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You've said "yes" and set a wedding date. Now, how to tackle the barrage of wedding planning details? Before you dive in, you'll want to set a budget.
Without taking this important first step, you risk soon drowning in the cost of calla lilies and string quartets. Begin by selecting your wedding theme and venue, which will determine the style and cost of many of your wedding components. For instance, a beach wedding is often a simpler affair, with fewer flowers, flourishes, and red carpet details than a grand ballroom reception. A destination wedding can be costly, but might mean fewer guests. Your relative costs will vary according to the type of wedding.
At this point you'll also want to roughly determine how many guests you will invite, which will greatly affect the cost of food and drink, among other things. One rule of thumb is to expect to pay $100 per guest. You might adore those 27 second cousins, but they could put a sizable dent in your budget. Discuss expectations for budget and guests with your fiancé and parents so that everyone starts out on the same page.
Make a list of wedding elements and decide with your partner where you want to splurge and where you'd be willing to cut back. Include flowers, cake, alcohol service (open bar, beer and wine or just champagne for the toast?), invitations, entertainment, photography, videography, dress and tux, favors, transportation, and any other elements that your vision and venue might require.
For many brides, the wedding gown and the photography are the two elements that should not be compromised on. Your wedding memories will be forever captured in your photography and videography, so you will most likely want a top-notch photography and a video package that will allow you to own and limitlessly reproduce the images of your big day. And you'll want to look and feel your best both on your wedding day and in the photographs you'll keep forever, so consider going for a dream gown. Chances are that your guests are not going to remember the look and flavor of your wedding cake or the color of your flowers, but they will remember how gorgeous you looked, so carefully consider your priorities.
A little web research will tell you that the average wedding costs $27,000. That might be a lot more or a lot less than you're planning to spend, but it does give you a rough idea of what kind of costs you'll be working with. Bear in mind that every wedding is unique and that the costs will be unique, as well. Maybe your beach or front-yard venue will be free, giving you more to spend on food and beverages. Or maybe your favorite band is a bit pricey, in which case you might opt for a chicken dinner instead of filet mignon.
A little more web research will bring up something similar to the following cost breakdown of the typical wedding. While there are no hard and fast rules about what to spend on each component of your wedding, the following chart might be a good place to start. Your wedding day is your individual vision that will reflect the two of you, so definitely change or break the rules and improvise where necessary!
* Cost breakdown from WeddingChannel.com.
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