Newly Engaged Starter Guide Part 3: Money, Money, Money

29 01 2010

Go back and read Part 1 (Words of Wisdom) and Part 2 (the Big Picture).

Studies have shown that married couples argue most about money so why not start with the wedding! Just kidding. Look at this as practice. I learned a lot about how my husband does finances during the wedding planning process. Not that I agree with how he handles money but at least I now know what I’m dealing with. I like to start with a budget that we can afford and are comfortable with and then see what we can fit within it. Whereas, he likes to start with what he wants and then figuring out a way to pay for it. Yeah – I can see why couples argue about money.

How much will you need? You will need to do some homework to figure this out but there is a lot of information out there.  Just like if you were to throw a dinner party for 10 people and you only have $100 in the bank. How would you figure out your menu? Will you have money left over for decorating your house? Maybe you go to the grocery store and party store and start pricing things out. Maybe you go online and research some affordable recipes. I love using home renovation as an example too. Say you want to renovate your kitchen. How will you go about it? You could tear out pictures from magazines of kitchen ideas you like. You could go on line and see how much that pretty sink would cost. You could go to your local tile store and check out your options. You get the idea. Do the legwork. There is no way to avoid this. Yes, it’s time consuming but you can quickly determine if this is going to be a $10k wedding or a $100k wedding. Order of magnitude is good enough at this point.

How will you pay for the wedding? I feel that the ideal way to avoid any potential stress resulting from people wanting to provide their input because they are contributing monetarily is to pay for the entire wedding yourselves. Just elimintate the possibility altogether. Now, I understand that we are not talking about a small chunk of change and that it may not be possible to pay for the whole wedding and honeymoon yourselves. Here are a few other possible scenarios:

  • If your parents/family/friends have generously offered to help, will they be contributing in general or for something specific? Will they want to have some say on the decisions made with their money? What to do here is different for every situation and depends highly on your relationship with your parents. If you foresee that this could become a sticky issue, pick something specific that they can pay for but you have to be willing to accommodate their wishes on this specific item. Maybe they can pay for the band or the rehearsal dinner.
  • But what if your parents/family/friends are unable to help financially or what if you have other current plans for your savings? Wait. Maybe it’s a few months. Maybe it’s a year or two. It’s OK. Start saving. Come up with a savings plan for a reasonable amount of time to reach a certain dollar amount. Nobody says you have to get married now. But if you don’t want to wait and you don’t have the money, then you need to adjust your expectations for your wedding to match the reality of your budget. Even celebrities have this dilemma!

There are a lot of demands for your hard earned money and in my experience, people tend to plan weddings amidst other major activities happening in their lives. Many of my clients were in law school, medical school, grad school, while others were getting new jobs, moving to a new city, buying a house, doing major home renovations. Basically, there were other major life changes happening while trying to plan a wedding. For example, John and I were finishing our previously unfinished attic and I was on a temporary work assignment that kept me away from home for 3 months while trying to apply to business school. Tiles, carpet and lighting were competing with DJ, flowers and honeymoon for the same pot of money. You just need to do what makes sense for you at this moment in time.

OK. I’ve got this money thing figured out. Now what? I’m a big advocate for setting up a separate bank account for wedding expenses. Later on, this account can be turned into your emergency fund, vacations savings or retirement account. I also have  some additional tips on setting up your budget here.

That was long. Next week, I will discuss some Keys to Success. Writing this series has also inspired others for future posts so email me if you have any topics you would like to cover vicky {at} eventaccomplished dot com – Vicky



2 responses

29 01 2010
Evan Reitmeyer - MyDeejay

Great advice! It’s definitely essential to figure out a total budget before booking anything for your wedding. Don’t believe the lists of “how much you should budget for X” that you’ll find online or in books. Pricing for vendors varies wildly based on location, so you’ll want to gather quotes from several companies before deciding what is/isn’t “expensive”. A great resource is, which can give you a location-based range of prices for your area. Great advice again, Vicky – this is a great series!!

31 01 2010

Thanks Evan for reading and also the resource. I agree that while the generic wedding budgets breakdown suggested by many websites and magazines is a good place to start, you are absolutely right in that they not account for a few other factors. A prime example is music. While those suggested wedding budgets say that 10% of your budget should be devoted to music, that percentage does not make any sense, I think regardless of region. It makes more sense if you want a band or live music in general. But just because a couple says music is their top priority does not mean that they automatically want to have a band/live music. Some just prefer DJs.

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