Budgeting 101: Gathering Estimates
by Shilora Jean
In our previous posts we talked about the guest list and basic wedding expenses. Today we continue with a discussion on gathering estimates.
Once you have a guest list (we can’t stress this enough), you’re ready to gather estimates so you can calculate your estimated wedding costs.
Remember: your biggest wedding expenses are multipliers of your guest count: food and alcoholic beverages. So it only stands to reason that if you’re serving food and drinks, the best way to control your budget is to control your guest list.
Here are the basic things you need to know in order to get started:
• Date (have a couple possible dates in case the venue is already booked)
• Estimated guest count
Let’s take a look at these three elements and how they play into your budget.
• Venue rentals in slow months (November, December, January and February) are often the least expensive.
• Fridays and Sundays are commonly less expensive than Saturday.
• Expect to pay the highest price for Saturday evening weddings as that day and time is the most sought-after.
• If you’re open to a Thursday event, the savings are even better and you’ll most likely have pick of the litter when it comes to choosing your vendors.
Exception: Holidays, Valentine’s Day, and unique dates (11/11/11, etc) will not be less expensive. Ergo, a wedding on Labor Day (always a Monday) will often be at full rate since it’s a holiday.
Because morning or Noon events don’t last as long as late afternoon or evening events, they sometimes cost less. Also, a late morning or Noon ceremony allows you to have a brunch or luncheon reception, which in turn reduces food costs. Since many people don’t expect to be drinking alcohol at mid-day it can also help control (or eliminate) bar costs. Plus, it’s sometimes possible to book your preferred vendor earlier in the day even if they’re booked for the evening.
ESTIMATED GUEST COUNT
Venues come in varying sizes. Knowing the guest count helps you make that initial first cut on venues. For those planning smaller weddings, unique spaces such as stately homes, art galleries, historic buildings, etc are a possibility, while those planning large events should consider ballrooms, banquet halls, etc that can handle the demands of large crowds, i.e., parking, bathrooms, foot traffic, etc.
Vendors will ask your estimated guest count as part of their planning process. Be ready with an estimate and listen to any advice they may offer. They know the ins-and-outs of their services that are tied to the guest count.
COMPARE AND CONTRAST
Most of all, be sure to read all documents closely and compare what each venue or vendor offers. Do your best to make the comparison clear and concise: apples-to-apples, as they say.
Note: Creative work can have varied cost levels relative to ability/skills/experience as well as your choices. We’ll blog more on that later.
If the numbers are coming in way above your budget, take a good hard look at the guest list, food expense, and bar expense since nine times out of ten, they are the highest-ticket items. If you need to make cuts, do it in these areas. Your other expenses won’t come anywhere close, so don’t kid yourself that you’ll find big savings later down the road.
Time is of the essence, especially with venues, which book fast and well in advance. Focus on getting your ceremony and reception venue(s) booked first. Then move on to catering (if needed), rentals (if needed), photographer, entertainment (music/DJ), flowers, cake, decor, etc.
Weddings can be overwhelming but it’s going to be great! We’re here for you™.
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