There are countless resources and online worksheets couples can use to figure out how to divide up their wedding money. The budget conversation is not usually very fun, but always necessary. Having the conversation at the beginning of planning will save a tremendous amount of stress down the line.
Mistake #1: Going Over Budget
Decide on your wedding budget before you plan or purchase anything, and stick to it! The biggest mistake I see brides make is when they jump right into the details, the plans and the purchasing before even pausing to think about the overall picture. You don’t want to start your marriage in debt, and a beautiful wedding can be planned for any amount of money, no matter how great or small. If you go over budget on one element, make sure to cut back somewhere else to make up for it.
￼Mistake #2: The Wedding Date
Pick a day that will work best for your family, your budget, and the location of the wedding. Don’t try to get married in Chicago over marathon weekend or have a destination wedding during hurricane season. If your fiancé is an accountant, don’t get married in tax season!
Mistake #3: Venue Selection
You can’t design something that flies in the face of the venue’s inherent decor. For instance, you can’t force all gold if there are many large silver chandeliers. You should always check to see what kinds of tabletop and décor pieces are already in-house, and see what you may want to bring in. Design with the venue in mind. Have your flower sample at the venue, bring samples of the rentals you have selected, etc. See it all together before you sign on the dotted line.
A common mistake we see with couples and their wedding venue selection is picking a space that’s too big or too small for their anticipated guest count. Speak candidly with the site manager about an ideal headcount. —Virginia Edelson, principal/owner, Bluebird Productions
Venue selection is perhaps the most critical path in the early planning stages, short of finding your soul mate. Sometimes people choose a location that does not fit their aesthetic. Transforming a modern museum into a lush Southern garden-scape, or morphing a farmhouse into a sleek, contemporary space, are just two examples of “putting the big pot in the little pot,” so to speak.
Mistake #4: No Plan B for Outdoor Weddings
Fail to plan, plan to fail. If you think it will rain, it won’t; if you think it won’t rain, it will. Instead of relying on the Nostradamus-like predictions of the local weatherman, always have a plan B.
Mistake #5: Not Reading Contracts
Hidden costs can be an unwelcome surprise. Review your contract thoroughly, with a magnifying glass, and be aware of any fine print or potential additional costs for overtime, breakdown charges and any fees for lost or damaged items. Make sure to get everything in writing when you are finalizing your vendor contracts.
Mistake #6: The Guest List
Some couples over-invite and make budget sacrifices to accommodate more people. You’d be surprised how many guests that are invited to weddings are practically strangers to the couples. Chances are some or all of these people you don’t know very well will be surprised when they open their invitation. Save your budget for what you really want and need. The biggest mistake when it comes to creating a guest list: giving blind plus-ones. There is no reason to give blanket plus-ones to single guests if they already know other people at the wedding. —Virginia Edelson
Mistake #7: Mistimed Correspondence
Clients sometimes make the error of sending out their save-the-dates or invitations between Thanksgiving and Christmas, when everyone is receiving the most mail ever for the year. Even if December 20 is the perfect date to send your invite, it’s better to send it much earlier — like the week before Thanksgiving — so it’s not lost. It’s common for mail to get lost by the USPS during December!
Mistake #8: DIY Overload
DIY is a great idea, but make sure you test it in advance. Don’t begin a project for your wedding a couple of weeks in advance only to realize it’s not going to work. You’ll be left trying to find a resolution with time running out.
Mistake #9: Relying on Friends
Couples often allow friends to take part in their wedding day, either by being crafty or perhaps as musicians for their ceremony — with disappointing results. A wedding is not a dress rehearsal. It’s a bad idea to have loved ones bear the responsibility of something so important. Have a well-executed counter response when friends offer to help, something along the lines of, “We have had an outpouring of support from people who would like to help. While we greatly appreciate your offer, we have decided as a couple not to go this route. We are looking forward to having you with us that day as a guest, celebrating.” This being said, if you have a friend or family member who is a legitimate vendor in the industry, that is a different story.
Mistake #10: Photography
All too often, couples fall in love with the photos on a photographer’s Instagram feed or in their website portfolio. Sadly, some couples are disappointed when they receive their own wedding photos. That’s because Instagram and websites are marketing tools where photographers can carefully pick photos that work best on these platforms. To ensure that couples will love, love, love their photos, I always suggest that they ask the photographer to send them a gallery link to a recent wedding. This will give the clients a more accurate picture of what they can expect.