In The Beginning - First Three Steps to Wedding Planning
You got engaged! Congrats! You have posted your gorgeous engagement ring all over Facebook and Instagram, all of your friends have gushed about your new sparkles, and your mom has cried. Now what? Wedding planning can be stressful and difficult. This guide will help you with the best ways to navigate the world of weddings and make sure you make fewer mistakes that can be costly and cause undue stress.
Step 1 - Figure out the financial contributors. Are you paying for the wedding? Are parents helping? How about your fiancee's parents? Are they doing just the rehearsal dinner, or will they help with the wedding as well?
Step 2 - What do you have to spend? Get an idea of what you have in the way of funds so you can decide all the things!
Step 3 - Get a beginning guest list going. You'll have different columns for guests - We'll explain in more detail in this section.
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Step 1 - Figuring out who can contribute, and how much.
Maybe your mom has been saving for your wedding like she did for college, maybe you're paying for the wedding yourself. You will need to sit down with your family and see who is assisting, as this will give you the info you need to budget for the event. Traditionally, the bride's family paid for the wedding, the groom's family paid for the rehearsal dinner. Well, what about your same sex weddings? That throws a wrench in the patriarchy system! What do two ladies do with those dowries? I often advise my clients to treat the wedding as a 2-3 day event and pool the budget so the entire experience is balanced. For instance, if the family handling the rehearsal dinner is able to contribute more to the day, but your budget for the wedding day is tight, my recommendation is to spread those funds out so that the guest experience is evenly matched for the rehearsal dinner as well as the wedding (and sometimes the brunch or get-together the next day). Keep a spreadsheet of funds so you know where all the money is and you can track expenses. Your wedding planner should be able to help with that!
Step 2 - Figure out what you have to spend. This is so very important to do very early. You will need to know what type of wedding you can afford. Can you afford to spend $10,000 on each guest and have a luxury experience? Are you spending $100 on each guest and having a relatively simple celebration? Here is where you are deciding what the guest experience will be. The US average is $27,000 for a 100 person wedding, and Colorado, where Sweetly Paired is based the average is nearer to $35,000. A mountain wedding here in Colorado is more like $44,000 on average, and the Caribbean destination wedding is often $35,000 to $50,000 depending on what the couple is paying for for their guests. An event that is quite nice, not too over the top, but not skimpy either is typically $400-600 per guest. By thinking of the budget in those terms, per guest rather than the entire event, it allows you to think more about guest experience, and it will get you thinking about the event in a different way. It makes it a little less overwhelming.
Step 3 - Work on the guest list. You may think all of your family and old friends from kindergarten on have just GOT to come to your wedding. Well, they don't. You should think about your guest list in a few ways. First - sit down with your fiancee and write down everyone you can think of. Then start a spreadsheet with 3 columns. Put the must-haves in column 'A'. This is the A List. Check your numbers and balance them against your budget. What are you spending per guest? Is it too low? Is it very comfortable? If so, lets talk about column 'B'. Your B list is a list of guests who would be nice to have at the wedding, if the budget and your vision allow for it. Just remind yourself that as you're inviting the guests, you have to think of the ration of guests to overall wedding budget. If you get people from the 'A' list that decline your wedding invitation, you can start to choose people off of your 'B' list to fill in the spots. The 'C' list is the third column, and they are the guests who you can invite only as you get through the 'B' list and realize your numbers allow for them to be there.
Hope this helped, and look forward to the next post about the next steps!
Lilli Black is a wedding coordinator, planner and designer in Denver Colorado. She works in Denver, as well as all over Colorado. She has been in the wedding industry for many years, and has planned more than 1000 weddings in Colorado.