The “B Word”

Piggy BankThis year more than any I have helped my clients battle the ups and downs of wedding spending.  Let’s be honest, no one wants a “budget” for the day they’ve been dreaming about for years. No one wants to exclude anyone or anything, and the reality of what an event really costs is harder for some than others. 

The gorgeous, and inspiring magazines out there really feed the problem. Just take what you estimate that amazing centerpiece in Grace Ormonde costs and triple it.  “Champagne taste on a beer budget” is a common phenomenon.  I find my role has evolved into education on how much things really cost making being part of the planning from day one so important. 

Below are some common mistakes I’ve seen and some tips on how to budget and still get an event you’ll be proud of.  And let’s all remember the main goal of a wedding:  to get married.  The rest is cream!

Common Budgeting Mistakes:

  • Inviting too many guests. The most expensive part of wedding is your per head cost.  More people means more food, more alcohol, more tables, more centepieces, etc.
  • Having mega bridal parties. More bouquets & bouts, more gifts, more time needed for photography (not to mention more opinions and drama!)
  • Spending too much on the venue.  Never forget the small print (tax, gratuity, rental fees, etc.) Your budget should be a balance of your priorities and you should plan ahead leaving sufficient funds for all categories.
  • Choosing venues that rely heavily on decor when decor isn’t a priority to you.
  • Blowing the budget on the gown – you know who you are!  😉
  • Spending a lot on the little things– big impact items are where the budget should be going.  Start hacking those nick nack favors, menus, matches, etc.

Top Tips for Saving the Dough:

  • Don’t get married in the summer. You are competing with thousands of other couples, why would venues and vendors negotiate?
  • Don’t get married on a Saturday  (especially in the summer – see above)
  • Keep your guest count small.  Really look at your guest list.  Do you know everyone?  Have you spoken with them in the last two years?  Would you expect to be invited to their wedding?  Start hacking kids!
  • Keep your bridal party small (see mistake #2)
  • Carefully plan your budget based on priorities.  I don’t believe in set percentages like the magazines suggest. I always say: “let’s throw the budget at your top 3 priorities and think reasonably on the rest.” For example:  some will spend thosands on the photography (the one thing you keep) and will go 2nd hand on the gown (it really will only be worn one day!)
  • Use the ceremony flowers for the reception (2 in 1, you can’t go wrong!)
  • Have a smaller ceremonial cake to cut into and get a sheet cake for the rest (no guest will care if its from the display cake or not)
  • Choose venues that need little decor.  I know many where simple centerpieces and candlelight would suffice.
  • Do your ceremony and reception in the same location.  Less photography time and you’ll save on transportation.
  • Have strapping male helpers on hand for set-up and transfers.  You can save a lot on labor charges here.
  • Throw a cocktail party instead of a formal dinner.  Heavy apps, food stations, and drinks all night are a lot more affordable than “Beef or Fish” and encourages a mingling, party atmosphere.  Works especially well if majority of the guests are on the younger side. 

I have a lot more tips and techniques up my sleeve, but these are the highlights.  Fear not the “B Word”.


4 thoughts on “The “B Word”

  1. Brilliant, Katy!! I especially love the “strapping male helpers” on hand for transfers of flowers/decor. Love it, thanks!

  2. Great suggestions Katy! I love the cocktail station idea! Some of my favorite guest candids happen during cocktail hour – why not prolong that festive feeling! 🙂

  3. This is the best phrasing of these tips (and the related mistakes) I’ve seen – I’m printing off this entry for mom to keep in mind! Too bad you only work in the Seattle area…if you know anyone with a similar mindset in Oregon, I’d love a recommendation.

    • Thanks for the compliment and for checking out my blog, Sarah! Where in Oregon and what is your wedding date? I’m from Portland – have a free place to stay – and have done one or two weddings down that way. If it doesn’t work out, then of course, I’ll send you my referrals! Let me know!

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