When you first get engaged, you'll find yourself almost suffocated with a wave of happiness and excitement. You'll be saying yes to more than just a dress: wedding vendors, a venue, and even special requests from immediate family members, before having the chance to take a deep breath. But the best thing you can do, before making any wedding plans, is to set a budget for your wedding. That way, you'll limit overspending early, and you'll know exactly what you can afford when contacting and deciding on vendors.
So when creating a budget for your wedding, your first question will naturally be: How much should we spend on the wedding?
The most important tip to remember is don't spend out of your means. If you (the bride and groom) are planning the wedding together, have a conversation about how much of a chunk of your savings you want to spend on this one night. Keep in mind future expenses (a possible house, a new car, etc.) before deciding on your wedding budget. If you are getting help from family members, find out how much they are able to give you before you make your budget.
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The other thing you need to do is research the average price of different wedding expenses in your area (venues, flowers, photographers, etc.). Make a spreadsheet detailing these costs and then add them up for a grand total. This will give you a range of how much a traditional wedding in your area will cost. If you start to see it's way out of your budget, you'll be able to identify specific line items you can cut out or you may opt in for a smaller scaled wedding — perhaps even a destination wedding.
*Jen Glantz is a "Professional Bridesmaid" and the founder of Bridesmaid for Hire. She's the author of All My Friends Are Engaged and frequently wears old bridesmaid dresses to the grocery store and on first dates. *