The wedding budget: Most wedding planners would say that it's the most important thing to have when planning your wedding (aside from the groom of course!), but it can certainly be one of the most anxiety inducing. While you may know the basics to sticking within your budget — not overdoing it with over-the-top florals or spending 40 percent of your total budget on a dress, for example — there are some less obvious ways that you may be racking up costs without even realizing it. Suffering severe sticker shock is no way to end the best day of your life, so we turned to wedding planner Claudia Hoste, owner of Hoste Events, to advise on five things you need to be aware of to keep your budget in check.
1. Buying things before you have a budget and a plan
"You have to have a budget tracker," says Hoste. "There is no way you can keep track of things in your head. Don't buy anything for the wedding until you make your budget guidelines. It's so easy to get caught up in the excitement of starting to buy things, that money can get spent on little fun details (Pinterest inspiration anyone?!) that in the end will not mean as much as you originally thought. You could end up spending way more on something that turns out to be not important and then have to skimp on things that are."
2. Getting carried away with the guest list
Of course you want to invite everyone to celebrate this major life moment, but not being careful with the guest list is the easiest way to blow up your budget. "Keep in mind that every guest touches every part of the budget. In addition to the cost of food and beverages for each additional guest, you'll also have to factor in costs of rentals, transportation, and favors," explains Hoste. "If you add more than a table's worth of guests, you'll need to add more linens and centerpieces as well."
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3. Not being clear on what the site fee includes
"Every venue is different. Some might require you to rent everything from the napkins to the tables to the lights and bathrooms, which adds up very quickly," says Hoste. "Make sure you call a rental company and get quotes for anything that is not included with the site so that you'll know what the total cost is for that venue will be before you book. What seems like a good deal in the beginning can in the end make you go over budget."
4. Not sticking to your timeline
"Usually you contract vendors for a specific number of hours. If you don't stick to your timeline, you run the risk of things running late," says Hoste. "This means that you'll end up incurring expensive overtime fees that were not budgeted."
5. Opting for a consumption bar instead of a per head package
It can be tempting to opt for a pay-per-drink bar because you think some guests won't drink that much, but that usually ends up being a risky choice. "Generally people will drink more at weddings that they would do normally in other social situations," says Hoste. "Plus they will want to raise multiple glasses to celebrate the big day!"