How to write about what we determined was a reasonable wedding budget? Priorities differ, resources differ, and there is no one size fits all. Google “wedding budgeting” and over 1,000,000 results arrive — overwhelming and, after a dozen clicks or so, unhelpful.
Here are 4 humble pieces of advice for all contemplating their budget building journey. And so that you know, our wedding, while not extravagant, is not an example of how to spend as a little as possible. We are choosing to create a celebratory event and not spend on a traditional honeymoon. The event is a gift to our family, friends and ourselves — same-sex marriage equality is worth celebrating!
1. Set your shared priorities and make the budget reflect those priorities
At the top of our list, or near, is that our wedding will be fun, exciting and worry-free. Interpretations of “fun & exciting” differ, and spending more doesn’t necessarily mean there will be more fun and excitement, but for us somewhat mid-life ‘family’ gays, making sure families could enjoy the afternoon with us and their kids was most important. So, we splurged on venue and offset some of that cost by selecting a Sunday, which costs less. The venue, Santa Margarita Ranch, is beautiful just as it is, and is well suited for both the ceremony and reception, allowing us to avoid some expenses in terms of multiple venue rentals as well as the associated decorating. Using a venue that comes with a “day-of” coordinator well versed in wedding/reception combos and sticking with local vendors familiar with the ranch helps us to feel comfortable planning this on our own – avoiding professional planner costs while not adding much stress. The ranch has outdoor and indoor options and is very kid friendly – more worry reduction benefits.
2. Don’t reinvent this wheel
There are many budget resources for you to consider. A favorite resource of mine for a variety of needs, Wiley’s Dummies book series, has one for weddings. Budget oriented, it has great tips and suggestions. Gaywedding.com, now part of weddingwire.com, has a comprehensive budgeting tool that allows you to both build your budget and then track your expenses.
3. Embrace uncertainty
Being confident in your preferences and adhering to an agreed to budget is important, but being open to other people’s ideas as you discuss your vision with the many vendors you will need to contact will allow you to take advantage of opportunities [and potential savings] you did not know were available. Approaching the task of selecting a caterer in this way helped us to find the Hitching Post, certainly not a company we were familiar with at first. Our initial thought was to be very Portland and hire a couple of food trucks so guests could order “locally sourced” food directly from the truck and get just what they wanted. We thought this might save us some money too. Unfortunately, food trucks are not plentiful in the central coast. After learning our preferred food truck owner was unavailable on our date, I asked him for suggestions. He suggested the Hitching Post. Not a perfect fit based on our original plan, but as it turns out a perfect fit for the location — where they have worked many times — plus great food and budget friendly. Best of all, we clicked with their catering coordinators. That leads to my last humble piece of advice… .
4. Work with people you can both trust and enjoy getting to know
You’ve got to click with these people. If we got the sense that our wedding was just another event for someone, we moved on, regardless of the quality of the food, the photography or how much we were impressed with the location. And this can be of benefit to your budget. First, you are more likely to get a fair price from someone with whom you are more comfortable. Then there is the issue of making adjustments and accommodations to the original agreement as the date approaches and details become more clear. This is a given. Working with someone you can be more yourself with and vice-versa increases the odds of not being charged for every minor change. Lastly, while you are hiring professionals who are being paid [well], you are more likely to get their best effort if there is a bond.
I hope these few pieces of advice help as you plan your wedding budget. Keep it fun — and get started.