In the song “Billionaire,” Travie McCoy sings of what he would buy with all of that money. From spending his way onto the cover of Forbes Magazine to playing basketball with the President and sitting next to Oprah, he dreams of the limitless possibilities that money can bring and without any thought to budgeting. Oh what a life that would be for any of us.
Unfortunately, though, most of us don’t have a billion dollars to throw around and budgeting what we do have to spend in our households and businesses is something that we have to consider every day. Necessities take priority over non-essential items. But, determining what is or what is not a priority can even be a challenge. Often times it boils down to what we need most to survive. Sometimes, “want” trumps “need.” It just depends on the individual and how much expendable cash they have to spend.
“Once you’ve determined what your wedding priorities are,
you can create a reasonable wedding budget.”
The same can be said for setting a budget for a wedding. Some items are a necessity like a church, a venue and even a photographer. Others items are merely a want. That doesn’t mean you can’t have both, it simply means that determining priorities becomes a priority in itself. Once you’ve determined what your wedding priorities are, you can create a reasonable wedding budget; giving preference first to the items you must have, then to the items that are wants, then to the items you can live without.
When I meet with couples to discuss the DJ entertainment for their wedding reception, I ask them to describe how they envision their wedding reception in 3 adjectives. I then ask them what they want their guests to remember most about their wedding. If you’ve not done this exercise, please try it.
If your answer to the second question is that you want your guests, as an example, to remember the food, the flowers or décor over every other element of your wedding, then that is probably where you will want to invest most of your budget. If you want them to remember how much fun they had, then you might want to invest more in quality DJ entertainment or even a band. Shifting money into your priorities, though, means that there will be less to spend on other elements of your reception.
Where some couples make a huge mistake is in trying to have their cake and eat it, too (pun intended). Instead of prioritizing, they skimp on everything in an effort to have it all. That leads to a lack of quality in all of those areas, as well. Instead of having a wedding day with memories to be treasured for a lifetime, they have a stressful, disorganized and memorable for all of the wrong reasons kind of day. That’s not to imply that you have to max out your credit cards to get what you want and need. There’s plenty of ways to save money and have the most creatively fun wedding, ever!
“There’s plenty of ways to save money and
have the most creatively fun wedding, ever!”
Many couples today are doing away with buffets and plated meals in favor of heavy hors d’oeuvres. They’re far less expensive and often served in an atmosphere that promotes wandering and socializing as opposed to table seating. Without table seating, the need for elaborate center pieces, additional flowers and chair covers is greatly reduced or eliminated. There’s money that has now been saved that can be invested in other areas of greater priority.
A DJ friend of mine performed at a wedding in Southern California where the couple had an outdoor ceremony and reception. They had the reception area set for traditional dining with linen covered tables and chairs, but they had “In & Out Burger” as their caterer. It was the bride and grooms favorite place to eat and the servers were introduced with great fanfare to the “In & Out Burger” jingle. It was a fun and memorable moment and awesome personal touch. Plus, they saved a ton on food costs, which allowed them to afford my DJ friend’s fee.
I’m working with more and more couples who have opted out of the need for an elaborate wedding cake. They’re purchasing one moderately decorated layer for the traditional wedding cake cutting and photos, but they’ve also purchased less expensive and equally delicious sheet cakes that are portioned in the kitchen. The guests never know the difference and the savings are huge. Besides, next time you go to a wedding, take a walk by the cake table towards the end of the evening and see how much of it has gone uneaten. The only thing worse than spending more than needed is wasting money. Left over cake is a waste.
“If you’re spending money on wedding items
because you think you have to, think again.”
These are just three examples of how you can easily save money. But, here’s one more to consider. If you’re spending money on wedding items because you think you have to, think again. No guest ever went home complaining that they did not get a party favor. I’ve never seen a guest turn up their nose to chicken as opposed to steak or stand all night because their chair didn’t have a satin cover. The ballrooms I’ve performed in as a wedding DJ have never lost their appeal because there was no up-lighting and no guest ever went home early because the centerpieces didn’t live up to their expectations. And, this one won’t fly with a lot of readers, there’s nothing wrong with making beer and wine available as a courtesy, but I don’t see the breech in etiquette for making mixed drinks only available through a cash bar.
A wedding reception is a celebration, not just of your marriage but of who you are as individuals. Be yourselves. Throw the kind of party that matches your personality and style, one that your friends and family will recognize as an unmistakable reflection of you. Thinking in those terms, you might find a number of ways to be both creative and budget savvy. Plus, you could easily see your budget priorities shift. You now have more to spend on a quality photographer and/or exceptional wedding DJ entertainment.
“Let’s talk about the reality of wedding discounts.”
And finally, let’s talk about the reality of wedding discounts. Some wedding professionals are excited to discount their services to you before you’ve even asked. The question you should ask yourself is “Why?” Saturdays for most of us in the wedding profession are our only inventory. There are only 52 of them in a year. Some professionals may discount a date because it’s coming up fast and they’re still open. That can well be considered a legitimate reason. Others may have a less than noble motive. If they tout that they are “the best” at what they do and offer a discount in the same breath, be cautious. Always shop around. Never contract anyone without meeting them or checking their references. Don’t get caught up in a battle of discounts that could cost you more in the end. And, if any wedding professional says “we don’t need a contract,” run away as fast as you can.
Set your wedding priorities and spend wisely and you’ll not only enjoy the wedding of your dreams, you’ll have money left over for that honeymoon you’ve been looking forward to throughout the planning process!