Planning the Wedding Finances
So what are we talking here, in terms of money — and how are you going to pay for this, anyway? The answer depends on the type of wedding you're planning: formal, informal, ultra formal?
Before you sit down to hash out just how much you're willing to pay for a band at the reception, put the situation into some sort of perspective: This is a big expense, but it's a one-time thing. You're not going to walk down the aisle with this woman again. If there's something she's always wanted for her wedding (or something you've always imagined for yours), try to slip it into the budget somewhere.The Cost
When you proposed, you honestly had no idea that this wedding could cost you thousands — nay,
A typical big wedding costs big bucks. Even when you're lucky enough to find a few bargains along the way, everything
If the two of you have actually been saving for your wedding since before the proposal, you're probably in fairly good shape. Be careful, though, not to fall into a false sense of financial security, paying too much for a service just because you don't have to pinch pennies. Always look for the best deal, or you will absolutely end up paying too much for something — maybe everything.
To keep your spending in check:
Be a little flexible.
Give yourself time.
Do your own research.
You may not be able to have absolutely everything you both want. If you find that you're running over your budget, perhaps you could substitute a less expensive chicken entrée for prime rib at the reception, for example, or you may have to pare down the guest list.
Start shopping around as early as possible. If there's something you just have to have, you'll be giving yourselves enough time to restructure your budget to include this one particular item, while finding another area to cut back.
Because the wedding industry is huge, you may feel that there's simply too much to look at. That limo guy gave you a price and he assured you that it's the “going rate.” Don't take his word for it. He may be counting on your complacency. It will take five minutes for you to make a call to a competitor (or ten minutes to call two other places) and confirm this information for yourself.Charge It! Or Maybe Not …
You have some money saved up, but not nearly enough to pay for the wedding in cash. Should you cut back on the affair, or whip out your plastic? Some couples love the convenience factor of credit; others hate it and opt to pay cash for everything. Using credit doesn't become a problem unless you start charging everything (the dress, the shoes, the flowers, the tuxedos, the rehearsal dinner bill, the honeymoon, etc.).
If you still want to use credit cards for wedding expenses, that's fair enough. You and your bride are adults, and you can certainly spend your future earnings any way you see fit. Try this piece of advice, though: If you do find yourself charging an inordinate amount of wedding expenditures, keep track of it. Buy yourself a little notebook — one that will be unobtrusive sitting in your car door — and also get one for your bride-to-be. Write down every charge as soon as you make it.
If you say to yourself that you're only getting married once so you might as well do it up big and just charge everything you can't afford, be careful. You'll be more likely to lose track of what you're spending, you're less likely to look for the best deal, and you'll be speechless when those bills start rolling in.
As those tallies start adding up to an exorbitant amount, you may find that you really need to cut back on the spending — and you'll be in a position to take control. If you wait for your monthly statements to roll in, it may be too late to change your mind.A Little Help Here?
Though the days of the bride's father shelling out big bucks for his daughter's wedding are not quite gone, it's not as commonplace to hear of the bride's family paying for the entire wedding as it was even twenty years ago. Many couples are taking on at least some of the expenses themselves — and rightly so. After all, when both of you are working full-time and making good money, it seems almost silly to expect Mom and Dad to pick up the entire tab for your party.
One caveat about accepting financial assistance: If the monetary gift has certain expectations attached (e.g., her parents want you to have the reception indoors while you and your fiancée really wanted a garden party; your parents expect you to hire that jazz band they love instead of snaring your disc jockey pal) think twice before cashing that “gift” check. From here, your wedding will be in peril of becoming an event you didn't plan — and one you really aren't happy about.
If her parents — or your parents — want to chip in and help, great. As long as you and your bride are both comfortable accepting the donation, there's no reason to balk at the idea. If one of you is completely uneasy about accepting this money, however, turn down the offer graciously.