Show Me the Money
By Patti Herioux
With Love, Event Planner
Before you take a hammer to your piggy bank take a moment to design a budget that will serve as your financial advisor in your wedding planning process. Be sure to be realistic about what you can afford. You can download a sample Chicago wedding budget here to give you an idea of what percentages to allocate to each area and how much can expect to spend based on average cost of a Chicago wedding.
A wedding is suppose to be a joyful time for you to be able to celebrate the love you and your fiancé have for each other, not a black hole of debt that the two of you will have to start your married days climbing out of. Take this step before you do anything else! The goal is to get through the wedding and still have a few dollars in your pocket!
STEP 1: HAVE THE MONEY TALK
Your first step to determining the budget is to have a serious discussion with all people contributing to paying for the expenses of this extravaganza. In most situations this will be the bride and groom and their parents. Discuss the amounts that will be given, when it can be expected and any stipulations that may come with these donations.
Determine the exact dollar amounts that you know you can afford. I highly recommend you do not take a loan, depend on your credit cards, bet on money that you don’t absolutely know will be delivered by promising parties, or overextend yourself in the areas of your life that are not negotiable (rent must be paid, car payments must be made, you get the picture). Work only with guaranteed funds!
STEP 2: ALLOCATE YOUR FUNDS
There are certain people that you absolutely need to hire to have a party of this scale. (Check out the “We’ve Got You Covered” article. Once you have established whom you will need to hire, like a caterer and photographer, weigh their importance to you on a personal level. To some people the food will be the most important, to some it may be having a Band or DJ that keeps the dance floor full all night. For some of you, the most important thing may be the perfect gown. What is that gets you most excited about your day? Knowing what is most important to you will help you to know where you may want to put a little extra cushion for spending.
STEP 3: STICK TO YOUR BUDGET
This will be the hard part. Once you get into the planning you will want to have it all. You have determined what you have to spend in each category, so do your very best to stick as close to that dollar amount as possible! Don’t be afraid to ask to negotiate on price if something is more than you can spend. The worst somebody will do is tell you no. But most of all, don’t tease yourself by visiting vendors or venues that you know are out of budget.
STEP 4: CONTRACTUAL OBLIGATIONS
When you make your final decision and ask for a contract, read the fine print before you sign on the dotted line. Verify that the services you are receiving are clearly outlined and you are getting what you think you are getting. There must be an agreed upon price written on that contract. Also, ask for any overtime prices to be given in writing so you know what you are in for if you should need it. Another thing to be aware of is required gratuities and taxes.
However, the most notable place to be aware of the extras is on the contract with your venue or caterer. In the Chicagoland area you will most likely be required to pay a service charge and sales tax on top of your quoted rates. Service charges are on average anywhere from 18-23%. Ask your venue for their tax rate, and yes, your service charge is taxed as well. Does THAT fit into your budget?
AND IN THE END
After your wedding day is but a memory you will still have normal life to live. You will eventually want to buy a home, a new car, retire… don’t let this one day end up making you enter marital bliss with financial burden. The point of this day is to celebrate with family and friends, not to be stressed about paying the bills. Keep the focus where it deserves to be, on your future spouse, not on hosting a billion dollar blowout!