January is the start of wedding season because so many people get engaged over the holidays. This is the month couples begin the planning, attend bridal shows and visit venues. That was my fiance and I last year, only we weren’t visiting any venues because we had a destination wedding. I learned two things: it’s possible to plan a wedding from far away and on a budget.
I relied a lot on reviews. I also asked for references and called past customers when I had questions about a vendor. Former brides are a wealth of knowledge, and you should tap into their vast planning knowledge. It’s a joyous day that so many brides would love to re-live while giving honest feedback about their vendors.
Once you do some basic research and know how you want your wedding to look and feel, sit down with your fiance and put pen to paper. Decide on a budget early so you’re not swayed later on by products or ideas that will put you over budget. Trust me, there will be many things that you think you can’t live without until you look at the dollars and cents.
Don’t just make up an imaginary number for your budget. Consider where the money is coming from. Are the two of you paying for the wedding or will your parents or relatives help? If you’re paying for it, look at your bank account and know exactly how much you have in it and how much you’ll be able to contribute between now and your wedding date.
If your parents are contributing to the event, ask them how much they will contribute. Don’t rely on generalities. Get specific with your finances.
Be realistic, and decide where you will skimp if you go over budget. It’s easier to lay the ground rules before you start spending and making decisions so you avoid the urge to use your credit card.
Create a spreadsheet to keep track of expenses
Do your research so you don’t overlook expenses. For example, it’s easy to forget postage and that can really add up. You need two stamps per invite, and don’t forget about those save the date cards and thank you notes. If you’re thinking about oversized invitations, you’ll need extra postage.
Don’t forget alterations. This is usually a last minute cost as the alterations don’t happen until you’re close to the wedding day. You may be told the fees depend on how the dress fits. My dress was much bigger than expected, and this happens a lot. My seamstress even made a comment that the dress shop ordered the wrong size for me, but I later looked at my measurements compared to the manufacturer recommendations and they ordered the recommended size. I thought I was paying for their bridal store’s expertise as well, but they don’t stray much from the recommendations because if the dress is too small the shop and bride are stuck.
Taxes and gratuity are hidden in most contracts, and they can cost you up to 30% of the price of your wedding food and drink. Ask about these. They can be expensive, and are not pointed out by some venues.
Don’t forget the rings. Your fiance may have just splurged for your diamond engagement ring, but don’t forget you need a wedding band too.
New categories will come to you throughout the planning process, and that’s okay if you set aside a cash reserve for these unexpected expenses. Create an Excel Spreadsheet with your spending categories and budget. This will come in handy throughout the months of planning.
Begin merging your money
Many people will tell you money is one of the biggest disagreements in a new marriage. I suggest opening up a joint credit card while you’re engaged and planning the big day. It’s a good way to begin sharing your money and bills. It’s also a great way to earn rewards.
Don’t rely on your credit card to spend money if you don’t have the cash to pay off the balance every month. Only get this credit card if you are good with money and won’t rack up debt. It is a good idea to charge expenses because you are $5-25,000+. Why not get rewards for all that money spent?
There is speculation in the consumer industry that credit card companies will begin adding up to a 4% surcharge to credit card purchases. It’s allowed under new rules that take effect soon, but I don’t see this becoming widespread soon. More to come on this issue in the coming days, and rest assured I’ll be watching this in the months to come.
My fiance and I evaluated credit card offers, and did a cost benefit analysis to figure out which one would give us the most bang for our buck. Don’t exclude credit cards that have a yearly fee. Sometimes these cards give you better perks than a free card.
Before you can do a cost benefit analysis, figure out what you want to get with your rewards. Do you want a cash credit on your statement or do you want a product for your new home or kitchen? Some credit card companies don’t offer good cash redemption policies. They require a lot of points compared with the number you need for a product. Decide what’s important for you and your fiance.
That will help you determine the card that will net you the most rewards.
The first few months of planning can be overwhelming. You have so many big decisions to make in such a short time. Find some time to relax and enjoy your new fiance. It’s hard to avoid stress while wedding planning, but try.
Set a calendar and decide what you want to accomplish each month. This will help you stay on task and have fun while planning the most blissful day of your life.
Related links you may like:
Wedding decorations on a budget
Airport parking that won’t break your budget
Picture perfect honeymoon or vacation – best travel review sites
Do it yourself bride: invitations