Footing the Bill: Five Steps.

Posted by pear on Feb 27, 2012

There is something that happens to couples preparing to wed during such a tough economy. They realize that they were strapped for cash before the idea of getting married, and then they get engaged. After all of the bliss and wonderful euphoria of having a beautiful diamond placed on one’s finger, the heavy realization that there is an expense to a marriage sinks in. That’s right: a wedding.

Now, there are ways around spending a bunch of pretty pennies on getting married. It involves paying for and obtaining a marriage license from the Department of Motor Vehicles from the county in which you will be getting married, as well as paying the court fees of having a judge espouse you and your fiance. As it turns out, not many couples want to proceed in this fashion. They desire a good old-fashioned wedding, a natural wish of many newly engaged couples.

So if a traditional wedding is on the docket, but the money to pay for it is not in your pocket… What is the key to paying for a wedding yourselves on a tighter-than-spandex budget?

Well… that’s a marvelous question. John and I have been trying to figure that out for ourselves! It seems to be quite the mystery and an ongoing process. There are a few helpful things that we did in the beginning.

One: A Detailed List

Listing out a detailed budget is a definite must for any wedding, whether you are trying to be mindful of a budget or not. It makes complete sense to create a realistic budget, rather than one of fantasy and fable. Taking a look at the major categories you will be spending your money on is a great way to start. The venue, the catering, the photography, and the dress became the priciest categories for us. Once you have every larger category listed, it becomes easier to break those down.

Two: Breaking It Down

As you break your categories down into their smaller units, you should list anything that comes to mind that you have wanted to include in your wedding. Anything. Ever. This is where you get to explore different ideas. Granted, your initial ideas will not be your final product. It’s just nice to get it all out on paper, which makes it easier to realize what you need and what you want. It is important to account for the items that you basically can’t get away without having. There really is no right or wrong in this category because every wedding is just as unique as the couple getting married. I used the term “traditional wedding” earlier because there is a lack of a better word. I do not mean that every wedding should be a traditional one – we don’t even want a “traditional” wedding.

We want a beautiful and creative wedding that is fun, laid back, and perfectly us. Now, this doesn’t mean that we are going to use the most expensive vendors possible because that is what makes a good wedding. In reality, there are some overpriced vendors that do not coincide with our style and, therefore, will not coincide with our budget!

Three: Subtract, then Add

Review your list. Try your best to take away the items that are wants. This allows you to focus on your must-haves. Once you come up with a realistic budget for these, you can add your wants back in here and there as your budget and desire sees fit.

Four: Research

Before you charge forward, gung-ho about accomplishing your list, you must conduct research. As you research, review your detailed budget list and compare what you thought was going to be a good amount to allot to that particular item, and what the cost will most likely be. As John and I began our research, it turned out that venues were the first thing to jump in price compared with our list. This is why research becomes an important step and it will determine what wants you can include in your list if you’re on a budget.

Five: DIY

When you get down to the wire on certain items on your list, consider doing-it-yourself. John and I are crafty and opt for doing it ourselves rather than not in most circumstances anyway. There are several things you can make yourself without paying someone for the same product, like invitations, save-the-dates, and ceremony and reception decorations. Have you ever thought of buying wholesale flowers and making your own centerpieces? Or even making your own flowers out of paper or felt? It is amazing how many DIY tutorials are available online, from videos to blogs to online magazine articles. Pinterest is a huge saving grace – ideas are provided, and, more often than not, so are the links to their tutorials.

Since we are planning on making the decorations, invitations, and save-the-dates ourselves, we will hopefully save a lot of money. We will replace money with time, at least. Everything comes down to time or money – and which is most important to you. Time is of value as well.

Our personal plan has already included obtaining a credit card with a great interest rate (ahem, 8.9%) and an immense limit that we do not dare reach. It is our sense of security, while costs arise that we cannot foot immediately and we need to pay for them straightaway. Rest assured, our main plan is to save money any way we can by working odd jobs and scraping up the scraps anywhere possible.

Something that has really helped me organize my budget is by using Excel. You can plan on your detailed budget plan changing quite a bit for the first several months. We have been planning for over six months and it has changed with every decision we’ve made. Excel makes it easy to change things as needed.

Here’s to the mission of designing a wedding. On a dime. We can do it!