By Gail Gregory–McLaughlin, CMP. CMM.
One of the most important things to do after the proposal has been accepted is to set a budget. I cannot stress enough the importance of this step. The couple and BOTH set of parents need to sit down and talk as to what each side can bring to the table. If it’s a second marriage, the couple needs to take the most important step in the rest of their lives together . . . ESTABLISH A WEDDING BUDGET.
Without a budget the “event” will take on a mind of its own and before you know it you’ve spent three or four times the amount you had originally thought you’d spend.
Tips to make a budget work.
1. Say you decide to spend a total of $40,000 on a wedding and reception for 200 guests. Consider this figure the total sum that everyone is contributing–parents and couple.
2. Everything must be taken from this figure so an Excel spreadsheet is an excellent tool to keep a “real” time figure that you can check on at any time.
3. Date, Church and Reception Venue.
A. Some churches charge, especially if you are not a member, and Officiant/Clergy normally request donations; $75 – $100 is appropriate. Log that as an expense ($100).
B. Don’t forget if you are going to have someone sing or play music – cost varies depending on what you want to do for the ceremony. Log all the expenses, even tips you are expected to give out the day of the wedding.
C. Reception venue is your biggest expense if it also is going to cater the reception as well. Make sure you read and understand the contract. If you don’t, find someone you know that does. You don’t want any surprises. What does the venue overset with your guarantee, 5%, 10%, 15%? Don’t think if the menu says the meal is $50 per person that that’s the price. You’ll have gratuity of around 20 – 22%, plus tax on top of that. There could also be additional fees assessed, but it must be included in the contract you sign. Most contracts signed two or three years out will have a percentage that locks in an increase for the food and beverage. In other words if the meal is $50 this year, that same meal could cost you $58.32 per person in two years at a locked-in 8% increase per year. Bars are no different either. Always do a consumption bar because it will be much cheaper. In the State of Ohio it is actually against the law to charge a package price for the bar because if the guests drink more than the venue charges, they are required to bill you the difference and, trust me, that never happens. Also remember the cost of bartenders. I would recommend 3 bartenders for a party of 200 guests. What does this all mean? You are now paying around $75.95 inclusive for your $50 per person ++ menu totaling $15,190.60, plus the bar.
D. You now have $23,980.04 remaining without including the cost of the bar. So as you can see the money goes fast. You still have the wedding cake, wedding rings, photographer, invitations/postage, health and beauty, groom’s attire, flowers and decorations, rental equipment, favors, entertainment (DJ/band), bridal consultant, bride’s attire, bridal party gifts, rehearsal dinner and honeymoon expenses.
Sometimes you’ll need to compromise. You may have your heart set on a beautiful wedding gown; maybe picking a venue that’s a little less would be a solution. You may be very crafty so making your own invitations, centerpieces and favors can save you. However, you must have someone you can count on to make sure the centerpieces and favors are delivered to the venue to be placed on the table because you’ll be entirely too busy. That being said, be very careful. I’ve seen wedding cakes fall and a DJ not show up because he forgot he promised to spin the music on your special day.