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There are countless expenses you'll encounter when planning your wedding, some of which you're expecting and some that are entirely unplanned. And it's those hidden costs, the ones you never even dreamed of allotting for, that can really break your budget. Luckily, exceeding your initial budget is entirely avoidable with a little careful research and planning.
First, go over what you can afford to spend before you start making wedding plans. Another important step? Consult your parents to determine if they'll be contributing to your big day. Money conversations can be awkward, so each of you should schedule a face-to-face with your parents (he with his, you with yours — no fiancé's allowed!). Try this script from Dana LaRue, author of The Broke-Ass Bride's Wedding Guide: "We're excited to plan this wedding. We would love to start making a budget and we're curious if you plan to contribute financially." If they say no, keep calm and use your own dollars. If they say yes, give a million thanks and make peace with the fact that they just bought a say in the planning process.
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Once you have a final allotment of funds for the big day, watch out for the most common budget busters. According to San Francisco-based wedding planner Alison Hotchkiss, catering, flowers, and rentals are three places where you'll often spend more than you originally thought, especially if your vendors have never worked at your venue. In each of those categories, build in a 10 percent cushion just in case you end up needing to splurge on a few extra meals or more glassware.
And remember: Raw spaces, like barns and lofts, might seem like a steal at first but they usually require you to bring in your own caterers and rentals. "The more people you need to hire, the less you can control costs," says Xochitl Gonzalez, of Aab Creates in New York City. Before you sign, research local vendors' rates and estimate the total price of a wedding at that space.
Don't forget to pick up Brides February/March 2015 issue, available on newsstands now or available for download here, for more great budget advice!