If you're planning your own wedding, you have to be super organized about the money side of it. You'll have a lot of contractual deadlines for deposits, and then final head counts and balance payments due to all of your vendors. You're responsible for keeping track of those numbers and paying the bills when due — and it can be overwhelming.
To start, keep a budget spreadsheet with the following columns:
Notes on how the balance must be paid (cash, credit, etc.) and to whom.*
Even the best budget spreadsheet won't calculate itself if you don't stay on top of it, and it won't remind you to mail the check on time unless you put a reminder in your calendar to poke you. Some vendors require full payment as far as 30 days ahead of your wedding date, while some require full payment a week ahead or payment on the big day.
Put your payment reminders on your calendar two weeks before they are due and get in touch with vendors to confirm you're making the payments. The most important thing to remember: You must pay on time!
You'll be paying for things in four major chunks: First, a big deposit when you lock in your wedding venue. Second, deposits to the different vendors you choose to work your wedding (DJ, cake, lighting, photography and more). Third, you'll have final balances for all vendors due two weeks to a month prior to your wedding date. Finally, there will be some people who need to be paid on the day of the event (not just the gratuities).
Break it up for yourself and know what's due when. If your parents are contributing, give them a heads up about upcoming deadlines too. Sometimes people need to move money or clear a credit card to make a payment.
The bottom line: Get organized ASAP.
Owner of Weddings in Vieques, a destination-wedding planning company off the coast of Puerto Rico, Sandy Malone has helped countless couples plan their big day since 2007.