Budgeting 101

Your Wedding Budget: Where to Begin

Forget the archaic rule that certain people have to pay for certain things. The bride’s parents need not take out a third mortgage to pay for the wedding, and the groom’s parents are not off the hook with only rehearsal dinner and boutonnières to worry about. Besides, the two of you might even be covering a good chunk of the expenses yourselves. Every couple and situation is different — what doesn’t change however, is that your budget will determine the type of wedding you will have — place, style, everything — so it should be one of the first things you tackle. Keep in mind that informal weddings are usually smaller (and therefore cheaper), and formal weddings tend to be larger (and therefore more expensive). The best way to work it out? Sit down with pencil, paper, and calculator and figure out what you really want and can afford. Here’s a list of the traditional costs for everyone involved — but remember, these “rules” are made to be broken!


Bride and family pay for church or synagogue, sexton, organist, etc. Groom and family pay for marriage license and officiant’s fee.


Bride and family pay for bride’s dress, veil, accessories, and trousseau (read: lingerie and honeymoon clothes). Groom and family pay for groom’s outfit. All attendants pay for their own clothing (including shoes).


Bride and family pay for arrangements for church (including huppah if a Jewish ceremony) and reception, plus bouquets and corsages for bridesmaids and flower girls. Groom and family pay for bride’s bouquet and going-away corsage, boutonnières for men, and corsages for mothers and grandmothers.


Groom and family pay for complete honeymoon.


Bride and family pay for all wedding photos and video.

Pre-wedding Parties

Bride or groom’s family plans and hosts engagement party; if there is more than one, bride’s family hosts the first one. Groom’s family plans and hosts the rehearsal dinner. Bride plans and hosts bridesmaids’ luncheon. Groom hosts and plans bachelors’ dinner. Maid of honor and bridesmaids host shower. Best man and ushers host bachelor party. Friends may throw additional engagement parties or showers.


Bride and family pay for all professional services, including food, drink, decorations, and music.


Bride and/or her family pay for groom’s ring. Groom and/or his family pay for both of the bride’s rings.


Bride and family pay for invitations, announcements, and wedding programs.


Bride and family pay for transportation of bridal party to and from ceremony and reception.

That said, here are alternative ways to budget your big day.

Ways to Save

It’s easy to sink $10,000 into a wedding. It’s an art to do it for $2,000. Unless you’re a die-hard traditionalist, you can save hundreds by cutting the cost of showy formalities like bridesmaid dresses (your friends will thank you) and even corsages. A backyard reception can be just as fun — and more intimate — than one in a restaurant or banquet hall, where the space will cost you.

You might want to try balancing the kind of wedding you envision with the kind of honeymoon you want (i.e., a backyard wedding may equal a lavish honeymoon; a weekend in a bed-and-breakfast will make a larger wedding possible). And if you’re saving up for a house, the honeymoon can always wait a year.

To avoid postmarital bankruptcy, check out the following list of suggestions for keeping costs down. Then decide what’s crucial, what’s tempting, and what’s extraneous. Make phone calls and get estimates.

Invitations: Find a good printer. The invitation is the first thing guests see that’s connected to your wedding, so they should look nice, but this isn’t the place to go overboard. People will remember the event, not the invitation.

Reception venue: Saturday night is the most sought-after time. If you can swing a Friday night, Saturday morning/afternoon, or Sunday reception, you’ll not only save money, you may have more choice of dates.

Transportation: A good place to save. Leased Bentleys and horse-drawn carriages are kind of corny, anyway (unless you’re a debutante or Cinderella, of course). Consider finding a friend with a nice car and hitching a ride.

Flowers: If there’s time, have a trusted friend get them at the local green-market on wedding morning and set them up at the ceremony/reception sites.

Caterer: Along with the menu (buffet may cost less than seated), discuss the cost of service (and tipping), liquor, the wedding cake, overtime, and insurance when you meet with prospective vendors. Consider too that a brunch, luncheon, or hors d’oeuvres reception costs less than a dinner.

Music: DJs tend to be less expensive than live bands.

Photographer and/or videographer: Don’t skimp on photographs, or you’ll regret it forever. Your wedding video is another important keepsake you won’t want to pass up — taping the ceremony only will save you some cash.

article by TheKnot.com

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