Do you really know what a wedding costs?

If you have never planned a wedding, it can be very easy to underestimate what a wedding will cost.  The photos in blogs and on Pinterest don't include the price tag.

Check out the website Cost of Wedding.  Enter your zipcode and you can see averages for your area.  Or on the Wedding Cost Estimator to enter specific information about your wedding details for a more exact estimate.  Every bride should look at this before she begins planning.   Knowing the average or the range that items costs can prevent disappointment and make couples smarter about their spending decisions.

I did an estimate for an average bride.  Here is the breakdown.

Your Wedding Cost Estimate for Williamson County, TN
Your Estimated Cost: $27,613
Guests: 150
Estimated Cost Per Guest: $184

Averages In Williamson TN (County)
Cost: $26,531 to $44,218
Guests: 148 to 168

  Your Estimated Cost
Tuxedo/suit/other Rent/purchase $216
Wedding Dress/es $1,284
Attire & Accessories Total: $1,500 - 5.4% of Total
Your Estimated Cost
Hair Service $73
Makeup Service $58
Beauty & Spa Total: $131 - 0.5% of Total

Your Estimated Cost
DJ $768
Entertainment Total: $768 - 2.8% of Total

Your Estimated Cost
Boutonnieres, Corsages $140
Bridal Bouquet $151
Bridesmaid Bouquets $184
Event Decorations $492
Event Flower Arrangements $533
Event Table Centerpieces $366
Flowers & Decorations Total: $1,866 - 6.8% of Total

Your Estimated Cost
Ceremony Programs $112
Guest Book $63
Invitations & Reply Cards $261
Reception Menus $117
Table Name and Escort/place Cards $80
Invitations Total: $633 - 2.3% of Total

Your Estimated Cost
Digital or Photo cd/dvd $356
Wedding Photographer $1,823
Wedding Videographer $1,153
Photography & Video Total: $3,332 - 12.1% of Total

Your Estimated Cost
Full Service $3,845
Planner/Consultant Total: $3,845 - 13.9% of Total

Your Estimated Cost
Ceremony Officiator $214
Event Accessories $360
Event Bar Service $2,584
Event Food Service $5,004
Event Location $3,689
Event Rentals $1,793
Hotel Room for After Reception $327
Limo Rental $526
Rehearsal Dinner $598
Wedding Cake/dessert $443
Venue, Catering & Rentals Total: $15,538 - 56.3% of Total

Infographic: Where does the wedding money go?

Creating a wedding budget and sticking to it is one of the most important things to do early in the wedding planning process.  Setting an overall budget and then allocating amounts toward each vendor category will help you be in control of your expenses.  Knowing how much you can spend in each category also helps you choose vendors that are in your price point.

Here is what a typical wedding breakdown looks like.  This budget doesn't include an amount for miscellaneous expenses, which will occur.  

For each bride, the amount that they budget for each category will depend upon their preferences and what is most important to them.   You may choose to save in one area and splurge in another.

Negotiating with Vendors

If you search the internet for tips to help you negotiate with vendors, you will find lots of articles and advice.  Some of it is good, some OK and some ridiculous.  

This article from The Knot suggests that you "Try your hand negotiating at a flea market to see what talking style works for you."  Sorry, but wedding professionals are not flea market vendors; we don't haggle. 

Telling a vendor what another competitor charges isn't a great tactic.  Here's why....What I charge for wedding planning isn't the same as what another planner charges.  They offer different options and services.  You aren't comparing apples to apples.  You may pay less only to find out that the other vendor had better service or better tasting food...something that is hard to put a price on. 

The advice to be indifferent and prepared to walk away, that works at flea markets not for wedding professionals.  You might miss booking your dream photographer who only takes one wedding that date.  Would you negotiate with the plumber coming to fix your broken pipes that are spilling water across your floors? 

Don't lie to service vendors and call your wedding a "big family reunion."  The tools and supplies that are customarily included at a wedding wouldn't even be packed if you call it a party.  You could be missing out on services that would have been included - wasting you money in the long run. 

Good Negotiating Tips 

It is completely acceptable to tell a vendor your budget, in fact we prefer to know your budget up front.  If a quote comes in higher than you can afford, talk to the vendor.  We can usually come up with really creative ways to meet your budget.  Flowers too high? Ask the florist to suggest cheaper alternatives, such as flowers that are in season or cheaper per stem for the centerpieces and save the best for the brides bouquet.  

If you can be flexible with your date, such as an off-season or a Friday or Monday, you can get great discounts on venues.  Look for ways to simplify which will save you money.  Do you need both programs and fans?  That is easily $200+ out of your budget.   

Be reasonable about your budget and what you can accomplish with it.

Happy Holidays...And The After Christmas Sale

Merry Christmas to all brides, recently married, just engaged or celebrating 50 years of happiness.  The holiday season is a great time filled with friends, family, happiness and goodwill.

For many brides planning their wedding, this is also a GREAT time to grab some bargains.  Almost every retailer has an after Christmas sale to mark-down holiday merchandise.  So stock up on ribbon, candles, electric candles, white lights, and so much more.  In addition to decor, some brides have confessed that they purchased cases of wine glasses, dishes, linens and so much more.  These are things they could not have afforded if not for this sale.

Beyond the traditional red and green, most items can be found in white, silver or gold or with gold or silver trim.  These are colors that can be easily incorporated into all weddings.  Some stores also offer decorations in pinks, blues, purples, etc - colors that can work for a lot of weddings.  Think large vases filled with pink or purple ornaments.

For the DIY bride, many craft supplies go on sale during this time as well.

Also think outside the box.  All those packaged gift sets of lotion, perfume and toiletries, can be repacked into nice guest baskets for the bathrooms.

If your wedding isn't too far after Christmas, all those chocolates and truffles can make nice favors or be used in hotel welcome bags for guests.  Also keep in mind the rehearsal dinner and other parties.

Happy Shopping