So, You’ve Got a Wedding, to Plan

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So, the big question’s been popped, and the response was a resounding “YES!”

You and your sweetie are getting hitched! Your heart’s overflowing—nay, exploding—with love and sheer joy. Now, all you can think about is the wedding. What will you wear? Should you have it locally or in your hometown? Do you want to have a black tie affair or, like, a relaxed, heavy metal theme?

Before you commit to anything (other than your S.O.), we’ve got a few tips to help you plan a day that you’ll remember fondly for years to come … without wreaking havoc on your finances.

1 – Make a Wedding Mission Statement

Maddie Eisenhart, Chief Revenue Officer at A Practical Wedding, recommends that your first order of business should be agreeing to a wedding mission statement with your partner. She says, “People try to plan backwards. They get attached to a vision, for example, a particular venue, but then their guest list and budget don’t match up.”

It makes sense, every solid plan needs a mission, right? So, spend some time thinking about what really matters most to you about your day—what will make it special, fun and memorable? Ask your partner to do the same, and then bring those visions together. Where’s the overlap? What are the non-negotiables?

For example, let’s say that you want a ceremony on the beach with every single one of your schoolmates (going back to pre-K) in attendance. Your honey has an eye on inviting his extended family and serving really good food. The overlap, here, is clearly Guest List with a capital “G,” and your mission statement might look something like this:

We want to be surrounded by all of the friends and family who’ve shaped our lives, and we want beautiful photos that capture all of their kooky, loving, neurotic, kind faces on our big day.

By establishing your mission, together—right at the start—wedding decisions will be a whole lot easier. In the hypothetical situation, above, the guest list and a photographer are the clear priorities. The beach can wait for future vacations, eh?

2 – Consider How Much Can You Spend

The second thing you need to know is your budget. How much money do you actually have to spend? How much do you even want to spend? It’s all too easy to get trapped by the high cost of what you think you should have and lose sight of what would actually bring you the most joy. Remember, you get to spend the rest of your life with your sweetie. How does the price tag for this one event weigh in with your long-term goals, like buying a home, having kids or (of course) those beachy vacays?

Consider what you’re willing and able to pay, as a couple, factoring in a realistic monthly savings goal and your wedding date. And, don’t assume you’ll get a tax return, a bonus, a raise or money from your family. You need real numbers so you can really plan, so nail down the details as best you can.

Pro tip: a budget can really help with this—on average, new budgeters save $600 by month two and more than $6,000 in the first year with YNAB—and you can see for yourself by signing up for our free, 34-day trial. You can get started in under an hour.

If you’ve never talked about finances with your partner, before, it might feel awkward, but this is the perfect opportunity to begin. Plus, couples who budget together are happier and, well, they’re just really happy.

3 – Give Every Dollar A Job

Once you’ve nailed down your priorities (your wedding mission statement) and you’ve got a good grasp on how much money you have to pull everything off, it’s time to decide where to drop those dollars. Maddie offered this advice: “If I were getting married now, I would definitely set up a budget, in advance. It’s really easy to spend more than you intended and end up thousands of dollars in the hole.”

You don’t want to begin wedded life in the hole, do you? Thought so.

Now, it’s time for your virtual shopping spree. If, like me, you have no idea how much wedding venues and accoutrements cost, polish up your Google-fu and prepare your mobile device for actual phone calls. Find out how much places, services and things cost. Then, create a category group in YNAB with a category for each …

So, You’ve Got a Wedding, to Plan

Your list will, no doubt, be much longer than this one, but you get the idea. If you need it, put it on the list.

Of course, as you’re interviewing vendors and getting bids, press them for written quotes that account for every detail. Make sure that you understand exactly what they are agreeing to provide for the cost. And, even after all of that, it’s still a good idea to have a “Stuff We Forgot to Budget For” (a.k.a., “Don’t Go Into Debt”) category. There are a lot of hidden costs in planning a wedding, such as tips for your vendors, taxes, alterations and unexpected circumstances (rain!).

Let your mission statement dictate what makes it into the budget and how it’s prioritized within those expenses. Then set goals for everything to make sure you have enough when it’s time to pay your vendors. If you need help, drop into our free, online class, Reach your Savings Goals. It’s only 20 minutes long, and our teachers would be happy to answer your questions.

4 – Don’t Forget to Daydream

As you gather your research, don’t forget: this IS exciting. Don’t feel deflated if the numbers seem impossible—that’s just a challenge to get creative. Can you push out your date to save for the day you’ve always dreamed of? Or maybe you just want to start life, together, and a small, simple ceremony is all you really care about.

Plan according to your personal preferences, there’s no wrong or right way to do this, as long as you and your partner are smiling on the big day!

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