The wedding of your dreams within budget.
Seems impossible right?
I have met with many couples over the years that have gone into significant debt in planning their special day. It’s easy making suggestions on areas in which they could have cut costs by being creative, doing extensive research, or scaling down without sacrificing too much. However, without having the experience of planning a wedding myself, I wasn’t connected with the process; thus my suggestions had very little impact on their decisions. I decided that when it was my turn to get married and plan my dream wedding, I was going to do it without breaking the bank!
I will admit that it took a lot of self discipline and commitment to adhere to this goal and there were many moments where I wanted to push it aside and splurge. It’s easy to say things to yourself like, “It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity (hopefully!) and I will plan first and think about expenses later.” Or, “What will all my friends think?” Will they compare it to their childhood wedding fantasies? Can anyone even live up to that?
The practice of adhering to a budget for the big day is an important skill to build, and it applies to many life events including graduations, birthdays, or vacations. Viewing the planning process through a “budget lens” doesn’t have to diminish any fun or excitement around the celebratory event.
You can still have your special day and you don’t need to take on any significant amount of debt. Below is a list of things you can do to set yourself up for success:
- Picture your perfect day. What does it look like? Build a clear picture of what you want your day to include and what you want it to feel like.
- Establish your budget. This should be an amount that doesn’t exhaust your savings, or cause you to take out an amount of debt that feels overwhelming. What are you willing to spend on this one day?
- Create a budget tracker. You can find templates online. I build a simple excel sheet, with a cost per item/vendor, allotting certain amounts for each and splitting my total spending number amongst all of the different items. It is best to do this before contracting people out. (I found I had to keep updating mine with actual data as I secured each category/vendor, which helped as we progressed in the planning, showing me how close to or far off the anticipated budget we were.)
- Make a list of your “must haves.” Be clear on what you absolutely must have for the big day, which requires the follow-up question: What can you do without? Be clear, make a list, and stick to it.
- Research and research. Find out what the industry standard is to spend in each category. You can spend $2,000 on all decor including flowers, or you could spend $20,000 on flowers alone. There are huge price variances between suppliers, caterers, and venues in the wedding industry. Do your research.
- Be Creative. One of the most unique centrepieces I’ve seen at a wedding was an arrangement of moss, twigs, pinecones, and wildflowers from a local forest here in Vancouver. It had an earthy, fresh, organic look to it and smelled great! So, think outside the box! It will help you save money and add a personal touch to your wedding.
- BORROW what you can and SELL what you can. Borrow what you can from friends and family. (I had all of my jewellery lent to me, which saved me a small fortune!) When purchasing, consider what items you can you resell afterward. There are sites dedicated to selling used wedding dresses: Are you willing to sell yours after the big day?
- Communicate your budget to the vendors. Be clear on exactly how much you have allocated to each vendor. If they can make it work – great! If not, thank them for their time and move on. It’s a competitive industry and you’d be surprised at how much people will negotiate on price. But, be realistic – you don’t want to undervalue anyone’s time or services.
- Pay attention to your invoices. People make mistakes. After communicating with your vendor over the phone, request that they email you a list of what you discussed. Or, take ownership and email them a breakdown in point form. This way you have something to reference in the event of a price or service discrepancy.
- Enjoy the process. You may never plan another wedding – so enjoy it!! You choose how you show up on your big day, but it can be a celebration beyond “the happy couple” if you invite your friends into the process. (Plus, it helps to have trusted perspective into your choices and accountability about that budget to someone other than yourself!)* Surrender to all possibilities, including the fact that things may go wrong during the planning and quite possibly during the wedding itself. Weddings are to acknowledge your union of love. Celebrate and live in the moment. Plus, your partner will thank you for not going all BRIDEZILLA.
My wedding day wasn’t perfect. There were little mistakes as I knew there would be – in the excitement of it all, I forgot to put on my veil – but I had my closest friends and family around me and my new husband. It was beautiful. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve looped in my head about a hundred times replaying how I forgot to put on my veil but, in the end, it’s not what matters.
“So how much are you willing to spend on your one day? Are you willing to go into debt?”
After processing the big day, I couldn’t help but think, “Wow, all of that for one day.” It was an amazing day, a “perfect” day. I was super excited and thrilled. BUT, it was still only ONE day. So how much are you willing to spend on your one day? Are you willing to go into debt? I would challenge you to really consider how much money goes into this one day. If you can find options to shave off costs in certain areas, why not? Be mindful and remember that the day is about celebrating love. Keep it simple, keep it as stress free as possible, and stay connected to the purpose of the day.
This blog post was written by Marissa Cepelinski
Marissa is a passionate and highly driven leader with over 12 years of experience in the field of finance. As Co-Founder of Capital Core Financial, Marissa helps her clients overcome their emotional limitations around money, and guides them towards a path to sustainable wealth. With a company goal to redirect one billion dollars from CRA to the non-profit, Marissa is on a mission to help people implement charitable giving into their financial plan. Marissa sits on the board for A Better Life Foundation, a non-profit providing food security, education and employment training in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, and also involved abroad, sitting on the board for Run For Water and One Girl Can, helping raise funds for clean water projects in Ethiopia, and helping fund education and scholarships for girls in Africa.
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