You’re Engaged, Now What?
Navigating Your Wedding Vision & Budget
As a newly engaged couple, there are several decisions you will be faced with while planning your wedding. Figuring out where to start can be challenging. The first thing most couples do is start thinking about venues - this is a mistake!
You can save a lot of time by determining two key factors: big picture vision and max budget.
Explore Your Vision Together
Successful relationships start with good communication, as does successful wedding planning. Ask yourselves: what do you really want?
The key information you’re looking to get from this conversation is not what your wedding venue looks like. Try and limit this to the big picture. Here are a few simple questions to help determine your big picture vision:
Who do we include in our special day?
Intimate Wedding (2-40 guests)
Small Wedding (40-75 guests)
Average Wedding (75-150)
Above Average Wedding (150-250)
Large Wedding (250+)
A good exercise is to make a preliminary, two-column guest list of ‘must haves’ and ‘would like to have’. This will help determine which category you absolutely fall into. Don’t overthink it! You’re sure to forget a few folks, but this will help set an expectation of headcount.
Where do you want to get married (City, State, Country)? List any location that applies - you’ll come back to this!
Try not to get specific and identify the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, for example. Simply list the cities/areas that work for you both.
|Wedding Date Range|
Determining a date range for your wedding is important and is a major factor in planning. Vendors, venues especially, hate to hear we’re just looking at options with no plan. Go into planning knowing what the earliest and latest month and year your are willing to host your event.
My biggest planning tip: budget is king. Your vision is important and should be realized, but budget will determine if it’s realistic and is key to decision making.
|Guideline: Average Cost of a Wedding|
A wedding can be a big investment. The national average for a wedding is around $30,000. Keep in mind this is a national average. If you live in North Dakota, for example, that number decreases to $15,000. However in New York City that number gets bumped way up around $88,000.
The first and most important question to ask: how much do we want to spend?
There is a big difference between what you have/don’t have to spend and what you want to spend. Have a candid conversation to determine what that difference is and identify what the maximum amount of money you’re both comfortable spending on a wedding? Even if your parents have a wedding nest egg set aside or money's no object, it’s important to determine a budget and stick with it. Find a number you can both live with and be sure to factor in all those long-term life goals you’re planning for as well.
Next question: do you have the money you’re willing to spend? If not, how long will it take for you to get the money? If you do need to save, determine the time it will take you to procure finances and see if that aligns with your wedding date range. If not, you may need to reconsider your vision --and so the planning process begins...
Marrying Vision & Budget: The Research Reality Check
Once you’ve landed on your big picture vision and max budget, you’re ready to start researching. These two factors will be crucial as you begin your planning process, helping you eliminate options and guide your decisions. But unless you have true event planning experience, you are likely to experience ‘sticker shock’ at least once.
I remember doing this exercise when my fiance and I got engaged. We had a conversation about a few different versions of our wedding vision, which I followed up with a very serious reality check on the costs of those visions. When I told him the estimated cost for an above average sized wedding, he almost fell off his chair! The conversation became do we want to have a small wedding and use that money as a down payment on a house or do we want a big wedding? Prime example of how vision + budget drives planning.
Knowing your space, financial and date expectations will certainly help you find the right venue, but there are many other elements that go into wedding planning and costs can add up quickly. Be sure to do your research and figure out all the factors and costs you expect to have before you book your venue.
One of my favorite services offered is Lovely's Kickstart Package. It’s an affordable two-hour meeting with an expert planner to guide you through your vision & budget. You’ll find it incredibly helpful and is a great way to start organizing your vision, outlining projected wedding costs, analyzing your budget and much more! Even if you’re a type-A, like myself, spending time with a professional will jumpstart your planning and help you find creative ways to make your vision and budget work harmoniously.
In my next post, I’ll be sharing tips on venue selection and what to look out for.
Until next time lovelies!