How much can you spend? How much do you want to spend?
Putting a price on your special day is not easy. Many people feel that it’s a once-in-a-lifetime event, so they make it as big as big can be. Others feel it’s a serious and solemn occasion and opulence has little place in it. Like every other decision I have walked through with you, this is another that needs to match your values as individuals and as a couple.
First there is the question of practical means. Do you have savings set aside for this purpose and if you do are you committed to sticking to the amount that represents? This is a foreshadowing of how effectively you and your mate can budget together. If you’ve been together a long time, this decision will go along the lines of all the other financial decisions you’ve made together unless you consciously decide to detour.
Start by establishing how each of you feels about spending money on a one to two-day event. Do you have a personal threshold for what feels like too much? What is your threshold based on? Is it family traditions? Is your mother/father/sister/brother/other speaking as a committee in your head?
Get clear on your position and hold it as a stake in the ground. This means you want to be heard but you are willing to be moved. Try not to make your position into a tombstone, as in, “over my dead body will we spend that!”
When you come together for the conversation, bring two pieces of information. First, your budget number and the estimates it is based on, and second, your philosophy about a right amount to spend on the day.
This will create more understanding between you and help result in a more harmonious decision about your day.
When planning, keep in mind these traditional elements of a wedding. You don’t have to cost each one out, but it will help you to consider what you are not including and be conscious about it.
Based on the number of people you decided to invite from chapter five, your costs will be driven by the number of guests and what you decide to provide.
To make it simple for purposes of illustration, let’s look at three different levels of weddings:
1. Simple ceremony and champagne toast
2. Elegant ceremony and casual reception with gourmet foods
3. Elegant ceremony and formal dinner reception
Here are some very generic estimates. For high end and celebrity type weddings you can multiply these estimates by 10 to 100!
Location: $1900-$2500 on weekends, $500-$1000 during the week
Rentals: $25.00 per person (chairs, tables, napkins, glassware etc.…)
Catering: $35-$200 per person
Staff: $250- $500
Minister: $200- $1000
Music: $400-$1000 for two to four stringed instruments
The more you spend time on this discussion along with your talks about the guests, the ceremony itself, where it will be, and how you two intend to show up for it, the more the day will be a conscious start of a new chapter in your lives.