Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Wedding Costs: An Extreme Balancing Act

How much does your average wedding cost?  According to the Knot and Wedding Channel.com, it costs about $27K (excluding the honeymoon) for about 140 guests.  However, 11% of couples are spending more than $40K!   EEEK!  Briana and I had a gchat fest over this figure...considering I'm planning on have about 150-165 guests show and Briana is planning for over 200.  In looking at the chart, there was one quick revision that we would have made, we would not have included the engagement ring price.  Engagement rings are something that you wear everyday for the rest of your life, and our feeling is if the cost isn't related to the wedding day itself and it's value will extend beyond that one day, it shouldn't be counted (ditto for wedding bands).

the Knot & Wedding Channel
Budget Savvy Bride
In looking at the other price tages, I'm both under and over in some of these categories.  I'm ditching the transportation cost...Mr. 3 has a perfectly nice champagne colored Tahoe (which won't clash with any of our wedding attire) which we can get one of  his groomsmen to drive us from the church to the reception.  I'm not a fan of limos and while I love the thought of a few classic photos of us in a Rolls Royce, I think how much it would cost to make them happen ($500+) and I'm suddenly no longer interested.  My reception band is far far far less ($1800) as are my ceremony site fees (Mr. 3's old church will be about 1/3 of the price).  In some cases, I have definitely exceeded the costs that are described above, invitations for example (you can't do anything besides flat/digital print for that price).

Ultimately, Briana and I decided that budgeting wedding expenses is a balancing act.  Weddings cost money and a lot of it, but you should have a plan for where your money can be best spent.  For example, Briana pointed out that if you shell out a bunch of money for a photographer and go cheap on venue, decorations, decor, wedding attire, etc...your photographs might not be that great and it wouldn't be money well spent (there are very few photographers talented enough to crop/edit/shoot out tackiness).  I chose to have a wedding coordinator for day of coordination (although, not at the rate described above, mine is much lower), mostly because I value my sanity and I didn't want to cause nervous breakdowns among all the women in my family....that's money well spent (theraphy is much more expensive).

Another point on sanity, you can't be a slave to a budget if it is making you miserable.  Cutting out 20 guests from the list may not be the solution for getting a more expensive dress or having a really elaborate cake (one more reason to say no to fondant...it costs more in addition to being yucky!), but you also shouldn't have to sacrifice your dress or yummy buttercream to invite 20 people you could care less about.  You also can't sit around sit around agonizing over the fact that some of your costs may be higher than you expected.  Example: Your church wreaths will cost $30 more than you had planned (this just happened to me).  Find ways to take money from other places in your budget or make your budget bigger by $30 (skip Starbucks, eat at home, etc).

You should be able to have the wedding you want without breaking the bank or going into debt.  Briana and I know that it's only one day...but it should be a memorable day...one that you don't look back on and wish you could have done X or had Y.  I've read quite a few articles where brides sacrificed some wedding element that was super important to them, simply because it didn't fit within the parameters of that line item in the budget.

On the things you don't care about (in my case: transportation, in Briana's: invitations), try to get them for well under your budget or skip them altogether.  Here's some questions to ask yourself when making purchases/wedding decisions, which Briana and I are constantly using during our marathon gchats about all things wedding:
 -Have I done enough price comparison?
 -Will it go on sale or can I find a coupon?
 -Can I reuse this in my home after the wedding (that's how I ultimately decided it was ok to spend the extra $30 on the wreaths...I plan on using them in my house)?
 -Can I find something similar for less (i.e. cabbage roses vs. peonies)?
 -Will I have to go into debt to make this purchase?
 -What impact will this have on the overall look of the event?
 -Will this make the day easier?

Briana and I are really big on evaluating the last two questions.  Invest your money where you it will be most noticeable and have the most impact.  For example, when decorating we believe it's best to channel your funds to the areas that will be photographed the most.  Having a beautiful tablecloth and cake stand for your wedding cake is a must...that is one of THE most photographed areas of the room (not only by your photographer, but your guests as well).  Also, will your purchase make your day easier and alleviate  your stress (and that of your family)?  Having a wedding coordinator, paying a travel fee for your hair stylist/make-up artists to come to you, or paying extra for a venue that includes all the tablecloths/chairs/tables, etc. can seriously take some stress out of your day and your planning.

What expenses do you think are totally worth the $$$?  Is your wedding budget making you miserable or do you love to enter those expenses in your excel spreadsheet?  Please let us know if you have any budget suggestions or tips, we always like to save money!