Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Wedding Budget Theory

Sounds like advanced math course at MIT to me!

Before I got engaged, I was already a little (totally) tuned in to wedding-planning-land. I "let" myself look at wedding websites, and I let myself cruise the wedding mags at B&N (but I never bought!! I swear). In all my browsing and pre-engagement planning I started to pick up on was the different ways in which couples designed their budgets. After getting engaged and conducting further research, I've come to conclusion that there are two main theories of wedding budgeting.

1) The Guest List theory.

This theory, the so-called guest list theory, is known as such because it involves basing your budget on your guest list...oh wait, was that totally obvious because of the name? The idea is that if you know you MUST have certain people at your wedding, you figure out what those numbers add up to and decide what you can do based on that number. In other words, if there is not way you're getting away without inviting the 17 cousins on your mom's side AND all their kids, you might use this.

We tried this at first. I think I only made it two weeks after our engagement before I had Mr. Fairfax sitting in front of an Excel spreadsheet, with me saying, "ok if you could invite everyone you ever wanted at your wedding, who would it be?" We knew we had a pretty limited budget, so we thought if we figured out who we absolutely had to have, the guest count + the budget could dictate the wedding we'd have. I think this is how weddings like the picnic in the park or dessert buffet weddings happen (Mmm, dessert. BUFFET!). If you only have to have 15 people and you've got ten grand, awesome--ten course tasting menus and a live bands all around! If you must have a 150 and have ten grand, you might figure out the best way to throw a party that size with what you've got.

This theory worked for us for about 10 minutes. That's how long it to me to remember I don't actually like huge parties, I'm more the intimate cocktail party type. In the time it took Mr. Fairfax to fetch me a paper bag to breath into (yes the thought of a huge wedding was that scary!), we had moved onto budget theory two.

2) The "Pick the Elements Most Important to You and Spend Your Money on That" Theory.
Pretty sure the names says it all there. We talked about what we really enjoyed at other weddings, what our already married friends and family members had said, "yes, we are glad we did that" about their own weddings, and what we like in general. We came up with three items:
  • Food: We are definitely foodies. Having delicious food that we like is important to us.
  • Booze: We are definitely boozie...I mean, appreciative of fine wine and delicious drinks! We want to be able to serve a nice wine, preferably one of our fave varietals, and a nice beer at our reception. We're thinking we might even go here and make our own!
  • Photography: We were so impressed with the photographs from the Big Sister's wedding we knew we wanted a great photographer. What sealed the deal further on this was having a married friend express her regret at letting "Uncle Bob," family photographer extraordinaire, photograph her wedding. She ended up without any pictures of the grooms family...whoops.
Since we knew we would have limited amount to spend on our wedding, we knew focusing our budget in this manner would require having a smaller party. But that's what we were most comfortable with anyway so this worked for us.

It's been helpful in making other decisions along the way because we felt we had some areas, like food, were we felt we could splurge a bit. It's helped us keep our spending in check and just say no with other elements of the wedding because we've already identified our priorities.

Did you have a budget theory? How did you design your budget?



Blogger AmyJean {Relentless BrideĀ®} said...

I think i started with the design your budget theory until i realized how much it cost per guest...and with a huge family...it quickly become a guest list theory ... and based upon the guest list theory, I've ventured away from the in house catering and have found a venue that lets me BYO caterer and alcohol, so that way i can have the guest list as well as the wedding :)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008 7:16:00 PM  
Blogger Ten Thousand Only said...

all of my theories at this point are fairy dust. i'm at the point where i'm finally getting down to crunching REAL numbers...and i don't know how more prioritizing and cutting will actually get me where i want to be.

um. can i get some cheese for my wiiiiiine?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008 7:14:00 PM  

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