Post # 1
I’m a little confused and I’m getting mixed messages from those around me, so maybe the bees could chime in with their advice.
FI and I just got engaged (yay!) April 1, and we are starting to plan our wedding for Oct. 2014. I know we are really jumping in quickly, but I’m currently looking for a job, so we figured we’d take advantage of my free time to do some planning.
We came up with a rough guest list, determining that we’d be somewhere around 120-150 guests and then decided that we didn’t want to spend more than 20-25k on the wedding, so drew up a budget. I used the percentages that I found in a wedding book, then adjusted them a bit to fit our needs and am currently looking for a reception venue that will fit neatly into my price range, which I think is roughly $50-70 per person considering that we will need to account for tax and tip.
My parents (who are contributing to the wedding, but we have no idea how much) are telling me that I’m going about this all wrong. They said that I should first go to the places I want to get married, see what the prices are and then build my budget around that. They also seem to think that the reception will be a greater percentage of the total budget than my books are telling me (I’m figuring that reception – venue and food will be about 50% of the total wedding cost).
I’m afraid that if I go about doing things the way my parents suggest I’m going to wind up with a much higher budget than I intend and I’ve found that most venues/caterers I’ve talked to on the phone thus far want to know how much we have budgeted for the reception.
Am I really going about this the wrong way?
Post # 3
@sweet5k: Well we didn’t exactly establish a budget, but I would say that you should figure out what is most important to you: for example, if you love good food or you have a specific vision for what your reception will look like, then start with what the venue will cost and find ways to cut back later if need be. If the music, photographer or flowers are at your top, maybe you should see how much the one you really love costs and find a venue that is less expensive. I think that the venue and photographer are at the top of most people’s lists (those photo’s will be with you forever and the venue will really enhance the pictures). I do think that 50% is probably accurate for food/drinks and the price of renting it, unless that is your big splurge.
Post # 4
I tend to agree with @swisea01: Figure out what is most important to you and focus your attention (and finances) there. For example, my parents contributed about $10000 towards the wedding, give or take. They let me know this amount pretty early on so I knew what I had to work with. Anything above that was my responsibility to pay for. It’s an awkward conversation that you just have to have. Find out where your parents stand so you can understand what you have to work with.
For me, I knew I wanted good food, a good photographer, and people to have a good time. So I skimped a little on the venue, well actually I just got a little creative and saved a ton of money. If you look outside the box you can find amazing things that don’t cost an arm and a leg. I never used a formula to calculate what things should be costing. But here’s how it all broke down, roughly… When it’s all said and done our wedding, with everything included is about $15000 total.
My main priorities: Appetizers, meal, cake, beer and wine for 75 guests: 30%
Wedding rings: 9%
Decorations, flowers, linens, and other incidentals: about 7%
Post # 5
There’s no reason that you can’t have an expensive photographer at an inexpensive venue or an inexpensive photographer at an expensive venue, and the same is true for all of your wedding expenses.
We looked at all the budget percentage guides too, but numbers are going to be very different. Our venue is way more than 50% of our budget, but that includes the ceremony and reception space, all of the food, linens, chairs, etc., and some entertainment for the guests. Our photographer is 10% of our budget. Everything else is probably less than the suggested percentage.
I would recommend that you have a general idea of how much you want to spend and how many people you want to invite, then start looking at venues. You don’t want to fall in love with a place that will be way too expensive or way too small, but you can shop around within a general range and see what you like. Once you get an idea, you can adjust your budget accordingly. For example, if you find somewhere you love that’s slightly more than you expected, you can cut costs elsewhere (vendors, decor, etc.). Alternatively, if you find several places you like and aren’t dead set on one, you can pick the cheapest and splurge on something else.
Post # 6
@swisea01: Thank you both for your input, I feel like this is more or less similar to what I am doing. While we don’t know how much my parents plan to contribute (and they won’t give an actual number) we do know that we could afford a 20-25k budget on our own, so we see anything they may give as a bonus. Also, while I have figured out percentages that are important to us; I’m not completely inflexible there. My goal is just to have the reception at a more expensive place for a less expensive meal/time of day/season or if that fails, find a less expensive place.
I think if anything, my parents feel that our total budget is too low, or that the venue/food should be more like 75-80% of total wedding cost, but for FI and I, there are other things, like pictures, gifts for parents and attendants, Welcome Bags and music that rank pretty high on our list as well.
I am from an area where $100/person is fairly common – so I get that I need to be creative, but I think $25k on one day is already pretty insane and I wouldn’t be comfortable spending more than that even if I did have the money.
Post # 7
@sweet5k: I think you should stay true to yourself and your beliefs. If your parents want to have such a strong opinion about what you should be spending then they need to be more upfront about what they are able to contribute. You should check out a book called “A Practical Wedding”. I can’t recommend it enough! Helps keep things in perspective!
Post # 8
I think 50% sounds about right! Our budget for our formal luncheon wedding and night out clubbing (except my dress) was 3k. We’re spending about $1500 on the caterer!
Post # 9
Definitely find what works for you for mine the Venue/Food/Drink is about 66% of my budget.
We trimed other places to make it work because for us our tops were:
Music/Dance Floor Space
We originally had about the 50% rule but the dance floor space was crap due to the size of the room. So we upped it and cut back everything else 🙂
Post # 10
I think it’s very situational, based on exactly how & what you want your wedding to be.
If having all of your family & friends there is important, then start there – look for venues that can accomodate your guest list size.
We are planning things in this order :
– set a date
– determined guest list size
– determined we wanted an outdoor location
– determined we wanted a sit down dinner reception, followed by open bar & dancing
Food is also important, but that will come later.
Post # 11
For me it was:
– Guest list (determines which venues you can have)
– Season of wedding
– Photographer (because people like photographers, DJs, bands, DOCs, have fixed market prices and it doesn’t whether you’re a big or small wedding)
– and THEN venue and everything else
I much preferred a cheap venue and good vendors like an amazing wedding planner and florist than a pretty venue but then no money left for all the other things
Post # 12
Thanks everyone – basically it seems like everyone has very different approaches to this, which I’m gussing with why my parents and I are approaching it so differently. At least now I know that neither of us are right or wrong. I’ll try to accomodate them the best I can without going crazy splurging on things.
Post # 13
I agree with having the budget talk with anyone contributing….then you might make a list of the 3 things that are most important to you and FI. THat helped me set priorities. Since food, drink and venue were my top 3, it made sense that our reception was 75% of the budget. It also helped me not overspend on things that weren’t high on my list.
I picked the date first, then did a rough guest count, then went in search of venues. I knew I wanted a venue where we could pick our own catering and booz, so that helped. After venue, I picked my other vendors, because I knew how much I had left roughly to spend.
Post # 14
We set our budget first then looked at all the venues. We did it this way because there are a ton of vendors for every little thing that you will need and one of them will most lilely fall within your budget.