The Foundation For Successful Wedding Planning!
It’s completely natural to want to jump head first into your wedding planning adventure the very second you become engaged. After all, most people have been building the vision for their wedding in their head for months already – if not years. Although such enthusiasm is infectious, be careful to not let it get you ahead of yourself. Before you starting planning, there are two key things that you and your fiancée MUST do to ensure you are properly prepared for the road ahead.
1) Determine Your Budget
2) Plan Your Guest List
Ignoring these details until you’re already deep into wedding planning can spell disaster and cause bucket-loads of unneeded stress. Simply put, these two initial planning steps go hand-in-hand and together, will set the base for your entire planning experience.
Determine Your Budget
Some people might feel that this is an obvious first step when it comes to wedding planning but you would be shocked to learn how many couples jump straight into their planning without ever discussing their finances and solidifying a wedding budget. In fact, most couples actually do this process completely backwards. They start planning the vision (and even commit to some details like the venue, the dress, etc.) and THEN try to build their budget around that vision. But, this approach usually spells t-r-o-u-b-l-e. After all, you wouldn’t walk into a Porsche dealership to buy a car if you knew you had a VW budget, right? Wedding planning is the EXACT same thing.
It’s quite simple really. Before you begin planning your vision, you need to know what you can afford to spend and more importantly, what you are comfortable spending. Discussing your finances and budget as a couple before you start planning offers numerous benefits:
- It ensures that you and your fiancée are on the same page and reduces the potential for stress and tension between the two of you later on.
- You will have the opportunity to be more proactive and will have time to create a realistic savings plan together.
- It provides you with financial direction when sourcing and speaking with various wedding vendors.
- And possibly most important, it will help you avoid falling into wedding debt (which, for many, can take years to rebound from)!
Plan Your Guest List
For many reasons, most couples tend to avoid the topic of their guest list as long as possible but addressing this detail before you start wedding planning is far more important than you may think. Although I will always say that a strong understanding of your budget is the foundation for successful wedding planning, knowing your guest list from the very start leads you in determining HOW you will utilize that budget.
To help support this, let’s do a little quick math (what can I say? I’m a bit of a nerd).
Let’s say you have a wedding budget of $30,000 and your preferred venue’s per person cost for the reception dinner is $125/person. If your guest list is 200ppl, the cost of your reception dinner will be $25,000 which leaves little to no room in your budget for extras like decor, favours, cake, etc. On the flip side, if your ideal guest list is only 80ppl, your reception costs will amount to $10,000 which now leaves much more room in your budget for all of the other details you might wish to include.
Knowing your guest list in advance won’t necessarily change your budget but it will help you determine how and where you spend your funds. For instance, in the above scenario, you may not be able to reduce your guest list but you could source a new venue option with a lower per person reception cost. Or, if you know you have room in your budget because you are only inviting 80ppl, you may decide to upgrade your dinner menu or include additional decor elements.
In the end, it’s not about the actual size of your budget or guest list. It’s about KNOWING these details before you begin. This will allow you to plan based on real numbers rather than false assumptions.
A Couple of Additional Wedding Planning Tips…
DO look at the big picture!
Talk about your future goals as a couple (buying a home, having kids, etc.) as well as your current commitments such as loan payments or investments. Even though you might be able to afford to spend $50k on your wedding that doesn’t necessarily mean you should.
DON’T assume you will receive money from your family!
If you think a family member has planned to financially contribute to your wedding, have an open discussion with them. All too often, couples assume they will receive financial help only to be disappointed and, potentially, left over budget. Never assume you know someone else’s financial situation – even your closest relatives.
Guest List Planning
DO plan for everyone to attend!
Doing so, allows you to err on the side of caution for everything – venue space, decor, menu costs, etc. If the vast majority of your guests do RSVP ‘yes’, you won’t be panicking at the last minute because you under planned or under budgeted.
DON’T simply guess at your numbers!
In almost every case, a couple underestimates the size of their guest list before they actually put pen to paper. Spend the time and plan your list from the very start. This will help avoid disastrous planning issues such as booking a venue that’s too small for your actual group size.