Monday, August 17, 2015

Wedding Money Monday: Budget Bandages

Everybody has been there - you're signing contracts left and right, with a fairly good idea of what you're going to end up spending. Rounding up or down to the nearest zero as you go along. And, then, at some point, you sit down and add it all up...and realized that you are screwed, budget-wise. You've gone over your budget, maybe by a little, maybe by a lot, but either way, the overage is not an option. Here are five tips and tweaks for getting the bleeding under control.

Step 1: Decide how much much money you need to cut. $500? $1,000? $2,000? Pick your price.

Step 2:  Look at all of your contracts again,  note the deadlines. With very few exceptions, you don't normally have to pay any vendor their full balance when you sign a contract. There are a lot of final decisions to be made before you walk down the aisle, which could can affect how much you end up paying. When do you have to give them final guest counts, final hours, and confirm final services? You have time, you have options, which means you have flexibility.

Step 3: Cut your guest list.  Your catering takes up half your budget, so that's your next step.  If you haven't sent your invites out, cut a few people off your guest list now. Harsh, but effective. Every guest is 2-3 appetizers, 2-3 drinks, an entree, and a piece of cake. 10 guests is a table and a centerpiece. Two tables is a catering server. Deciding how to cut is a different animal, but alway consult whoever might be subjected to hurt feelings before you do it. If you want to cut your Mom's best friend from college, talk to Mom first.  Aim small before you go big, and always go in twos. Who are the six people you can cut? Are there four more after that? Reminder: This only works if you haven't sent out invites, yet. Have not. Move on to step 4 if that's not an option.

Step 4: Cut the Catering and Bar. Your catering takes up half your budget, so start there. Caveat: If you have a food and beverage minimum - how much you have to spend on catering in order to have catering - consult your venue manager before you make any decisions. Don't feel ashamed, or cheap, or poor - you are not the first person they have run into that had to back away from their pocket book. Ask what's possible. Can you serve two appetizers instead of three, or one instead of two, and still meet your minimum? If you're offering a meat, chicken and fish entree, are there less expensive versions of those? What happens if you serve a signature cocktail, or just beer and wine, instead of a full bar? Again, come to your catering manager with the specific amount you want to cut, and see what they can do. Oh, and cake? Keep it simple, make it simpler. One flavor, one filling, less decoration.

Step 4: Be honest about your rental list. What can you downgrade? Chiavari chairs are at least 3-4 times more expensive than wood lawn chairs. Black and brown wood lawn chairs are twice as expensive as white ones. Small dance floors look like a bigger party. That's a few hundred dollars right there. Salad forks are more expensive than dinner forks, so use them for dessert. Most of the alcohol you're serving can go into standard glasses. One heat lamp per two tables will do. Go over your menu and your bar list with your caterer first, and then with your rental company and, again, ask them where you can cut and be okay.

Step 5: Flowers and Decorations: Ask your florist how you can shave $10-15 off of your centerpiece and still get the same look. Is it changing the main flower, pulling out or adding in filler? Make the centerpiece smaller? Ask.

Honestly? Everyone has a wedding budget. Don't be afraid to protect yours.

For more ideas on how to create a fantastic wedding in Los Angeles, go to my website, and head to the upper right corner to grab my tip sheet, "The Ten Things You Need to Know About Your Wedding," which will also sign you up to receive my wedding advice newsletter. If you have any questions, just let me know what you need.

See you at the end of the aisle,

Liz Coopersmith
Silver Charm Events

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