So, you’ve announced your engagement and set the date. Now all there’s left to do is to plan your wedding, but where do you start? How much is it all going to cost?
The most important thing you should do at this stage is write a list of everything you think you’ll need for your wedding, do some research and then set your budget. In fact, I’d suggest doing all of this before you even set the date and announce it to the world. Find out if family members are willing to contribute, take into account any savings you may already have and then carefully work out how much you can realistically save each month to pay for your big day. Some people are shocked at how much a wedding can actually cost, especially with so many hidden extras you may not be aware of, and the last thing you want to do is have to change the date half way through because you’re struggling with finances.
Let me give you an example. In 2012, the cost of a church wedding in England is £322, a legal fee that is set by the Church of England. But if you want an organist, a choir or the church bells to ring, these will very often incur additional charges. That may not come as a surprise to you, but did you know that if you’re planning on videoing your ceremony, things can get even more expensive? Due to copyright laws, you may have to pay extra to even sing hymns, play music or to print lyrics onto an order of service sheet. (You did think about order of service sheets, didn’t you?) Your vicar will let you know if they own their own copyright license to cover these costs. So, like I said, do your research and leave no stone unturned because your £322 church wedding could well turn out to be more than double that amount, especially if you’re thinking of having flowers, bows on pews, live musicians, a videographer or anything else.
Once you have your budget set and a very long list in front of you of everything you’re likely to need, double check that you haven’t forgotten anything. Did you write “Wedding Dress” on your list? I bet you did! But did you write wedding shoes, underwear or jewellery? And does your budget for the dress include a tiara or veil, or anything else you may want to wear on the day? I won’t mention hair or make up, or possibly a manicure or a tanning session, because this will come under the Beauty section of your list. (Do you want any beauty treatments in preparation for your big day? If you do, write it down!)
With a double and triple checked list, now you’re left with the difficult part: prioritising. I’d suggest, on a scale of 1-5, working out how important each item on your list is. Where can you save money? Could you make your own table decorations? Is it really worth spending £400 on a cake? How important are the wedding cars? Are the cars more or less important than the cake? Do you really need six ushers in matching suits? You get the idea.
Think Outside the Box
Here’s a little tip for you: one item often overlooked on wedding lists is ‘thank you’ presents for your parents, best man, bridesmaids and ushers. Not all couples decide to buy presents, but if you do, it can add up to a lot of money you hadn’t initially budgeted for. Rather than cutting costs on more important things that will make your day special, how about forgetting about the presents and instead arranging a special dinner for everyone, where you can all get together after your honeymoon? Not only will it give you something else to look forward to when you get back, and a chance to reconnect again (and look over the photos), but it will free up crucial funds before the big day whilst giving you time to save a bit more cash to pay for it.
Knowing What’s Important
This is all down to personal choice, but I’d say the most important things on your wedding day should be your venue, the food and the entertainment. Your £400 cake may look beautiful, but in reality, your guests are likely to give it nothing but a brief glance (and that’s just some of the women…I have yet to see a man walk over to the cake table!) Scrimping on your DJ – who will keep your guests happy and entertained for the entire evening – should be far more important than the fancy swirls on a cake that will be demolished in seconds. As I said, it’s all down to personal choice. If you feel the cake deserves a bigger budget, go for it! (I wouldn’t recommend it though!)
It’s your wedding….your special day…and that gives you the right to do whatever you want! But you are, after all, hosting a party – maybe the biggest party you’ve ever organised in your life. My advice is to think about your guests and what will be important to them, whilst ensuring the things that are important to you are still budgeted for. That way, you won’t go far wrong. And if you are on a limited budget, be brutal and omit the things that really don’t matter. You’ll end up saving a great deal of money whilst ensuring all the major things are the best they can possibly be.