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3 Tips for the Budget-Conscious Bride

The wedding budget is, without a doubt, one of the biggest concerns for the newly-engaged couple looking to minimize the fiscal impact of a wedding shindig. While budgets sound like easily-maintainable lists and figures when you’re getting started, they can quickly spiral out of control during the planning process. Little expenses pile up, guest lists blossom into twice your intended number, and small charges, such as tips and tax, sneak up on you. Here are a few tips for keeping on top of your wedding budget without spending every night slaving over a spreadsheet:
  1. Compile a wedding budget FIRST
While it may seem like a good strategy to figure out your guest list or ideal ambiance first, that isn’t necessarily step one in your list of things to do now that you’re newly engaged. Ideally, your first step is figuring out how much you have to work with. You may be dreaming big, but if you set your heart on 200 guests or custom dance floors before crunching the numbers, it will be much harder to scale back your expectations. Figure out your budget, and then decide on the style and guest count of your day. You can swing larger numbers or swankier décor if you scale back in the other department, but you should be prepared to do that from the get-go.
  1. Know where your funds are coming from before spending them
On that subject – who is paying for your wedding? If it’s all coming from your own pocket the numbers become simpler, but if either family has pledged to chip in or shoulder the bulk of the finances, things can become complicated quickly. While you know your family better than anyone, it’s always best to hold off on spending money until the cash is in hand. While your aunt may have mentioned that she’d pay for your wedding gown, don’t go off and buy the perfect dress without knowing for sure that they money is coming in. Ideally, have your aunt (or parent or future in-law or whoever) pay first-hand instead of promising reimbursement. This way, the individual financing the expense has a hand in the wedding experience and you can be sure you won’t be stuck with a larger slice of the pie than you anticipated.
  1. Update your budget as you go
The last bit of advice – don’t forget about the budget, even if you feel that you’re “probably staying in range” of your original discussion. Small expenses, such as favors, tips, or invitation upgrades, can add up quickly and derail an otherwise foolproof wedding budget. Keep lines of communication open between all spending parties, and anticipate holding a few casual meetings to catch up with the budget as planning continues.
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Concerns for the Newly Engaged

A good friend and colleague of mine got engaged over the weekend, and was full of questions when she was back to work. Most of them built up to one bigger concern – where should she even start? If you have a tentative wedding date in mind as soon as you’re engaged, there are a few things you should consider before you start looking through specific details for your day. Before you start picking out centerpieces and trying on dresses, jot these down in a newly purchased wedding planner:   Figure out a guest list
You won’t need a set-in-stone guest list until you send your save-the-dates or invites before your wedding, but all of your other decisions depend on at least a fuzzy picture of who you expect to be attending your big day. A guest list of 50 versus 100 will change the way you spend your $5,000 budget. Much like the earlier budget decision, your thoughts on your guest list composition will color the picture you’ll start to craft of your ideal wedding. This decision is best left for after determining your budget. You can always scale your budget down, but it’s harder to do that with a guest list once you have your heart set on the friends and family you hope to see on your wedding day.   Figure out a budget
It’s easy to get swept up in the romance of a new engagement, but making decisions, even small ones like linens and candles, without a budget can really throw a wrench into the wedding experience. If you get your heart set on a venue or guest list without first figuring out what you can afford, you’ll find yourself disappointed way ahead of time. Even if your wedding is far off in the future, or you know that you’ll need to save up a bit before you start committing to definite plans, know what your end goal is before searching for inspiration online. Have a dollar amount in mind so you aren’t reaching for the moon during your preemptive planning. Weddings can be spectacular on any budget, so don’t fret!   Enjoy the moment!
For the moment, stop planning and start enjoying being engaged. Take your nose out of Pinterest and enjoy some time to yourselves. This is especially important now, as relatives and friends will likely be asking about wedding plans in droves. A simple “we really haven’t started thinking about it yet” will allow some time to digest your ideal plans in favor of some more realistic ones before you start leaking details. Let it settle, enjoy the enthusiasm around you, and start seriously planning a few months down the road.

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Spreadsheets for a Perfect Wedding Budget

Congratulations on your engagement! The first few months of your engagement (depending on how long you want to wait for the big day) can be a little overwhelming if you start planning things out early. Figuring out budgets and checking out locations can become a little disorganized, and I definitely recommend a solid wedding spreadsheet.

Microsoft Excel is designed to be easy to use and helpful, and is especially wonderful during the wedding planning process - take advantage of it! If you aren't comfortable using Excel (or an equivalent program), try to get help from your new fiancé/fiancée or a particularly friendly coworker. I first learned how to navigate the wonderful world of spreadsheets by looking around on Google and YouTube for quick "basics" tutorials, as you won't need anything past a basic understanding to create a good wedding spreadsheet - it's an amazing tool, as it practically does all of your budgeting for you.   Columns! So Exciting!
Columns can be organized by different budget scenarios, with the running total on top (for ease of access), starting with your ideal budget and working toward budgets that are more specific. I recommend one column for an ideal budget, a column for projected budget (how much you think you'll actually spend. Depending on different variables, you can have multiples of these), a column for various quoted prices, and an actual money spent column. These columns will help you to keep your budget in perspective as you move forward, and it works well for testing out different combinations and package options to see how they would affect your overall budget. Sometimes it's hard to visualize all budget outcomes without a tangible guide, and Excel is a great solution. Rows! Hooray!
Your rows can be as general or specific as you like, but keep in mind that you can always add subheadings for specific items that are a part of a larger group. You can have a row for "party rentals" and a row for "tables," or you can group them together as a single expense. These groupings will change depending on how inclusive venues and packages are and you can always group them in later columns. The reason that Excel is such a great wedding planning tool is that no expense with take you by surprise at the last minute as you add up your expenses and discuss priorities with your future spouse. Excel can be a singular tool that keeps track of your expenses and helps you decide where you want to spend your money on your wedding day! Color code away!

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Don’t get broke after your wedding

Weddings can be very expensive. So if you do not want to be broke after your wedding, then you will need to plan ahead and prepare a budget. Wedding venues are quite expensive. Even if you choose the church as your venue, you will have to shell out quite a sum for the entire day. Private venues will ask for a deposit. It will be best if you can get married in your backyard or maybe on the beach. This way, you can save a lot of money on venue cost. For floral arrangements, you can choose seasonal flowers so that they do not charge you a bomb. Wedding photographers charge a lot of money. But you cannot do away with wedding photographs. It is best to request a relative or a friend to help you click photographs. You can also divide the task among more than one people. Now let’s come to your wedding gown. You can get very good wedding gowns at extremely reasonable prices at factory outlets. You can also try shopping online. You can have a simple menu for the guests but do not compromise on the quality of the food. That will not be taken in too well by the guests.
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Preparing Wedding Budget

Wedding is a special occasion in everyone’s life. All of us would want to have a fabulous wedding. But that does not mean that we get burdened with debt just to have that dream wedding. It is best to chalk out a budget at the onset so that the cost does not get out of hand. Make a list of every thing before hand starting from flowers to drinks to food to decorations and various others. This way you will know before hand what are the things that you need to take care of. Once the list is done, get it reviewed by some close people especially those people who might finance the wedding. Before you decide on the venue, check out all the options available. Call them up and ask them about the charges and deposits involved. Talk to the florists, decorators, caterers and others about their charges. See if you can get a discount. Surf the net for testimonials and other advice. There are many blogs and discussion forums that talk about weddings. You can also take the opinion of friends and families. Once you decide on the details, make sure that they do not overstretch the budget fixed for them.
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