I’m engaged! Now what do I do…
I got engaged almost two weeks ago and y’all it has been a CRAZY week. I started saving for my wedding before I was engaged and I am SO thankful I did. We are paying for our wedding and our goal is to pay in cash. The costs add up SO FAST.
I am only two weeks into this process but I wanted to share with you a few tips and lessons I’ve learned so far.
Before you start planning take a second to breathe. You are engaged. You will get married. It will all work out. Things might not go perfectly but at the end of the day, you will get married to the love of your life so just take a few seconds to breathe. Wedding planning is pretty overwhelming and some vendor prices might make you want to cry but it will all work out. Okay, once you’ve done that you can continue to read.
2. Set Your Budget
Since I was already saving for my wedding before we got engaged I already had an idea for my wedding budget. It is important to set your budget before you do any real wedding planning so you don’t fall in love with venues out of price range or say yes to vendors you can’t afford. I try to set my target budget with a lower and upper limit. The lower limit would be amazing if I stayed under that amount, my budget is the amount I am trying to spend, and the upper limit is the amount I will not go over. If your parents (or his/her parents) are helping to pay for the wedding, make sure you include them in the conversation to see what they plan on paying for so you can decide how much you and your fiancé need to spend. If you need help budgeting in general, make sure to check out Your Sunny Money Method. I wrote a full course review here. You can also hire me to be your money coach.
3. Figure Out What is Most Important to You
There are so many different moving pieces when you are planning a wedding. You need a ceremony venue, reception venue (sometimes it is the same as ceremony), photographer, caterer, decorations, invitations, florists, etc. The list goes on and on and it can be QUITE overwhelming. I sat with my fiancé and we decided on 3-4 aspects of our wedding that are most important to us. This is where we would be willing to spend a little extra on (while cutting other areas). The venue was one of our top priorities because we have a ton of people coming from out of town so we want it close to downtown and with multiple hotel options. I really care about the photographer because that is what you have after the wedding is over. We both do not care about flowers or invitations (people just throw them out after).
4. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help from Social Media
My local Facebook group has been so helpful. I write in the group asking for recommendations for certain vendors and so far I have received great feedback. It can be a daunting process to sit through weddingwire.com or theknot.com and try to find out what vendor you want. Facebook groups and Instagram hashtags have been super helpful because you find local people and people who other couples in your area actually used. It is a great starting point for getting a list of potential vendors together.
The wedding industry is extremely competitive. Vendors who want your business will try to work with you so don’t be afraid to negotiate. When we narrowed down our venue choices to our favorite two, I reached out to both and said we are down to two venues but it comes down to price. I told them what was most expensive about each and asked if there was anything they could do to help alleviate some of the financial stress. One venue said they would throw in the tables and chairs for all the guests for free and also lowered the cost of our alcohol package. Y’all it does NOT hurt to ask. They know they are in a competitive space. The worst-case scenario is they say no we cannot lower the cost and then you decide from there. Sometimes vendors charge a credit card fee. If they do, try to pay that specific vendor in cash. It is also a good time to get some cashback/travel rewards if you can use credit cards responsibly.
6. Guest List
I thought I had like 5 friends (which I pretty much do) but the guest list adds up SO FAST. You need to talk to your fiancé and decide how many people you both can have on your list. Try to stick to that number because it really adds up. After you and your fiancé create your list, you need to send it to your parents (especially if they are helping to pay) to see who you missed. You might then argue over if that person is really necessary but that is part of the fun right? For me, if I haven’t spoken to that person in a few years and we really don’t have any idea what is going on in each other’s lives, then they don’t make the cut. Maybe we were BFF once or have all these crazy memories together, but you also need to think each person is worth about $40-$70 for food (US average). Each person you invite takes up a chair, eats food, drinks beverages/alcohol, requires a table, etc. The costs add up reaaaallll fast. Make sure you invite the people who matter but don’t just invite someone because you want a gift.
Remember your wedding is NOT the time to go into debt or add to your debt. You need to focus on your marriage. Although wedding planning is super exciting, after the wedding is over you will be married to your partner. Make sure that is where your focus is.
I attached the Wedding Budget Template I am personally using for my wedding so feel free to use it as well. If you have any questions, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will continue to write wedding posts as I go through this journey and share any money-saving tips or lessons I learn so stay tuned!