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Monday, August 18, 2008

Creating a Budget

Yesterday, I asked each bride to create a vision of her perfect wedding. Today, we're going to take a look at that vision and see how that translates to a budget.

But first, let's talk cold hard cash. Who's paying for this thing?

A few decades ago, the parents of the bride paid for most of the wedding, with the groom's parents picking up the bar tab. Those days are gone. LOL

But that doesn't mean that your parents won't help out. So the first step in planning your budget is asking your parents (both the bride's and the groom's) if they are willing to help. If they say yes, get a commitment of either a money figure or a budget line item. Are the groom's parents willing to pay the bar bill? Are the bride's parents willing to give you some cash?

Your next step in creating a budget is realistically coming up with an amount YOU can afford to spend. For instance, it may not seem off the charts to spend $10,000 on your wedding. In fact, in this day and age that's a low number. But where are you going to get that ten grand?

If you have savings, you're ahead of the game and the money you saved might serve as your magic number. Otherwise known as the amount you can spend!

If you're planning on paying as you go, which many brides and grooms do...with credit cards that you pay off monthly...then you need to consider your entire financial picture. Can you pay off everything you charge every month? If you can't, what's a realistic amount to pay off each month? Can you afford $100, $200 or $800 each month?

If you can afford to pay $800 each month for an entire year before your wedding...that's actually only $9600. If you're willing to pay $800 each month before the wedding and for a year after your wedding that's still only $19,200. And that doesn't include interest.

That's today's reality check. LOL

And that's also how you come up with the amount you can spend. Be realistic. Remember, too, that anything you carry over after your wedding affects your lifestyle for as long as the debt remains unpaid.

Okay...So once you have a number, a realistic amount you can spend, then we start talking budget line items. And now we take a look at either the picture board or the written version of your wedding.

You should have separated your vision into ceremony and reception, but we're going to break those down even further. Your ceremony includes people, music, decorations, travel. Your reception includes food, drink, travel, decorations, entertainment.

Each of these categories breaksdown even further! And that's where you get your line items for your spreadsheet.

At the ceremony, for instance, people breaks down into the bride and groom, person/people needed to perform the ceremony, parents of bride and groom, attendants (groomsmen, bridesmaids, flower girl, ringbearer), music.

If you're creating your "spreadsheet" in a notebook or in a spreadsheet program such as Excel the system is basically the same...You create a page for the ceremony. You can use the people, decorations and travel as your headings in the lefthand column, then create line items beneath them.

Columns beside the lefthand line item column include "Contacted" (where you place a checkmark if you've contacted him or her or the person's phone number for future reference), "Date" "Price" "Date" "Down Payment" "Date" "Balance" "Date" and "Paid in Full" Date".

Like this (I'm not sure how this will translate in the blog...but here goes...)

Contacted Date Price/Fee Date Down Payment Date Balance Date Paid in Full Date

Note that everything you do has a date column beside it for you to record the day you got the fee, made the downpayment, paid the balance in full. It's as important for you to list the date you contacted people and/or paid them as it is to list that you contacted them and/or paid them. LOL. This is for your reference. Lots of people also leave a column for check numbers.

Once you have your columns headed and your 3 main items of ceremony, people and travel broken down, then you can begin actually making line items.

Here is where weddings differ and where I'm going to give you instructions and then ask you to create your own line items!

First, our example...

People needed at the ceremony breaks down to: (And people whose pictures should be on your picture board or who should be mentioned in the "vision" you wrote...)

1. Person to perform ceremony
2. Assistants (like altar boys and readers if you're having a religious ceremony)
3. Musicians
4. Singers

Each one of those has to be contacted and has to be paid.

So you would list each one.

The next segment of the "ceremony" budget might seem a little out of place, but, trust me, doing it by "envisioning" what you see at your ceremony, you won't miss anything and won't have to add money later to an already stretched budget.

Why do I want you to think about all the "people" at your wedding ceremony? Two reasons. Moms and dads, grandmas and grandpas, god parents, ring bearers, flower girls, bridesmaids and groomsmen all need flowers. Some of them also get gifts.

So leave a few lines below your segment of ceremony "performers" (LOL) and write flowers.

Because that's the next big ticket item for your ceremony.

You need flowers as decorations, but you also need bouquets, buttoneers and coursages.

Then list mom and dad, grandma and grandpa (etc).

Since you've listed flowers, this is a good place to also list floral decorations you need for the church, JP's office, or wherever your ceremony will take place.

Then leave two spaces and write gifts...Below that write the name of every person who gets a gift.

Then leave two spaces and write clothes. Yes, clothes. Because you aren't going naked. At least I hope not. You will want a dress, jewelry, shoes, veil, undergarments. Your groom needs a tux, shoes, socks, etc.

This is also the place where you add in manicures, pedicures and salon visits. Are you getting your hair done? Should you get it dyed the week before?


Are you paying for mom's dress and dad's tux? The flower girl's dress? Typically, everyone involved in a wedding pays for his or her own clothing. But if you're someone in special circumstances who has promised to pay for someone's gown or tux...Get that in your budget right now.

Why? Because you need to see...actually see on your spreadsheet...that you might not be able to afford to be generous. Or that you've stretched your generosity to its limits by paying for your sister's dress and you can't pay for anyone else!

That takes care of people. You now have made accommodations to pay the people performing your ceremony and who are performing at your ceremony. You've bought flowers. You've bought gifts. Everyone is dressed. Next, it's time to decorate.

Decorations for the ceremony typically breaks down into the area around the bride and groom; seats; walls, windows and walkway. What do you want to decorate? For some, your work will be done. Your church or JP may only allow you to bring a floral arrangement or two. For others, you may need seat markers and window decorations...or decorations for some other part of the church.

For those of you who are having outdoor weddings you also need to be 'seeing' and writing down things like chairs, podium for the person officiating the ceremony, and something to walk on.

This is the reason that I believe no one budget spreadsheet works. A person having a church wedding doesn't have to worry about seating and/or an altar. A church comes with those things. A person getting married at the office of a justice of the peace might not be permitted to decorate. She may not even be allowed to invite guests. Or if she can invite guests, the number allowed at the ceremony may be limited.

This is why you need to either write out your vision, clearly and concisely, including all people and settings or make a picture board and from that vision pull the items you will need. Because no two weddings are created equal!

To finish your ceremony section of the spreadsheet, you would fill in the transportation section. Are you renting a limo? If so, who rides in it? How is everybody else getting to the wedding? Remember...it's not a sin to ask someone to drive him or herself to the wedding!

You follow that procedure for the reception. Looking at your picture board or reading your vision to find your line items.

The next step is to begin getting prices for all the things you have listed on your budget. The first thing most people do is talk to the reception hall. Why? Because dinner for the reception is probably your big ticket item. If the hall or caterer charges $100 a plate and your want 100 guests...That's $10,000 right there. Knowing you need $5,000 for the other things on your list and your budget is only $10,000 (we're low-balling the numbers for ease of explanation) then you don't enough money for 100 guests.

Ah...now we're beginning to see why everyone agonizes over the guest list!

The real bottom line to budgeting is to create your sheet listing everything you want or need and do some "shopping" by getting prices from florists, caterers, DJ's, and dress shops. Then start thinking about where you can be ecomonical. You won't want to skimp on dinner...but if mums are cheaper than roses, you may want to consider cutting down on what you spend for boquets!

And that's how you create and work with a budget. You don't have to list things the way I have. I did it this way because I like to SEE things! I'm very visual. By envisioning a bride walking down the aisle or a bride and groom walking around a reception room, I see everything needed to make the scene complete!

You may not be visual. You may also decide to have sections like Bride, Groom, Ceremony and Reception. Or Personal, Ceremony, Party.

There are no hard and fast rules, but there are cautions. Whatever system you choose to figure out what you'll need, what you want and how much you can pay...work very hard to get everything in the picture! Don't forget small items like a flower for grandma's dress. Don't think you have enough money to generously pay for the flower girl's dress until you've seen the numbers!

Because that's the real reason to have a budget. It's a way to map out everything so that you make provision for speical touches and don't put yourself in debt for the rest of your life! LOL

Thursday, we'll talk bridesmaids!



Blogger Brandy said...

Nope, I'm definitely a visual person. Thanks for all this!

August 19, 2008 at 1:47 PM  
Blogger Julie Hilton Steele said...

I am going to copy this and send to my frugal daughter.

August 19, 2008 at 3:03 PM  
Blogger Susan said...

LOL. It's all information that I got from brides, grooms, parents of the bride and/or groom.

The visual technique really works.


August 19, 2008 at 3:40 PM  

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