Setting a budget for a wedding reception and ceremony often means finding a balance between fantasy and reality.  There may be a long list of luxuries a bride dreams of for this important day: fresh flowers, hand-crafted invitations, a custom-made gown, designer shoes, ice-sculptures and satin floor length tablecloths. And if money is no object, why not turn your dream into a reality.  But if budget matters, and for most couples it does. Here are some thoughts on how to strike a balance between I want and I can do.

  1. Talk about it. It seems simple enough, but some couples don’t approach this often sensitive subject until well into wedding planning only to realize they’re not on the same page. This can lead to disappointment, stress and unnecessary arguments.  If appropriate, take the time to discover who may be helping pay for the wedding and how much they will contribute. Knowing all this up front will lay the foundation for responsible planning.
  2. Prioritize. Make a list of must have items vs. would be nice items. Once you know how much you will be spending, decide what you most want to spend it on. That may mean forgoing a few items from the would be nice category in order to get more of your must haves. And compromise on these. Make sure both the bride’s and the groom’s must haves are represented.
  3.  Stay focused, but flexible. Wedding planning is often a process of discovery and while you should honor your budget and priorities, it’s ok to change your mind about what you want along the way.  For example, if you realize that planning an off-season wedding affords you more from your would be nice category, revisit the original plan to get married in the summer.

Yes, it’s only one day – but it’s big one. And it should be beautiful, meaningful and special. A little planning and budgeting can go a long in bring a wedding fantasy (well, most of it) to life.

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