Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Wedding Planning 101 - Budgets & Guestlist - the first step

Welcome to wedding planning 101. A new series on the blog geared towards the thousands of brides out there. When working with a client, we typically ask about 100 questions. Here is our first two topics and the questions that go along them (what are your answers):

  1. Do you have a completed guest list yet?

  2. Is there a ball park number?

  3. Have you gotten the families involved in helping create this guest list?

  4. Have you all discussed finances?

  5. Who is going to pay for what?

  6. Is money coming from several different sources (fiance, groom's parents, bride's parents, bride, etc.)

In planning any event, these are the first two hurdles - money and how many people. It is difficult to discuss church, venue or even dresses until this is accomplished. What if you want a garden ceremony at a lovely museum, but your heart is set on a big ball gown style dress and you have 300 people....they just don't work together....Big gown = grand church, garden does not equal 300 people and so on............

Step One: So first task is to make your guest list. Make your list and count your for sures and your maybe and the I have to send it, but I know they won't come (don't be surprised if they do). Until you know how many people you expect, we can't start looking for the perfect place.

Step Two: Now that we know we are inviting every cousin, step cousin's girl friend's mother, we figure out if that is our vision. It is helpful when working with a professional to help create the dream but if anything to keep everyone in reality. Now that we have 300 people, can we afford this. I never recommend creating debt for an event. Save up or scale back. The best way to stretch a budget is to scale back on the people invited. Remember one invitation is roughly two people, but if you invite me and my family, we are 7! (yep, 5 kids, crazy, I know).

Step Three: Assign priorities. A professional wedding planner can take initial information and give you a ball park of what the budget will look like. We approach one of two ways: We create a budget based on your vision, or we create a budget, based on the number of people and average costs. Large robust centerpieces in San Antonio range from $85 - $185, depending on your style. Please email us for a wedding expense sheet (In excel). It lists all expenses and helps identify and track all expenses.

I find that most times 50% or more goes towards the reception. I also find that photography is a really important item and average for our clients in the past two years has been $5000. Not to say you can't have great photos for less, you absolutely can. In the end, you have your memories and your photos. I would say in San Antonio, you can have a very nice wedding for $25000 and you would need $40000 in Dallas or Austin. I am working on a wedding right now where the budget is $10k....all things are possible, so if these numbers are frightening, don't be.

Budgets and guest lists are the hardest part of kick starting your planning. Don't be afraid to ask questions, we are here to help. Get this first part completed and you are well on your way.

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