Getting married and having a wedding does not have to break the bank (contrary to what some might say or have you believe). And even if you want to have a wedding that feels royal and regal, you don’t need to spend every last penny in your bank account to make it a reality.
A lot goes into plannings a wedding; food, invitations, venue, photos, hotels, and more, but with a little planning, you can have the day of your dreams within a budget you can afford. One thing is clear about Millennials: stuff is not our favorite thing. We crave more experiences. So my advice as you plan your wedding is to make it an experience for you and your guests.
In order for you to have the wedding of your dreams, and celebrate like the royals, there are a few things you need to do right away.
Set a Budget on Day One
Yes, the dreaded conversation about the budget. But if you don’t have this conversation before you start looking at venues and caterers and decorations, you are bound to spend more than you should and have a few disagreements along the way.
After the euphoria of the engagement subsides, it is time to sit down with your future spouse and discuss a few things. The item that will drive the rest of the conversations will be the budget. When you set that number, everything else will fall into place.
A few key items to remember as you set the budget (in no particular order):
- Venue Cost
- Cost of Food (This averages $10-50 per person)
- Cost of Alcohol
- Decoration Cost
- Cost of Gifts
- Cost of Clothes (purchase and/or rental)
- Photographer / Videographer
- Cake / Dessert
- Rehearsal Dinner
- Other Random Expenses (like party favors)
Set the Goals, Together
After you have the total budget number, it is time to start discussing some of the small details which will play a big role in how you remember your special day.
- What kind of a feel do you want your guests to have? One thing my husband and I agreed on early on was that we wanted our guests to feel comfortable and if they remembered nothing else, we wanted them to remember the food. So we set a goal of having great food and a unique, comfortable experience for everyone.
- How involved will your families be? For some, family involvement is paramount and causes no stress. For others, family involvement only adds stress. You will need to discuss early on the roles your respective will take in planning and helping on your special day. It should be a fun day for everyone, your families, and most of all, you!
- Who will be in charge of what aspects of the wedding? One person can not plan it all; nor should they. Each of you probably has a different set of skills which will come in handy in planning the wedding; use them. If one of you is great at planning, own that. If one of you is better at decorating, own that. Together, you can put together the perfect day with limited stress.
Make a Tight Invite List
A very simple way to keep your costs low is to keep the invite list small. A good rule of thumb to remember as you build your invite list is that between 50-75% of invited wedding guests will attend. And by attending, they are costing you money (in food, decor, etc.).
If you come from a smaller family, this will be easier than if you have dozens of cousins and aunts and uncles. The list can get large in a hurry.
None of us will invite the 3,500 guests that Princess Diana and Prince Charles invited to their 1981 wedding at St. Paul Cathedral, or Prince William’s to Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge’s 1,900 guests a few years ago.
But if your goal is to make your wedding “feel” like a royal event, keeping your guest list manageable is key.
Get Creative with Decor
This is one area where you can really save money (which means you can do more in other areas and make a great impact on your guests). For instance, once you know the theme of your wedding, you can start to shop for items you will need.
For our wedding, we needed 22 decorative bird cages for table centerpieces. Because we knew we were going to need that, we were able to shop around and wait for the best price; and we got it. Then, instead of taking all 22 of them home after the event, we put tags on them all and family and friends got to take one home. Our decor became gifts! It was a win/win for everyone!
The thing about decorations is that a little can go a long way. The venue can add a lot while not adding extra costs. And if your goal is to make your wedding feel like a royal wedding, think about the little things.
For instance, what does the table-setting look like, what alcohol will your serve, what music will you play, and what will your colors be? We were able to create a rustic chic style by hosting our day outside and at a winery. The decor was built into the venue and we added to it with our unique small touches which made our place feel elegant. What better visual than a sun setting over a winery?
The Day is Yours
Overall, the wedding day is yours. Make it so. Only do what you want to do. And my last piece of advice is personal: Don’t stress out about too much. At zero-hour, you’ll be married; and in the end, nothing else matters. Enjoy it.
A two-time political candidate and author, Richard is passionate about financial planning, business, technology, and really good whiskey. Oh, and good German beer, too.