Georgia Ruth Photography
It’s engagement season – which leads to the start of wedding planning season. After you say “YES!” And before you book a venue you have some work to do.
Step 1 Figure Out How Much You Have To Spend
This includes funds from family, what you are contributing, everything. More couples are paying for their own wedding settle on a final number you can afford before going forward.
Step 2 Stick To Your Budget
This is a once in a lifetime event if you can spend more on it than you would on a car, go for it. Your marriage should last longer than your car. If you can’t afford to spend as much on a wedding as you would on a new car, and you can’t even afford an old used car DO NOT GO INTO DEBT FOR YOUR WEDDING. It’s not just OK, but truly important, to plan whatever wedding you can afford.
Step 3 How many guests can you afford to invite?
First determine how many people you must invite. These are the people who will hate and disown you if they are not invited. The true number here falls between 2-30. Nobody must invite their best friend at work. Nobody must invite their first grade best friend they haven’t spoken to in twenty years. Just the absolute must be theres.
Second determine how many people you would invite if you had all the money in the world. Keep in mind you still don’t have to include your best work friend or your best friend from first grade. This is the list of people you know matter to you and should be at your wedding. This list may include your best work friends, it may not. This is a very personal decision.
Now divide your total available budget by the number of people. This is your total per person budget under each scenario – this number will make sense in considering what you can and cannot afford.
Step 4 Imagine Your Ideal Wedding
- Do you see yourself on a beach somewhere far away with just your key people?
- Do you picture an urban ballroom and your family church?
- Do you want a rustic vineyard with chic chandeliers and a barn dance?
- Do you see a very non-traditional Portland ceremony followed by an amazing dinner to please any foodie, followed by dancing, clubbing, karaoke after party fun?
Who are you? What would be the best day ever for you? Figure that out first. Now pick options you can afford for your key people, vs. the big list before deciding on a venue.
Step 5 Stick To Your Budget
If what you want does not match what you can afford, change your attitude not your budget. Change your guest list and style not your budget. Have a dream vow renewal one day instead. Don’t blow up your financial well-being for your wedding.
Step 6 Choose a Venue First
Before you put down a deposit on anything, choose your venue first. Your date you want may be booked but there may be a second option you are ok with so do not book anyone until you have a venue and a set date.
If you are sticking to your small list (intimate weddings are the biggest and best trend for 2020) make sure your venue fits the party size. An empty giant room or barn will be awkward. Consider if the food and beverage are included at your venue, if so what are the minimums?
Do not be fooled by food and beverage minimums. Example, one venue may have a $15,000 food/beverage minimum with no other venue costs beyond gratuity. Another might have a $2,000 site fee, $10,000 food and beverage minimum, and another may have just a food/beverage $6,500 food and beverage minimum. You may assume the lowest minimum is your best bet, but you have 150 guests on your list and their menu may have dinner options from $48-$98/person. The lowest option is over your minimum. Now the $15k place may have $38-$58/per person meals. You could add a fantastic cocktail hour, not worry for a second and not stress that you need to pay an overage bill at the end of the night.
Some venues will include extras – champagne toasts, waived cake cutting fees, open catering options with just a site fee. Add it up. Get menus, get pricing, how much is the true cost?
Do not pick a venue with an $8,000 site fee if you then have $4000 left for food and drinks and a 200 guest count. Keep looking!
What will you have left for everything else? Break that out, is it enough left if you choose this venue and wedding style?
Step 7 Stick To Your Budget
Change your plan, change your attitude, don’t change your budget. Get married off season – this can save you a lot in Portland. Get married in March or April, indoors, the flowers are amazing!
Something may have to give at this phase in planning. Too many people choose venue and style over anything that will actually end up mattering you you. If you need 300 people and don’t have a huge budget, get married at your church or in a public park with venue space. Have the reception in your church hall or at a park. Choose catering you can afford. If you need a cocktail appetizer or luncheon instead of a plated dinner, do that.
Step 8 begin booking other vendors
You should already know exactly what you can afford per vendor. Book a photographer, caterer, and planner (if you didn’t start with a planner) first. They all book up well in advance.
If you will be using a wedding floral designer as opposed to a florist book them early the best ones book up for key dates fast! Book a DJ/musicians next. If you need decor or rentals source those early they do get more expensive or hard to find in wedding season. Order a cake and desserts.