Sitting down with my clients to hear “their story” is always a pleasure. When we get to the part of the discussion where I ask “what’s your wedding budget?”, the tone changes ever so slightly. Over time, I’ve come to realize that many engaged couples really don’t know the true costs of having a wedding, let alone their dream wedding.
Granted, there are some brides that have done their research and have some real concept of cost, but this is not the majority. As an event planner, it’s my job to truthful with my clients and let them know what’s feasible, what’s not, and, as I like to say, what “creative alternative” we can come up with that may help realize their vision.
I cannot tell you what your wedding budget should or shouldn’t be; that’s for you to determine. What I can tell you, is that you have to be realistic when setting your budget. Try to think about your budget in a per person perspective instead of one lump sum. It’s easy to toss out a number, but when you consider that each person must have a plate of food, a chair to sit in, a table to sit at, and that that table requires some type of décor, such as linen, centerpieces, and candles. To help determine what budget is good for you, here are a few guidelines:
- Keep in mind that many venues, especially hotels, have a food and beverage minimum. This is the minimum dollar amount that you’re spending just on the meal that your guests will enjoy. Sometimes people get caught up in the minimum amount required to spend, not realizing that they will exceed that number by far, based on the number of guests they’re anticipating. The menu is often broken down into costs such as $45, $55, and I’ve even seen $155 per plate. When you multiply that by your guest list, it adds up! This does not include taxes and the service charge that will be added on.
- Many venues come with tables and chairs. Some, even come with linens for the tables. What you have to keep in mind is that the chairs that the venue have to offer, may not be the chairs that will work for your chosen wedding theme or color palette. The chairs may be the wrong color, the wrong style, or simply chairs that you do not like, which means you’ll have to rent chairs that will go perfectly or work better with the vision you had in mind. Also consider if the chairs can be used in your ceremony as well.
- When we speak of table linens, today, the options are almost endless! A venue may have linens that they include in the rental fee, but they’re typically of the basic poly-cotton fabric and in your choice of black, white, or ivory. If you want specialty linen, you’ll have to rent those as well. Considering that on most occasions, you have 10 guests per round table and 6 for each long table, you can determine how many linens you’ll need. Don’t forget the napkins!
- Now that you know how many tables you have, you can then determine the number of centerpieces that you’ll need. Depending on your taste in flowers, your preference of tall or short arrangements, the cost can vary and easily add up as well. For longer tables, you’ll need a little more to cover the center than you would for a round table.
- Wedding cakes are priced by the slice and range from $6-$8 per slice with buttercream icing and can go up to $12 per slice with fondant icing. If you want to add sugar flowers to your cake, that’ll be an additional charge as each one has to be made my hand. In fact, in most cases, the per slice cost does not include specialty flavors or decorations. This is something that you’ll have to keep in mind when choosing your cake and design.
- Remember that every guest should be invited to your wedding. Generally, one invitation is given to each person or couple. Sometimes you may want to send a wedding invitation addressed to the family. Yes, it will cut down on the number of invitations you need to have but I wouldn’t suggest throwing the word family out there too quickly. You don’t always know how many people are truly coming.
If cost is a major factor, the biggest way to cut that cost is to reduce your guest count. The more people you have, the more of everything you need to have. All of the above suggestions are just little things to consider, so that you’re better prepared to answer the question, “what’s your wedding budget?” Happy planning!