Ask Colin: Planning


Photo by Samuel Lippke Studios

Wedding Costs: Where Should The Money Go?

The wedding budget covers more than just the reception food and beverage costs. You'll also have to consider these, among some others:

  • Invitations
  • Fees for the officiant and ceremony site
  • Wedding attire
  • Transportation
  • Flowers
  • Photography
  • Gifts for the attendants
  • Gratuities
  • Wedding Planner
  • Favors
  • Décor
  • Music
  • The honeymoon

We all know weddings can be expensive, and if you have never been exposed to the cost of hosting a special event in a hotel, restaurant or club, the price tag of a typical wedding reception may shock you. Whether your budget is large or small, however, your main objective is probably to squeeze the most value out of the dollars you have to spend. If you and your fiancé are paying for your own wedding, setting the budget should be a relatively straightforward process. Often, however, the bride's or groom's family is involved in paying for parts of the wedding. In this case, you should probably sit down with your parents and have a frank discussion about the wedding budget.

The highest-cost items are generally food, beverages and equipment rentals, such as tents, tables, and chairs. So, being creative and controlled with your spending in these areas will have the most impact. Instead of skimping on the standard approach, make different, creative choices and you'll have a great celebration that fits your personality and budget.

My general philosophy is to do five things really well instead of 10 things poorly. The priorities are different for each couple. Some may know they want to splurge on the food and venue and not care much for professional photography or entertainment. Others may want to splurge on an open bar, but go DIY with decorations. Whatever your preference, be sure to decide together what you're willing to invest in and what can be cut back. As long as you're both honest about what's really important to you now, there will be fewer surprises (and arguments) in the future.

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