1/13 A Budget Cheat Sheet For The Newbie Bride

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A Budget CheatSheet for Newbie Brides

May I be the 30th person to congratulate you on your engagement. Welcome to Wedding World! Many of us have to stick to the bottom line when it comes to planning our weddings. So, here are some very short answers to your burning budget bridal questions:

1. How much is my wedding and reception going to be?

Set aside half your budget. It’s one reason why you should find your venue and caterer before you find anything else.

2. Can I shop for my dress even though I haven’t found my wedding venue, yet?

Like I could stop you. Remember that half of your budget is already gone, please. And then grab your friends and a strapless bra and have fun.

3. What’s the best way to save money on my reception?

In order: A.) Lower your guest count B.) choose a less expensive venue/caterer  C.) Limit the bar, either by type of alcohol or by length of time. You don’t have to do all of them, but any of these will help.

4. What’s the #1 thing that might bite me in the butt when I’m booking my reception site?

Tax and service. Tax here in L.A. is 10% + service is 20% =30%. 100 guests @ $50/pp = $5,000, tax & service = $1500 extra. What is it where you are? Have your potential site write a proposal so you can see the full cost in print.

5. Is DIY’ing my wedding going to save more money?

Yup. But the trade-off is the time it’s going to take to do it. And don’t let the learning curve frustrate you. The pay-off is going to make you feel like a rock star, though.

6. Invitations?

Save yourself some paper and twice the stamps and have your guests RSVP online. Or go with e-vites, if you’re feeling bold.

7. Flowers?

Stick with flowers that are in season. If you have your heart set on something that’s not, ask how you can make any arrangement less expensive.

8. Cake?

There is always leftover cake. Always. You can get a smaller cake, and then back it up with a sheet cake. But there will still be leftover cake.

9. DJ vs. iPod?

The iPod is less expensive, obviously, but needs a lot of  monitoring. The DJ can play the music and direct the party, which makes them worth the cost. My recommendation is to get a DJ you can afford.

10. Photography?

One of the only things, aside from your spouse, that you’re taking away from your wedding. You don’t have to splurge, but you will regret skimping. Go for quality, whatever your price point is. After looking around, you’ll recognize it when you see it.

11. What’s your best advice on sticking to my budget?

Simple: Stick to your budget. It’s just that easy, and just that hard. If you can’t afford it, walk away. Something you can afford and will love is out there. Don’t give up until you find it or find out how to do it. Giving up is stupid. Ask as many questions as you can until you get the answers you need. Don’t give yourself too hard a time if you splurge on something, you can figure out how to save someplace else. Just don’t make it a habit. 🙂

Do you have anything to add to my advice, or more budget questions? And, seriously, what is tax and service coming out to where you live? Let me know in the comments below.

See you at the end of the aisle,

Liz Coopersmith is the owner of Silver Charm Events, a wedding planning service in Los Angeles. She's also a regular contributor to the Huffington Post and the author of "DIY Your DOC: Do-it Yourself Wedding Day Coordination." Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.