Wedding Budgeting: Middle of the Road

- by Lisa R. Nelson

I spent the last blog speaking about lower budget weddings. I do not want to ignore medium to high budgets because these couples face challenges as well. 99% of my clients are in this range – the infamous middle. The budget is large enough to splurge on a few things, but not large enough to go all out on everything. Choices have to be made. If you fall into this group, I have one word for you: prioritize.
One problem that sometimes crops up is that small-but-important issues can be overlooked until it's too late. I will give a few examples…

A couple decides to get married at her childhood church and have her reception at a chic hotel inside a large city. They have considered all of the fun stuff; such as, site fees, rentals, food, flowers, lighting and the like. What haven’t they considered? Where are her guests going to park? In larger cities, often times it’s meter parking on the streets – even on a Saturday night. Sometimes it’s very pricy garage parking at the hotel, or less expensive (if you are lucky) garage parking 2-3 blocks down from the venue. By the time the couple realizes the problem, they do not have money in the budget to provide transportation, pay for valet, or pay for parking spaces. So, in the end, the couple has a very nice wedding, but their guests have to navigate foreign streets, pay for a pricy parking spots, walk a few blocks, or park on the street and worry about getting towed.

Another sometimes overlooked area is the bar. Do what you can do for your budget and leave it at that. A few hours without alcohol is not going to kill anyone (at least I hope not!). I am not advocating that you have to offer a high end liquor bar, or no liquor at all; but if you offer it, then you should pay for it.

When you start planning, make sure that you ask the right questions. A beautiful venue is important, no doubt, but it’s not the only aspect of a successful event. Make sure to budget for food, bar, transport/parking, wait staff, tips, service fees, tax, linens, tables, chairs, etc – and then decide if this is something that you can/want to do. This way, you will have a complete picture – there will be no surprises, and you can make your choices accordingly.
I know it’s hard to make these decisions because you might want everything. It’s also easy for someone to come in and say – you should do this or you should do that. That’s where prioritizing comes in. Only you can determine what’s most important. After determining how much the chic hotel is going to cost, maybe you would opt for another site so that you could have your name displayed on your dance floor. Or, maybe you decide go with the chic hotel, but decide to downsize the bar. No matter what choices you make, your guests should never be prioritized last.


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