of savings or save from now until your wedding.
Don't spend all of your money; leave at least six months of living expenses in your savings account and then see what's left. Then look at how much you can save from your paycheck each month (after you pay all of your bills and allocate money for food and the occasional girls night). Whether its $2,000 or $20,000, be honest about this number. However much it is that you can contribute, it's awesome! Do not stretch yourself too thin here: Nothing should go on credit, you should be able to comfortably give this money to your wedding. What a wonderful honor to be able to work hard and save up for a day that is so important to you.
After you know how much you can dedicate, take a weekend afternoon and 2. Discuss your number with your fiance and ask if he is able to contribute to the budget. Notice a few key words here: weekend afternoon, ask, able, contribute. This is a conversation. Pick a time that works for both of you to sit down and have a relaxed chat. Be in sweatpants, have some snacks, and for goodness sake don't do this on the phone or on geech. Face-to-face communication for the win! Basically ask your fiance to do what you did in Step 1. And remember, chances are he just paid for your gorgeous ring, so let him determine how much he can contribute. It can be more or less than your number and that shouldn't matter. It should be what he can comfortably financially afford.
You are on your way! You are a financially savvy, open-communicator and you're kicking butt. Now it's time to, 3. Have a private conversation with your parents about how much they can contribute to your wedding budget. Yes, I did say private here. (Note: If your parents are divorced, talk to each separately and be open and honest with each about what the other is able to contribute. Honesty always works.)
This step can be broken up into two parts -- you should talk to your parents on your own and your fiance should talk to his parents on his own. Traditionally, the bride's parents help pay for the wedding and the groom's for the rehearsal dinner but let your parents guide you with what they want to help financially support. Trust me, they'll tell you what they care about supporting. They've thought about you getting married just as much as you have! Be clear that you will of course fill your fiance in on the conversation (and he you). It's not a secret but it's a courtesy. You are still your parents' child and they will likely feel more comfortable talking to you alone about the budget for the first time.
When each of you talk to your parents in person (or at least on the phone) and give them the courtesy of asking them if they are comfortable contributing financially to your wedding, you automatically show them respect and gratitude. Do not expect a certain number from them. Your parents, same as you, are managing their own finances. Do not assume that they can contribute anything. Instead, ask. Your parents love you and I guarantee that they will give as much as they comfortably can to support you. Whatever the amount is, say thank you and mean it. Your parents raised you, gave you life, and now are generously giving as much as they can to financially support your wedding. They're pretty great.
With the contributions from you, your fiance, and all of your parents, you now have a wedding budget. Add it up and write it down! This number will be your guiding light as you start to research and plan. You now know about how many people you want to have and how much you can spend on the affair. That's a great place to start!
Photo by Traci J. Brooks Photography.