The perfect wedding comes from a perfect budget.

For AnnaBelle Events, it’s inquiry season — all the couples who got engaged in the fall and over the holidays are ready to start planning. One of your first steps is building your budget. If you’ve made the wise choice of hiring a wedding planner (nudge, nudge) then a budget meeting will be one of their first to-dos. Include all contributors in these talks, because you’ll need everyone on the same page about why flowers cost $4,000, or how a videographer is completely different than a photographer (and you need both!).

Rather than go through all the things you should budget for, we are going to cover things you should avoid — the budget busters.

1. Exclusive Venues

While recommended vendors are great, having exclusive vendors is much different. This will lock you into their prices, services, and policies. If you find a venue with exclusive agreements, make sure you have pricing from all those vendors before signing your venue contract.

2. Venues without Amenities

Yes, I’m sticking to venues for two of these busters — it’s the first thing you book and it determines nearly every other vendor you use. Our No. 2 budget buster is the venue that is just a building — maybe it has bathrooms (let’s hope) and a “caterer kitchen” (meaning sink, water, and refrigeration). The price is right, so you think you’ve scored. Take a breath — then sprint to your nearest rental service (A-1 Rental is awesome) and get estimates on everything else. Don’t let rentals be a budget buster just because you thought the venue was a good deal. 

3. The Outdoors

The everlasting trend of Midwest weddings! You throw up a white tent and invite your closest 100 friends and family. It won’t be more than a few grand, right? Wrong! You also need bathrooms, power generators, outdoor lighting, parking, parking lighting, transportation to and from parking, rain plan items, catering tent and equipment, ice and ice trailer, fans or A/C or heat, bug spray, landscaping — and that’s just naming the essential items.

4. Unvoiced Parent Opinions

This is why you should include contributors in budget talks. At that meeting, encourage everyone to voice their full, specific opinions. Real-life story: A bride’s dad said steak and decent wine were a must. We got it accounted and budgeted for. Fast-forward a few months to the catering tasting. Dad ended up wanting filets and table service for everyone. As you can imagine, the price of a filet times 350 guests was much different than standard wedding steak. The budget was busted, and guess who it fell back on? The bride. And she ended up having to cut things she really wanted because of it.

5. An Untracked Budget

Track every single thing that you and anyone else spends. If you don’t, you will end up going crazy in one of two ways. The first is when you go crazy saying, “I’m spending like a crazy person!” and think you’ve overspent — because when else in your life are you dropping $1,000 deposit checks every other day? The second is when you go crazy saying, “Everything is going to be fine!” and start rattling off those $1,000 checks like nothing. Then you go to add everything up and realize you busted your budget. Then you have to cut things like gifts to your wedding party, alterations, and even hair and makeup.

There are your budget busters! Rip this page out and put it at the front of the budget section in your wedding binder. Leave the busting for the groomsmen’s moves on the dance floor.

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