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OK, so picking your wedding budget isn't the most glamorous part of planning. But you need to nail down your number before you can get to the good stuff. Here's how to make the process practically painless.
Have the money talk
Thirty-six percent of couples now foot the whole wedding bill themselves. That means the majority ask for some help—most likely from mom and dad. Ease the awkwardness by sitting down with each set of parents individually—you with yours, he with his—and asking what they can contribute. They may give you a figure, or they may opt to cover a certain part of the celebration (the catering, the dress, etc.).
Add it up
Your parents' contribution plus yours equals your total budget. Note: Do not include your credit card limits in the total. You don't want to start married life in debt.
Spend it wisely
Now that you have a figure, start thinking about your priorities. What do you want most out of your wedding? A jam-packed dance floor? Crazy-good food? Allot the bulk of your budget there, and find ways to save in other areas.
Consider every cost
"Most couples go over budget by at least thirty percent because they didn't account for everything up front," says wedding planner Annie Lee. Be sure to include the following hidden costs on your spreadsheet: dress alterations, tips, weather backup plans (tents, heaters), taxes, vendor meals, and even postage!