Monday, May 10

Be a Budget-Savvy Bride!


At the top of the to-do list for any new bride-to-be is to set a budget for the wedding. But if the bride and groom don’t already have a large chunk of change sitting in the bank, setting a budget is much easier said than done. The couple will likely end up paying for wedding expenses as funds becomes available, which means they'll be spending while they are also saving. So how can a bride set a budget up-front when she doesn’t even know exactly how much money she has to spend? For Joe and I, the budget was ever-changing until we actually finalized our vendors and signed the contracts. But long before making any commitments to pay vendors, we'd set up a “mock budget”. We sat down together and listed our expected future paychecks to project how much we’d be able to realistically save, month by month. This may come as a surprise, but our budget wasn’t even officially decided until after we’d made big decisions like booking the venue, ordering the flowers, paying for the gown, and purchasing the centerpiece supplies. Now that we know the cost of everything we’ve committed to, we finally have a definitive budget. But don’t worry if you don’t have a set number to work with right off the bat. As long as you can create a timeline of how much you’ll have saved for wedding expenses, and you stick to your savings fund, I promise everything will work out.

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First and foremost, I would recommend creating a checking account that is solely used for wedding-related purchases. Right after Joe and I projected how much we’d be saving from our paychecks, we opened a joint checking account. Every two weeks, we each each contribute the amount we’d estimated saving from our paychecks, and anything over that amount we can throw in is just an added bonus. We also keep an excel spreadsheet as a sort of checkbook registry. This way we can record where (and what) we are spending the wedding funds on, and it also allows us to make sure we are on track with our savings plan. This is really important since vendor due dates are generally due at different times in advance to the wedding day, and not necessarily due ON your wedding day. To say you would have $5,000 saved up ON your wedding day isn’t much help if $3,000 of that is due two months before the wedding. Be sure to take into account the dates that your vendors require payment, as this will affect your savings timeline.

Now if you’re like I was in the beginning of my planning process and don’t know how much you’ll be spending total on the wedding, you’ll want to be extremely particular about spending any money in the early stages of planning. Only put down the minimum deposits required to reserve your vendors, and don’t pay for services in their entirety all up front. Let’s say you found your gown and instead of placing the required 50% deposit down, you paid it in full, thus clearing out your current savings. What will happen when, two weeks later, you want to put a deposit on your cake but already spent all the money on that gown you paid in full? Now you’ll need to wait until your savings accumulate again before you can start again reserving vendors, and you’ll have to hope and pray they don’t book up before you have more funds available. Key point: Unless you have a huge chunk of savings already when you start booking vendors, I would suggest only making the payments necessary to hold your day. (Just be sure you don’t miss any final payment due dates after that!)

myheartofvirginia Be a Budget Savvy Bride!

What are some ways to be careful about what you spend your money on, if you’re spending WHILE your saving? For starters, don’t make any unplanned purchases or rash decisions. We’ve all heard of the bride who bought her dress right after getting engaged, only to decide six months later she wanted a new gown that just hit the market. Assuming she buys the new dress, think of all the money she’d have saved by not buying the first gown! Or let’s consider the bride who books her photographer after just one week of searching and puts down a 50% deposit, only to find out later that her best friend’s sister would have done the same quality of photography for half the cost. A lot of brides will find that the more they get into the planning process, the more they will see what their options are and their tastes and ideas will constantly evolve. You’d hate to purchase an all-white satin gown and then decide later you really think an ivory lace is more your style. Search online for great deals on what you’re looking for and don’t settle for paying full price on anything. Joe and I paid half the regular price of our flutes by purchasing them on Ebay, and I found a small online company that sold our sand ceremony set for a fraction of what the brand-name website sold it for! The deals are out there, you just have to do a little searching. Unplanned and impulse purchases can not only cause major headaches but will also end up costing you big bucks that could have been better spent somewhere else. Think very hard before you spend that cash, and be sure to consult your fiance before making any major purchases. This is a great way to practice sharing important financial decisions with your future husband! 

You don’t have to know your final budget amount before deciding it’s a good time to start saving money. As soon as you’re ready to start looking for vendors, the first thing you should do is network and compare services! Once the word starts to get out that you’re engaged, you might be approached by several people who know someone that can save you big bucks with their services. Perhaps your boss knows an extremely affordable DJ, or your fiance’s coworker has great connections with the owner of a catering company, or your cousin’s best friend is an amazing cake artist. If you meet these people in person and are comfortable with their work examples and references, don’t be afraid to present them with a contract! More expensive doesn’t always mean better. You could very likely network your way to a great vendor that will do just as an amazing job as the vendor you saw charging three times that amount at a bridal show. Just make sure to compare their services and quality to that of other vendors, and ALWAYS GET IT IN WRITING! Keep all your contracts save-guarded and organized, as they may come in handy should anything unexpected happen down the road.

  
cjsoffthesquare Be a Budget Savvy Bride!
  
One of my biggest secret budget tips is entirely underrated and overly ignored. Are you ready for this? BARTER! Everyone has a talent or skill that they can use in one way or another to trade services and save money. Got some mad sewing skills? Offer to lend a decor company your sewing talents in helping them create unique tablecloth centerpieces if they’ll promise to provide your centerpieces at half off. Maybe you’re a graphic designer who is always looking for new clients. Why not offer creating all of the marketing materials for your photographer if they’ll photograph your day at no charge? The possibilities are endless, but the money you could save is tremendous. As long as you present vendors with a fair trade, the worst they could say is ”no, thanks”, which really is no big deal. You’ll never know how much money you could have saved if you don’t even bother asking.  You’d be truly surprised how many vendors are willing to work with you on this… I certainly was!

When it’s all said and done, you could end up spending $20K on a wedding that appears like a $10K wedding, or your could spend $10K on a wedding that appears like a $20K wedding. The choice really is up to you. It’s all about being determined to save money and motivated enough to make it happen. No matter how big or small a budget ends up being, every single bride can be a budget-savvy pro. Just stay organized, plan ahead, and dig deep for those bargains!

(All Photos by Google Images)

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