I am constantly amazed (and saddened) by the brides-to-be who come into my shop who has no control over their own wedding! Let's get one thing straight. It is the bride and groom who are getting married, and they will want to remember this day for the rest of their lives, and who should be able to make all the decisions on their own. Please, for the sake of family harmony, if someone else besides the bride and the groom is paying for the wedding, that does not entitle that person to be in charge of the wedding!
Parents of the bride, parents of the groom, friends, relatives, anyone who might be contributing to the wedding costs, give the money out of love, caring and a willingness to help....don't give it with strings attached. The bride and groom, but especially the bride, will be under enough stress without having to worry about getting your approval or permission in every matter. Let's face it, money is a stressful subject...money problems end more marriages than any other reason...why would you want to start your new marriage off with arguments about money?
wedding planner for nothing else, I STRONGLY recommend at least using a good wedding planner for the budget meeting. He or she has knowledge and experiences that you don't and will think of things you haven't. The
budget process can be painful, but if done properly, can prevent a ton of pain later on.
How do you create a budget? The first step is that everyone who is planning on contributing to the cost of the wedding has to etermine how much they are willing to contribute, and when they can contribute it. For a budget to be successful it needs accurate information. “Maybe $2000 sometime before the wedding” while a nice gesture, does not cut it for planning purposes. “I can contribute $5,000 and can write a check by the 12th of next month (or better yet today)” is what we want to hear. We strongly recommend the bride and groom open a separate wedding checking account and collect and deposit the wedding money as quickly as possible so it is on hand when needed.
After you determine how much you have available to spend, make a list of everything you want and assign costs based on importance. This is where the people contributing the money should make their opinions known. Everyone should try to come to agreement on what to buy and how much to spend on each item, but remember, the bride and groom (really the bride) have the final say.
Alright, now you know how much money you have and you know what you want to spend. If you are like 99.99999% of the couples out there, there is a big discrepancy between how much you have to spend and how much you want to spend! And 99.99999% of the time the discrepancy is not that you have more than you need! This is where the real budgeting process starts. You have to decide how to come up with more
money, or what not to buy or not to pay so much for. Usually it is a combination of more money and less spending. You are absolutely unable to start the wedding process until your budget is balanced. If that takes one
hour, one day, one week, or one month, so be it.
Now why have we spent so much time talking about the budget? Because this is where the people contributing the money get to have their say. The deal is, once the budget is agreed upon, you give up the right to make any comments, decisions or do any complaining about how the money is spent. You are not in control. It is no longer your money! Hard to hear...you bet it is. Harder to do...absolutely! But if you want to avoid arguments, resentment and tears...give up any thoughts of control. The one right you do reserve though is the right to say “NO” if the bride and groom ask you for more money. Along with the power to make the decisions comes the
responsibility for those decisions and staying on budget.
•Without a wedding planner a couple will almost always go over budget and have no idea how it happened.
•With a wedding planner (if the couple is willing to listen to the consultant) the wedding will almost always come within budget and sometimes under budget. That alone makes the cost of a consultant a savings instead of an
The other huge value of a wedding planner is they can act as a go-between with the bride and groom, and the overzealous parents or loved ones contributing the money. A ton of friction can be avoided if the couple has
someone to turn to and vent and the people footing the bill will have someone they can turn to, also someone whom they know will keep the couple on track.
So, what happens if this advice wasn't followed and you are in the middle of the process and there is a control conflict going on. Best advice I can give...sit everyone down and have a heart to heart. If you don't nip it in the
bud, it will only get worse. Grooms, if it is your mom causing the issues, time to stand up for your bride and tell mom no. Brides, if you dad or mom is causing the problems, you need to work it out with them.
I'm going to close with a true story. Several months ago an entire bridal party came into my shop to buy dresses, rent tuxedos, buy flowers, invitations, the whole nine yards. Normally in a situation like this I am happy, not only to make a nice sale, but because so many people want to help out.
Unfortunately, this was not one of those good situations. The future mother-in-law began running
the show. She told the bride which dress she was going to buy for her (and from the look in the bride's eyes, not even close to her favorite), she told the three bridesmaids which dresses they were going to choose (but they could pay for them on their own), despite the fact they liked a different dress. She then told the groom which tuxedo he was going to wear. She finished up by telling the bride that she was going to make the invitations because spending
more than $100 was nuts considering it’s only paper. Oh, yes she also picked the flowers...the same periwinkle blue as the dresses chosen for the bridesmaids.
never felt worse in my professional life. I stopped halfway through the transaction and looked the bride in the eyes. “We have some time, would you like to think about everything before we order?” I asked her quietly, perfectly
willing to lose a sale.
“No, she is all set and better be happy about it. We are putting up a lot of money for this wedding to make
it special for them,” boldly stated mom in law as she handed me her charge. “Now ring it up so we can get going...I need to decide the menu for the reception.” I looked at the groom thinking, “where is your spine” but he wouldn't look at me. “No I'm all set,” said the bride with tears.
I rang up the sale, thinking to myself that I give it only a 50/50 shot this wedding will even happen.
Moral of the story....it is the bride's day, give her the day, give her your love, give her your support, even give
her your advice...but remember who wedding it really is!