Start with a realistic overall budget, which will involve planning meetings with your fiancé. Then list your wedding details from “gotta have it” to unnecessary, says Debi Lilly, owner of A Perfect Event in Chicago. “That way you can put your dollars on the higher priorities, and spend less on what isn’t so important.”
Don’t skip reading anything, and if you have questions, ask immediately, especially about payment terms, says Jennifer Blanco, wedding sales manager at Danford’s Hotel & Marina in Port Jefferson, New York. You want to know exactly when payments or balances are due; if there are any minimum charges, corkage fees for wine, cake-cutting fees—or any other possibly pricey unknowns. If your wedding is a year or more away, be sure to block in guaranteed prices on catering and liquor. If a vendor pressures you to sign, take that as your cue to look elsewhere. Nothing is so urgent that it can’t wait, at least overnight.
Repress the urge to impress other people, says Lilly. Imagine that you’re in a safe little bubble, where you’re unaffected by others’ choices. You’ll be more likely to stick to your budget.
Spend some time investigating venues and other vendors. If you’re the spreadsheet type, go ahead and plug in details—cost, services, extras, terms—for every vendor you consider. Even if you end up going back to that love-at-first-sight place, you know you did your due diligence.
Ask yourself, as you consider every extra detail, whether it will be something you’ll care about in the future. If you’re convinced you’ll be upset to think back on a wedding without a videographer, then by all means hire one. But if you realize that looking back on a two-minute ride in a snazzy car is unlikely to mean much to you, feel free to skip it.
Photo Credit: Bill Blakey Photography