Every bride-to-be has a vision of the “perfect” wedding day. From an intimate elopement to a grand affair – no two weddings are the same. Regardless of the size and vision a couple has for their wedding, determining a budget is a must. We sat down with Charleston event design expert Haley Horsfall of WED to get the scoop on how to make a bride’s Big Day dreams a reality and share her top tips on budgeting when planning a wedding in Charleston.
1. Know Your Number
Determine and agree on a budget in the beginning. Discuss the budget with your fiancé, your families and those who are contributing to the event. Be sure to include your event planner and those you have placed in charge of helping to select vendors and design elements for the day. Budgets can always be adjusted down the road as needed, or as a couple decides to splurge on something they really love, but it’s wise to have a budget in place to help guide decisions and for everyone to be on the same page. This way, couples can track where their money is being spent and where they may have room to make adjustments for items they really want. This will save them from the heartache and stress of spending too much too soon, and realizing they do not have enough leftover in the budget for key elements that could have a big impact on their event.
2. Timing is Everything
It’s important to be mindful of dates and times when considering your budget. There is absolutely nothing wrong with choosing a popular wedding date, as they are popular for a reason – historically great weather, mild temperatures, and during times of the year that tend to be convenient for guests to travel. As a couple selects a date and time, they should be sure to take into account several factors. How long do they have to plan until the wedding? Is the date popular among other couples? The more quickly approaching and / or the more popular the date, the more likely it is for vendors and venues to be booked. So, it is important to be mindful that couples may not get their first choice of venue or vendor, and that remaining options may not necessarily be the most affordable. If a couple is looking to stretch their budget, consider selecting alternative dates. It is important to note that some venues offer off-season or weekday discounts.
Selecting the time of day for the event is an important consideration as well. A daytime brunch wedding with light bites and mimosas may turn out to be more affordable rather than an evening wedding where guests would expect to be served dinner with heavier food and beverage options.
3. Count on Your Guests Coming
Invite guests with the expectation that they will say “yes” to attending a Charleston wedding and budget on the higher end of the expected guest count. When it comes to budgeting, it is much easier to pocket expenses that were not incurred instead of going over the budget when a guest list suddenly doubles because everyone is able to attend. Charleston is voted the “#1 City in the United States” by the readers of Condé Nast Traveler and Travel + Leisure, making it a wildly popular destination for weddings and weekend getaways. Combine the two, and couples have eager guests who cannot wait to plan a vacation and celebrate the marriage! So, do not invite 300 if in reality your budget allows for 125. Remember, “if you build it, they will come.”
4. Worst Case Scenario
Hope for the best, but plan and budget for the worst. Build weather contingency plans and costs into the budget from the beginning. The best case scenario, you won’t need them in the end and that unspent budget stays in your pocket! If in the worst case you do need them, it is not a surprise expense or something that unexpectedly breaks the bank.
5. Do Your Homework
In the early stages of planning, collect quotes from your top rated vendors and compare notes. Seek advice from those you trust and ask friends and others who have planned a wedding in a similar location and style for their budgeting advice. Ask prospective vendors for their tips and information that may be helpful to understand and plan an overall budget. Study and understand the budget in it’s entirety before booking a venue and selecting vendors in order to avoid the risk of placing all of your eggs in one basket.
6. Plan With A Planner
Budget for a professional event planner who can do the homework for you. While specific vendors are able to provide their individual pricing, an event planner can help a couple understand their budget in it’s entirety and plan where to allocate funds in order to achieve the best overall event. Rather than a couple swimming in an endless sea of options, an event planner can save them time and money by narrowing down the list to proven, quality vendors that fit within their budget. By understanding the priorities and budget, an event planner will recommend areas to limit costs without sacrificing the overall quality or look of the event and highlight where allocating certain funds will leave a lasting, memorable impact on the couple and their guests. While planners do not always come with “vendor discounts” in tow, they can help couples take their budget further.
7. Budget Breakdown
When it comes to an “average breakdown” for budgeting for a wedding, we at WED do not rely on a percentage format (ie: 10% on invitations, 20% on flowers, etc.). Weddings are extremely personalized. Using any type of “pie chart formulas” puts our brides in a box that may not necessarily be a fit for them. We find that every couple’s priorities are vastly different and that it is best to create a custom budget estimate for each one. It is important as planners that we get to know our couples and learn about their top priorities for their wedding. Some couples are all about pretty paper while others want to save in that area, in order for it to be applied elsewhere. Some couples want just a touch of minimal florals while others want lush, floral installs, hanging from the chandeliers. We combine their feedback with our knowledge of expected costs, and present them with a budget estimate to help guide them in the vendor selection process.
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