It doesn't quite seem fair: Planning the most romantic event of your life begins with the least romantic detail - establishing the budget. Before you sample a single hors d'oeuvre, figure out just how much you can spend. Traditionally, the bride's family should almost all of the financial responsibility, but today the groom's family and the couple themselves often make significant contributions. The only way to finalize the numbers is to sit down and talk about them. Have frank, diplomatic discussions with both sets of parents about what they can comfortably contribute and, just as important, when. If you'll be paying for a portion of the event yourselves, tal about how much money each of you can put toward the wedding.
Finding the MoneyIf the amount of money you have from your own savings and your parent's contributions is not enough to create the wedding you want, you'll need to save ore. Discuss how much of your paychecks you'll each be able to set aside. At the same time, look for ways to cut back, such as spending less on dining out or travel. Try to avoid making up the difference by using credit cards or taking out a loan; if you borrow to pay for your wedding, you may have to delay other important plans, such as buying a house or having children. Despite your best efforts, your budget may not accommodate a lobster dinner and an eighteen-piece orchestra, so take the time to think about what's most important to you. By compromising in some areas, you can splurge on the things you truly value. And remember, your guests will never know what you decided not to include. What Costs WhatWhatever your wedding style, expect to spend about half of your budget on the reception, which includes the cost of the site, food, beverages, rentals and cake. In addition, allot about 10 percent of your budget to each of four major categories: attire, flowers, music and photography. The final 10 percent goes to miscellaneous costs, such as invitations, favors, gifts, and any unexpected expenses that may arise. Adjust your budget along the way; when you spend more on certain items, make up the difference by spending less somewhere else. If a gourmet dinner is your first priority, for example, you may have to choose simpler floral arrangements. Still looking for ways to save? Your network of family and friends can be a tremendous resource. If a relative is skilled at baking and volunteers to make your wedding cake, you can spend a little more on your gown; if your reception is held at a friend's spacious home that may free up money for a more lavish menu. Ways to Save