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Friday, September 15, 2006

1st Discussions on our Wedding

Well, I knew it couldn't last forever. My fiancée has finally turned full speed on wedding planning. She had been distracted by other projects for at least a few weeks; however, she has suddenly decided we need to book a location NOW.

What is interesting to me is how this is beginning to evolve. I can't even conceive how you can decide where you are getting married until you have a budget for the wedding. In my opinion, 1st things 1st - you don't want to book an expensive location, find out you have no money, and then can't afford the rest of the pieces of a wedding. I understand the urgency - we have tentatively targeted Fall, 2007 to get married and hence a need to secure a location before they book up.

However I am treading on thin ice when I bring up costs. My fiancée’s parents have made some vague indications of providing my fiancée with a wedding that she wants. However, no budgets have been discussed, it seems to be stressing family members and its clear that we will be paying for at least a few parts of this wedding - how much is anyone's guess.

It seems to me that it would make sense to just get everyone in a room and everyone say 'I am willing to contribute $X to the wedding' and we can begin planning from there. However, I have been advised by many people to just stay out of the way and let things play out. I'm just worried it could lead to a budgeting disaster..... anyone been down this road?


  • My personal experience was, my parents paid for almost all of the wedding, and my husband's parents said at the very beginning that they would pay for the open bar, rehearsal dinner and rabbi. We paid for little things and I pretty much got the wedding I wanted, but the arrangement also gave our parents a lot of input (for example, my parents picked the location, though I was very happy with it; my in-laws picked the rehearsal dinner location, which was also nice; and both parents had substantial input on the guest list - but then again, we were the first in our families to get married).

    I would suggest that you and your fiancee first discuss what your dream wedding would be, especially the critical question of how much input you are willing to give your parents, because the more they pay, the more influence they may feel they deserve. Also, discuss generally what both your ideals are - do you both want the same size wedding, or does one of you want grand and the other small and intimate? Formal or pretty casual? And once you agree on what your ideal wedding is, back each other up to your families.

    After you and your fiancee are on the same page, you can bring your families into it. Bankrate.com has some great articles on wedding finances, and stretcher.com has many articles on saving on wedding costs.

    Hope this helps. Congratulations and good luck! (Oh, and the advice my husband kept receiving was, appear interested but agree to whatever she says. ;) )

    By Blogger Cathy, at 3:04 PM  

  • It's certainly reasonable to ask them to give you a dollar amount, because you can't make any plans until then. They probably just haven't decided how much the can afford to give yet. Do it now before you have any expectations of how much you'd want, to avoid any chance of them getting the idea that it's not enough, and to cut the drama short.

    You didn't ask, but I'll give my opinion anyways on the relative importance of wedding components.
    1 - guest list - invite lots of people, including relatives you haven't seen in years, because this is a family affair, first of all.
    2 - location(general area, not specific location)
    3 - catering & florist
    4 - specific location
    Eighty-eight people came. We had a destination wedding, extremely competent caterers who worked with the florist to make the whole thing look and run great, one of our friends to officiate the ceremony on the deck of the B&B we stayed at. We had a friend who took pictures(over 300 at no cost to us) and a guy who played steel drums to signal the ceremony was over and it was time to eat.

    We kept it simple, no one got cranky(except for the people who were going to no matter what happened) and we got it all done with minimal financial worry or drama.

    The thing I'm most glad about is not having a paid professional photographer. They tell you they'll do the event for cheap, then make you pay for every copy of every picture afterwards, and you can only buy these wierd package deals. Want jpegs? Want to put them on flickr so that the whole family can see them? Not allowed by anyone I spoke with. They own the pictures of your event and they tell you how you're going to have them, how many you're going to have, and what you can do with them, usually limited to displaying in a cheesy physical album. The very idea that you don't own the pictures that you paid for really rubbed me the wrong way. What if something happens to the album you paid thousands for and you can't track the guy down again? The only deal you should accept is they take pictures for $x, give you the negatives or digital copies afterwards to do whatever you want with. We got over 300 pictures, video of almost the whole wedding(ours was short) and the only thing it cost us was the cost of inviting one more person.

    Hope his is helpful to you, and remember to relax and have a good time.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:34 PM  

  • Haha! I sounds like we're very much at the same place. My Fiancee's family hasn't much money, so won't be paying for much or any. My folks have agreed to pay for the cost of our family friends and relatives (in other words, their invitees). As she and I will be footing much of the bill, we have decided to set a budget regardless of any outside help. Any additional help we get is bonus.

    Also, the advice that you "stay out of the way and let things play out"? If her folks were footing the entire tab, fine. But it doesn't sound like that's the case. You're paying for some or much of it, you get a say. Also, it's your wedding too, thus you get a say.

    Don't let the bridal industry and her friends bully you! It's a scam! Run! Run while you can!

    Haha, just kidding. But don't let my Fiancee see what I wrote here. Nah, kidding again.

    By Anonymous LAMoneyGuy, at 5:57 PM  

  • Just remember the wedding is more for her than you. :-)My wife and I said the heck with it and eloped.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:41 PM  

  • I think my view is pretty unconventional. I think that the real achievement is a long-lasting marriage.

    My husband and I eloped in Las Vegas and got married and had a wonderful dinner for about $400. What was even better was that the planning of it only took an hour and it was a lot of fun. I didn't get a wedding dress and instead, spent the money on an entire new wardrobe.

    We did have a reception in our parents backyard with a simple cake and great food and wine. It was a lot of fun and no stress as I let the parents organize it.

    I know this is not for everyone and if you want a more traditional wedding, I agree with your approach. It is better to get the budget thing cleared up front so there are no ugly issues later on.

    Good luck and remember that beyond the budget, location, catering and flowers, the most important thing is having found the one person you want to share your life with...that is worth more than any 2 million...

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:21 AM  

  • I just went through the whole wedding process this last year and can appreciate your concerns. Luckily in our case my wife's father gave us a lump sum and told us that any leftover amount was ours to save or spend as we please after the wedding. I highly recommend getting a budget put in place as soon as possible or the wedding costs will spiral completely out of control. Once we had our budget from my wife's father I told my wife that whatever was leftover was hers to use to decorate our new house. I didn't agree with all the choices she made but they were hers to make and it took some, not all, of the stress out of the planning. Good luck!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:38 AM  

  • Seriously been there, done that. Set the budget and figure out how to back into it. Ie. I'm spending $800 on a dress -- lets find one.

    Keep the guest list down to bare essentials. What's wrong with 50 guests?? Also, don't buy into the "it has to be a wedding cake" thing. You can get incredible bargins by ordering a whole cake from your favorite restaurant at a fraction of the cost. Finally, look into a friday night wedding -- you'll save boatloads.

    If she's more enamored with the wedding process than what comes after (or your relationship), it's a bad sign man.

    By Blogger fin_indie, at 2:37 PM  

  • You are going to be wealthy and I suggest a pre-nup.

    Wedding cost - dont worry. You dont marry that many times and it is ok not to worry too much.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:51 PM  

  • Weddings are so different from other life events, especially for the bride. There's soooo much emotion and expectation tied up in them. And that's aside from having finally found one's soulmate!

    I don't have any great advice for you, except to try to roll with the process as much as you can.

    Try to talk as much as possible with your fiancee about it to understand her expectations, ask her questions like: "what is your dream wedding?" " what are your hopes for the wedding?" "what do you not want our wedding to be like?" etc.

    Get as much info first, then go from there, otherwise if lead by asking how much things cost, she might get defensive about it.

    The briday industry has done a horrifyingly good job of raising women's expectations of "the big day".

    By Anonymous finance girl, at 6:58 PM  

  • nodd and say yes a lot!

    Let the parents and wife to be do pretty much what works for them... have a great honeymoon, then come back focussed on the rest of your life(s).

    After 10 years, it gets blurry. After 25 you will remember what town it was in, not much else. (and that's with lot's of photo's.!)

    Do not increase the stress level by trying to input your opinion. You will be off to a much happier start.


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:49 AM  

  • As my wife's parent were both deceased, I (and my parents) paid for our wedding. We did it "on the cheap", but it was still very nice - and I used the money we saved to splurge on a "round the world, New York , London and Paris (with QEII from NY to the UK)" honeymoon ;)

    We spent a few enjoyable weekends driving around Sydney looking for a church with the right "atmosphere", did up our own wedding invitations using some nice paper, an inkjet printer and a sketch of the church the minister gave us. The biggest saving was to do the reception as an "afternoon tea" at my parent's house, which was possible because we only invited very best friends and our relatives (we don't have many living here in Australia anyhow), so we only had around 30 guests. We also got a couple of standard cakes with suitable icing from a local bakery and staked them up to construct a wedding cake - "real" wedding cakes cost a fortune and are practically inedible. It looks fantastic on the wedding photos.

    We also got several of the relatives to take photos, videos etc. and got copies of everything. Unless you're planning on sending your footage to "funniest home videos" you don't need a "professional" photographer (most are pretty average anyhow).

    The wife borrowed her wedding dress from one of her best friends, and my sister made up a veil and other bits and pieces which made nice keepsakes . (You intend to keep the dress and the wedding cake forever? Sounds like "Great Expectations")

    Anyhow, you should discuss this option with your fiancee (doing a "home made" wedding rather than the "crass, commercialised" version) and see what she says. You never know till you ask.

    Best wished for the big day.

    Best wishes for the wedding.

    By Blogger enoughwealth@yahoo.com, at 10:43 PM  

  • Sorry about the last post.

    You were right, was not having a good day, I was right that property price actually came down but "Land Price" is not coming down if you are buying prime location land, it seems the owners like me still have money, should have seen that one coming.

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    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:56 PM  

  • I just got married last month and the budget and the planning were both pretty tough.

    Begin with the end in mind. Pick up a wedding planning workbook, they often show a few examples of wedding budgets. Big ticket items for our wedding were the reception (a little over 200 guests), the photographer, and wedding bands. Clothing: wedding dress, my tuxedo, dresses and shirts for the wedding party came in a distant 4th place. Estimate what the big ticket items will cost, then trim or add from there.

    My wife and I probably spent somewhere in the neighborhood of $15 - $18k on the wedding. Poor paperwork skills prevented us from keeping a precise record. With only about $5k worth of contributions from our parents, we charged most of the expenses (for the credit card perk points) and paid the card off immediately from our savings.

    Here in Hawaii, wedding receptions tend to be the main event. I hear that the wedding rehearsal (with a smaller, tight-knit crowd) is the main event in most of the other states.

    If I got married again, I would either have forked out the money to hire a professional wedding coordinator or talked to more recently married people to find out about ideas, planning, and budgets.

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    By Anonymous george, at 5:25 PM  

  • You are in dangerous waters my friend :)

    I think it all depends on the type of people your future in-laws are. How would they react to you trying to figure out an overall budget? Can you and your fiance perhaps make a list of the max amount of $$$ you are comfortable putting into this, and making a list of what is most important to have on your wedding day? Spending all of that money on one day.... unsettling! But for the bride!

    By Blogger Freudian Slip, at 6:10 AM  

  • When I went thru the wedding planning stage with my now wife, I hemmed and hawwed about being dragged around to look at places for receptions, invitation places etc... I always thought that the wedding was a "girl" thing. But just you wait. Your wedding will be the happiest and most crazy cool experience of your life. You heard it hear first! ... maybe.

    By Anonymous Rick, at 12:43 PM  

  • I paid for our wedding myself last May. We were able to have a nice wedding on the lake with about 150 guests, catered buffet, professional photographer and dj all by being smart and calling in favors.

    We've all heard about the seven degrees of separation...well, use it to your advantage.

    The minister - was my aunt. She performed the wedding as a wedding gift.

    The caterer was a friend who works in the catering business.

    The venue was a shriners lodge on the lake that we got for below price becuase another friend is a shriner.

    The photographer was a one of my friends college roommates who just so happened to be trying to break into the wedding photography business.

    We made the wedding programs on our home printer.

    The cake was made by one of my wife's patients who happens to make wedding cakes on the side.

    The invitations we shopped around for on the internet and they turned out great for not a lot of $$$

    My wife got her dress at GoodWill. Yes! Goodwill, for $25...She had to have it altered for $50 but honestly...she spent
    $75 on the whole dress and it looked gorgeous!

    The point is, there are savings to be found. Call in favors and remember that yes, this is a big day. But the idea of the day is not to put you and your new wife in debt in the process.

    The only thing we paid full price on was the chocolate fountain, and if you ask any of the kids at the wedding...it was well worth it! ;-)

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    By Anonymous xiaonanok, at 4:26 AM  

  • YEs, I have been down this road before. It's best to make a proposed budget, and then submit it to whomever has voiced that they will pay for it, and see if they agree to what it is you are proposing. It's tough for parents to say they will pay for x or z whne they don't have actual numbers to go by. It's also a good idea because most parents don't understand all the costs involved and putting actual numbers to them will make it easier for them to commit or un commit. For example, they may think your whole wedding will cost 10k when, in reality, it may likely cost 20k.

    It was easier for me, as I went to the Dominican Republic to get married instead and most things were taken care of for me.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:13 PM  

  • i am from the one of the asian countries, so there parents arrange the whole weeding and also the guests invited are around 500 in number. Also,cloths, money and gifts are given to the relatives after marrige. Its really good that you dont have to worry for the expense but you can contribute as much if you wish so.

    By Anonymous Payday Loans, at 11:23 AM  

  • You are absolutely right. With that said, there are a lot of emotional, intangible components to a wedding, that also have to be dealt with. Remember that this day will remain in your wife's memories FOREVER, for better or worse. Do you really want to be hounded for the next 30 years about the extra $300 that you didn't spend on something??

    My advice is to keep two pillars in the planning process in mind. Sketch out the perfect, fairytale wedding, and put a price tag on that. Then balance that price tag with the available amount of $ that you are going to allocate to the wedding (from all sources). It becomes a lot easier to make decisions on things when they can be expressed as tangible tradeoffs.

    For me, the hardest part about planning the wedding was setting the initial direction (what type of wedding, approximate headcount). Once we agreed on something, put a pricetag to it, and managed the budget, the rest was just simple legwork.

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