Monthly Archives: February 2018

How can I keep my wedding within budget?

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couple cutting cake on wedding date

A wedding budget is a precious thing. Whether you have a few thousand dollars or thousands of dollars, one of the biggest wedding planning challenges is spending those dollars without going over budget. We’ve assisted many couples with staying on financial track as they plan their special day; here are tips to help plan your dream wedding without busting the budget.

Set a budget.

It’s every couple’s worst nightmare: running out of money for big ticket items because they didn’t plan. To avoid this worst-case scenario, talk to your wedding fiancé before you start planning (ask and discuss these other questions before you plan as well). Ask other friends and family who have expressed interest in contributing to your wedding expenses if they still wish to do so (and the amount of that gift).

Don’t just agree to a lump sum; break your budget down into categories so you can ensure that you allocate dollars where they are needed the most (use this wedding budget worksheet from Real Simple). Usually, the largest expenses are the parts of the wedding day that make the largest impact: wedding venue, catering, and bar expenses.

Track your expenses.

Don’t set a budget and walk away from it. Ask for estimates from key vendors (i.e. caterers, venue, photographers, videographers). Make sure the estimates fall within the budget numbers you set. Once you start getting estimates in, determine whether your guest list count jives with your allocations in your wedding budget.

Look for red flags as you plan.

Overtime fees, hidden supply fees, staffing charges. Interview every vendor you contact to determine the quality of their product or service and if the costs they quote you are the final estimate (no unpleasant surprises later!).

Be smart about all those little charges.

There are a lot of line items on a wedding budget worksheet. Small overages can add up in a big way by the time you’re done planning every detail; prioritize each expense to avoid busting your budget. As tempting as it might be to spend another hundred here and another hundred there, decide what smaller charges you really, really want (and not just really want!).

Remember, too, that the lowest price does not always equal the best option. A cheap (or free) wedding venue might seem like the low-cost leader; however if your venue is vanilla, the additional costs of decorations and supplies can push the total cost over an inclusive wedding venue.

Double check your numbers at your final planning meeting.

An unexpectedly high bill can be a real downer on what’s supposed to be the most important day of your life. That being said, avoid pre-paying vendors in full until the product or service is delivered. The middle road is to choose a venue that offers a final planning meeting with a full list of charges that can be adjusted to fit your final budget. If the invoice is lower than expected, you can add in extras they wanted but were concerned about the cost. If the invoice is higher than the budget, there is still time to scale back the final wedding details to an amount that falls within your wedding budget.

What should I look for in my wedding venue tour?

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wedding venue Milwaukee WI

There are a lot of emotions that wash over you when you visit a wedding venue. Awe. Satisfied. That sweet feeling of finding the “one.” This is the backdrop for your wedding day, after all. This is also a decision that shouldn’t be dictated solely by emotion.

Your wedding venue is more than a beautiful backdrop. It’s also a logistical and practical investment that both you and your guests appreciate. No one wants to be trekking for miles because there’s no nearby parking in their best shoes. Or cramped because the venue isn’t big enough to hold all the guests that were invited. Your attendants certainly don’t want to be locking their valuables in the trunk or changing in their car. The list of wedding venue faux pas can go on and on…which is why it makes cents (literally) to pay attention to more than just aesthetics during your wedding venue tour.

Space

Like the old fairy tale, the right wedding venue is not too big and not too small. For that reason, come up with a tentative guest list count (use these wedding guest list tips) before you contact a wedding venue. Ask every wedding venue how many guests they can accommodate and make sure that every space in the venue (i.e. bar, dance floor, foyer) looks like just the right size.

Rooms

Just as important as adequate wedding venue square footage is the right wedding spaces. Ask your wedding venue about rooms you need for your big day, such as a dance floor, (large) room for changing, a secure area for your belongings, catering space, and restrooms (yes, for your guests’ sake, you even have to visit the restrooms).

Ceremony site

If you need a wedding ceremony site, look for the perfect location for that as well. Use one note of caution, however; if the wedding ceremony site is outside, look for a indoor Plan B site just in case there is inclement weather (or extreme temperatures) on your big day (this is Wisconsin, our temps can be unpredictable!).

Photo opportunities

bride and groom on steps of elegant historic wedding venueYou don’t have to be a pro to look for unique wedding photo opportunities. Keep an eye out for areas that would look terrific in your wedding album—but still give your wedding photographer the liberty to find (and take!) great photos. Look around for unique architectural details, such as stained glass windows, beautiful doorways, and a unique entrance.

Parking (please!)

While you can get dropped off on your big day, not all your guests have that same option. Ask to see the venue’s options for parking—and make sure that it is as close as the staff member says. “Yes, it’s just around the corner” just won’t cut it. Once you have verified parking, make sure that it’s not going to cost your guests an arm and a leg. If there is a small fee, let your guests know by adding the information to your wedding invite and website.

Entertainment Needs

If you want your wedding entertainment to be a big hit, make sure the venue has the electrical system that fits your band or DJ’s needs (and any uplighting they offer). You might feel like you don’t have the expertise even if you did see the outlets or electrical panel; in that case, ask the venue staff if they have had bands, DJs, and lighting at the venue in the past.

Access (for everyone)

Many wedding venues were built in a time or for a function (such as barns) that didn’t suit the needs of people with mobility issues. Ask if the wedding venue is handicap accessible (especially if there are a lot of stairs) and if you can see the alternative entrances. This simple step ensures that all of your guests can attend and enjoy themselves or if you need to make arrangements that can assist those guests. ALL of your guests’ll appreciate your due diligence.