After an unplanned hiatus, I’m back!
Things with work have been rather busy this month, which has caused me to want to stow away my laptop at night. The idea of staring at a screen for more hours hasn’t been all too appealing (besides the TV, obvs). But I have certainly missed writing. So I apologize to my pupils, but it’s time to get back to it. Like to hear it? Here it goes.
Holy shit! You’re engaged! You are overwhelmed but SO excited. And you definitely can’t stop staring at that blinding light on your left hand. (Let’s be real. I still stare at my ring when nobody's looking, and I have been married for nearly eleven months. #diamonds)
This is such a crazy time, and even though it’s incredible, it can be very daunting. Before we go any further, check out my post on my girl AJ’s blog, which is my overarching advice for the newly engaged. I really mean every word I said there, and I hope it will help all you new fiancées out there.
In my humble opinion, there are three things that you have to tackle early on. The first two are super fun. But once you get through those two hurdles, you can dive into the good stuff.
Depending on how long of an engagement you want and how particular you are about the season, don’t slack on tackling the below three pillars early on (and do them in this order):
- Guest List
Today, let’s talk dolla dolla bills. I know… it’s the worst. It’s the one of the most daunting parts of the whole process, and of course it’s step one. But it’s so important to figure out before making any other big decisions.
For most of us, we do not have the luxury of an open-ended influx of dough, so it’s vital that you understand who is contributing what and how to budget from there. If you are anticipating help from your families, get a solid idea of what that means. There is no right or wrong way, but figuring it out is what’s important.
- Are your parents giving you a set budget? Or are they comfortable taking things as they come and helping you make decisions? Is that something you want?
- Is your fiance’s family contributing to the mix? Is it in the traditional sense of FLOP (flowers, liquor, orchestra, photographer)? (Judging by the usage of “orchestra,” you can see that this idea is pretty dated.) Are they taking care of the rehearsal dinner?
- Are you and your fiancee throwing in some chips? Are you taking care of the whole thing? Part of it? Just your rings and the honeymoon?
- Are you a part of Cash Money Millionaires? Great. I’ll be your assistant. (As long as we can ward off Young Thug.)
Whether you are part of bullet number one, two, three or four, everything is awesome. The man of your dreams has asked you to stay by his side for the rest of your lives! This is a huge deal, and it’s the most important part of all of this. So tattoo that on your brain and never lose sight of it.
*Steps off of soapbox*
So you’ve had some insanely uncomfortable conversations, but now you have gotten to the bottom of where the money is coming from and what you are working with. From there, you have to create a budget for each area of spend. Even with unlimited funds, it’s important to have a gut-check. Does $13,000 sound like too much for a cake? Probably. This doesn’t mean you have to have a line on the budget for every little thing. But it’s good to have a framework of the big categories and a cheat sheet to reference to see just how ridiculous your little “reality” bubble has become. (Middle finger to Pinterest.)
Tweak the budget calculator to what matters most for you and your fi. I am a researcher, so I gathered a lot of ideas from a lot of places when planning my wedding. The golden standard in event planning is Mindy Weiss, and I took her budget calculator and molded it into what was right for John and I. (You can also search “wedding budget calculator” on Pinterest and come up with a huge pile of opinions.)
Whatever budget allocations you decide on, leave a cushion. Make sure it’s a really comfy cushion that you’ll want to sit on a lot… because you will. Your over-zealous engaged heart will always want the best of the best and you will likely overspend. (If you have more self-control than me and this is not the case, then please send me an email and coach me on pumping the breaks.)
With this budget comes stack-ranking your priorities. You have to decide where you will give and where you will take. I thought I would spend under the allocated amount for my wedding dress. HA! I’m so stupid. I quickly realized (as the hostess at Vera Wang handed me a glass of bubbles) that what I wear is a big part of me, and I didn’t want to settle in that area. So I cut in different places.
I couldn’t think of a guest favor that I was passionate about, so I skipped it and reallocated it to my dress. I’m not a sweets person, so I bought inexpensive but delicious sheet cakes from Sweet Mandy B’s and John and I cut into a simple two-tier confection for tradition’s sake.
Having a beautiful setting and super good food were important to us, so we spent a big portion of our budget on the reception venue. This included the food, drink, ceremony site, chairs, linens, place settings, etc., so I felt ok about that chunk being fixed on the digs. (Confession: I did have a small breakdown when I saw what percentage our venue took up, but John reassured me that we had plenty of other places to cut from, and not to jump.)
Moral: do what is best for you and decide where you will splurge and where you will save.
Money is a tough subject. It’s not easy. But it’s part of the gig. So figure it out, don’t forget about it and plan accordingly.
Now go have that super awkward conversation with your loved ones about their money!
All photos by the amazing girls over at Vibe Tribe Creative. Check em!