The B Word

To the world, the ‘B’ word has an exclusive definition that I dare not repeat. However, in the world of weddings and events the ‘B’ word is still one that is difficult to cough up but, one that is core to accomplishing a clients vision. The first matter to address when meeting a new and potential client is, the b…..budget.

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Image via: officialent.com

Not to belittle brides-to-be however, I equate them to children gathered at a birthday party.  Their primary focus is not on the number of invited guests nor the color choice of balloons but, instead, the birthday cake.  If my memory serves me well, the birthday cake was the highlight of any given kids birthday party.  Brides are no different as a rule. They tend to get excited and rush out to purchase their wedding gown, hire a photographer and spend half of their budget before attending to the big-ticket items.  This spells disaster!

As a couple, you first and foremost need to prioritize those things that are most important to you.  This will influence where the bulk of your budget will go.  Determine what you want to spend on the entire wedding and then break it down into individual categories.  Knowing the type of wedding you want then allows you to calculate a per-person budget.  To achieve an estimated figure, multiply the per-person amount by the number of guests and then, add 10-15 percent. Location, location!  Research what a wedding in your area or the area you choose to wed in typically costs.  It goes without saying that a wedding in New York will prove to be more expensive than one held in Paris, Texas.

Caterers, decor and entertainment are definitely the big-ticket items.  A significant slice of your budget is directed and dedicated to the catering. Whether you choose to have a sit down dinner or a buffet style dinner, you want to make sure your guests are catered to accordingly. Wedding/event planners understand the science behind working with various caterers and vendors alike and, therefore, prove to be instrumental when it comes to taming your budget. If you are on the verge of planning your wedding, I would highly recommend you researching planners in your area and consider hiring one. I have been planning weddings and events for the last thirty-two years and I can’t stress enough the overlooked costs that will alter your budget considerably.  I would like to leave you with my top ten list of commonly overlooked costs that you should factor into your overall budget.

  • Service charge and gratuity for catering food and beverage: This usually amounts to 20-22 percent over the food and beverage cost.  You must also add tax for the pre-service charge.
  • Framing and matting of pre-wedding portraiture
  • Valet parking fees: Please don’t let your guests be the ones to reach into their pockets to attend your event.
  • Gown and other formal wear alteration fees
  • Cake-cutting fees: Many venues require that you use their in-house pastry chef to create wedding cake(s).  Should you choose to use an outside vendor, expect a cake cutting fee of $2.50 to $7.50 per person.
  • Overtime fees: Vendors who plan on striking the event will charge overtime fees if they do so past the initial agreed upon contracted time.
  • Postage: Invitations and response cards need to be mailed out and stamped.
  • Consumption vs. package bar: Consumption bars charge for every drink served whereas, package bars charge one upfront estimate.
  • Calligraphy
  • Wedding-day accessory items: This includes but, is not limited to items like the guest book, pen, cake knife and server, etc.

The most important piece of advice I can give you is to be smart, plan wisely, curb astronomical expectations, and if possible, hire a planner to help you stay in control.

The bottom line is that you are getting married. The wedding is one day. The marriage is forever!

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