How to budget for your dream wedding

Most starry-eyed couples want to begin married life with a dream wedding celebration. After all, a wedding is a momentous event that should be remembered for a lifetime. With this philosophy, many couples spend huge amounts on a lavish gathering, expensive wardrobe, and pricey decor and entertainment.

There is really nothing wrong with spending a little fortune on a wedding, especially if you have the means to do this. But if you were financially savvy, you would put your wedding costs in perspective so that you get a memorable wedding without having to break the bank and hopefully, still have enough left to start your own nest egg together.

For brides and grooms, here are seven tips to help you plan your wedding while leaving enough in your conjugal bank account.

Set a budget and stick to it. Before you even begin planning speak with your prospective spouse on how you intend to pay for everything. Have you saved up for it? Are your parents chipping in? Or are you going to take out a loan. It is best to minimize debt so that you don’t start your married life with a ton of payables which can cause some friction. Once you’ve talked about these matters, agree on a realistic budget. Leave a cushion of about 10 percent of your wedding budget for any unforeseen expenses.

Determine your priorities. Is there anything that you wouldn’t mind spending a lot on? If you absolutely need to have that particular item, then you could probably compromise on the other expenses. Let’s say you really want to have your wedding at an expensive church, then you can probably cut down a bit on your budget for those items that are not so important to you--perhaps the decor or the entertainment. The choice of what to cut back on will vary from couple to couple.

picture: chiffon wedding dress

Limit your guest list. Filipinos have wide extended families and lots of friends. While it would be nice to invite everyone to your wedding, it is perfectly alright if you would only limit the guest list to a select few. Explain to those not in the guest list that you have a budget to keep. One more way to manage is to keep a close eye on the RSVP--try to make your family and friends understand that you need their confirmations to ensure a memorable wedding reception.

Be creative with the venue. Instead of the usual restaurant or hotel that charges you on a per head basis, consider having your wedding and reception at a park, a courtyard, or some other large open space that is memorable to both of you and where you don’t have to pay much for in rental. You may also wish to hold your wedding on a weekday, when restaurants and hotels sometimes charge lower fees.

Manage food and drinks. Don’t think that you always have to serve a heavy five-course meal at a wedding. You may choose to just have cocktails, which means less expenses on food. If you prefer to serve meals, though, opt to have fewer food choices, or you may go for simpler dishes. You can also save by offering a buffet instead of a sit-down meal. Also cut back on alcohol served, if not none at all

Don’t spend a fortune on clothes. You don’t have to get your wedding entourage new and elaborate gowns and suits. If you want a common look, you can look at gowns for rent. Another option is to ask your sponsors or members of the entourage to wear their own choice of clothing, based on a theme or a color scheme you have chosen. This gives them the freedom to buy clothes that they really want and can use again after your wedding.

Ask friends for wedding items. When you announce wedding plans, many of your friends will ask you what you may want to receive as a present. Instead of pointing them to a registry, you may ask them to contribute towards one of the items in your wedding list – for example, the cake, sing during the reception, handle the decor, or even serve as the event organizer. Don’t be embarrassed to specify what you want--you’ll be surprised that some feel honored you asked.

Remember that a wedding is about celebrating love and togetherness, and not about mounting a lavish affair that will put a dent on your finances from the start of your married life. If you keep this in mind, you will be beginning your lives together on the right note--and hopefully the rest of the way is just as rosy. In the meantime, please accept our congratulations!

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