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Getting Married? Control How much You Spend on your Wedding
Your boyfriend has just popped the big question! You are indeed very excited. YOU ARE GETTING MARRIED! Arranging a wedding is a huge task so you have to plan for this event.

With sufficient time, you can shop around, compare prices and find the best bargains. The first thing you must do is decide on the total amount of money you both intend to allocate on your wedding. You must set a limit. Planning a wedding can be quite a challenge especially if you are on a small or tight budget. 

Couples today spend huge amounts of money in order to achieve their dream wedding. An extravagant wedding does not ensure a successful marriage. It is important that you guard against entering your new life together with a huge debt from your wedding. The money saved from spending on an elaborate wedding can go towards the purchase of your new home. Therefore it would be wise to open a joint account, (where both for you and your fiancé’s signatures are needed for withdrawals), for the purpose of saving on a monthly basis towards your wedding. You should avoid the use of your credit cards and applying to a financial institution for a loan because you would only put yourself in debt, which you should try to avoid.

After the initial excitement, wears off, you realize the magnitude of the task of planning for your wedding. You should therefore discuss the following with your fiancé:
• Budget
• Venue for the reception
• The guest list
• Catering and menu
• Wedding wear
• Church/Outdoor Ceremony
• Bridal Party
• Flowers
• Cakes
• Rings
• Honeymoon, etc.

Planning for your Wedding

It is important that you and your fiancé discuss the various details of your impending wedding and decide how much you intend to spend. Today most couples save jointly towards this special occasion and continue to save in order to reach their goal of purchasing their home.

As a general rule, allocate 50% of your budget to the reception (location, food, {including the cakes}, drinks, decorations, music) then 10% each to rings, attire (bridal gown, tuxedos), photography/taping, and honeymoon. The remaining 10% can be used for invitations and other miscellaneous items.

A budget is a great planning tool for the wedding. Write down your budget, as that would help you to stay within your target when you are shopping. Once you and your fiancé have agreed on the budget you should then prepare a “To Do” list with set timelines and persons assigned to get things done. This budget is going to become very familiar to you because you would have to refer to it frequently.

A meeting should also be arranged with both sets of your parents in order to invite them to form part of the planning process. This occasion is most times, a joy for parents and they would be delighted to be of assistance. They are usually willing to offer financial assistance as well. To avoid duplication and confusion in the planning phases it would be wise to assign them specific duties.

Venue for the Wedding
There are many popular venues for wedding receptions and they usually offer an all-inclusive package, for instance catering services, bar, table, chairs, linen, cutlery and decorations. Usually 50% of the budget should be allocated for the reception (this includes of food, bar, decorations, disc jockey) if it to be held at such a venue. The least expensive venue is likely to be at someone’s home.

When deciding on the venue you must bear in mind what kind of wedding you would like. For instance, is it a formal wedding, an informal wedding, a morning wedding, etc. Whatever your decision, refer to the budget when shopping and ensure that you stay within budget as far as is practicable.

When making your booking you must bear in mind that a deposit is required in advance, to hold the reception hall for the day requested.
If you are working on a tight budget, or you may prefer to save your money in order to start your life together, then there are alternative venues which you can choose from. Alternative venues enable persons to save a lot of money. You would have more control of the planning since you would choose the caterers, decorators, etc.

Guest List
Now that you have finished preparing your budget you and your fiancé must decide on the guest list together. This is usually the most contentious item in the planning. Will you invite only immediate family or will you include first and second cousins? Will the list include persons from your respective workplaces? How many of your friends will be included?

Whatever the decisions, both you and your fiancé must agree on how many and who would be invited to the wedding. Know that you cannot invite everyone you know or who knows you. Also your parents should be given the option to include some of their friends on the guest list.

Most established reception venues would include catering services as part of their cost. However if the wedding reception will take place where catering services are not included, then these arrangements will have to be made. It is always better and often cheaper to source your own caterer. You get to liaise with the caterer directly and decide on the menu and tailor the food and drink services to your needs.

Traditional wedding ceremonies are held in a Church. After the ceremony, the guests then proceed to the reception venue. If an outdoor wedding is planned then the ceremony may be held in the open air. Having an outdoor ceremony requires tents (in case of rain), chairs for the guests, altar, musicians, etc.

Persons may choose to go with the traditional wedding cakes. That is a 3- tiered bridal cake, with lots of roses and flowers, a smaller cake for the groom and two (2) side cakes. This traditional style of cake is proving to be very expensive and persons are more and more deciding to go with smaller cakes. Whatever the decision, remember that the cake you choose must fall within the allocated budget figure. About 3 per cent of budget figure should go towards the cake.

Your wedding flowers are in every photograph you take and these pictures usually last a lifetime. The flowers bring life to the atmosphere and it is one of the things that your guests will notice. Therefore the flowers for your bouquet, the bouquets for the bridal party, the corsages and the flowers for the Church and reception venue, must be truly reflective of your style. They must all be tastefully done. Flowers can be expensive therefore you must have in mind exactly what you would like to achieve with your flowers. If possible take some pictures to your florist and work closely with her to achieve your goal. More and more people are using a mix of real (to get the smell) and plastic flowers for decorating the reception venue.
About 15% of the budget should be allocated to this exercise.

Bridal Party
When choosing your bridal party it may be wise to choose close family members and close friends. You and your fiancé should agree on the size of the bridal party and on the persons who should form the party. Usually the bridesmaids and groomsmen pay for their own dress and accessories.

Bridal Wear
The groom’s suit and the bride’s gown can be very expensive. There are many bridal expos throughout the country during the year where gowns and suits can be purchased at a cheaper price than they are on the market.
Alternatively you may want your Wedding clothes to be sewn by your seamstress or tailor. Whatever your decision, bear in mind that the clothes should compliment you and it should be wonderfully made. After all, this is your day.
Brides! Remember too that tradition dictates that you wear:
Something old, something new
Something borrowed, something blue.

The honeymoon should also be factored into the budget. This period will give the newly wed time to relax together after their big day and for them to reflect on their new life together. For some, this is an important part of the marriage process. Whether you go on a honeymoon and where you go, depend on your budget.

Other Important Items
These are some other details to be discussed for instance:
Choosing the rings;
Chief Brides Maid
Best man
Master of ceremonies
Gifts register
Limousine for bride and groom, etc.
You should be very practical when choosing your rings. Consider the option of having a jeweler transform an old ring into a wedding ring.

There should be a list of all the things which you should go through in detail and plan accordingly.

Planning a wedding is a very enjoyable yet time consuming exercise. You and your fiancé must ensure that you save towards this event. You should make a budget and follow it closely. Also a plan and time-line to get things done is important. Once you work closely with your budget and follow your plan, your event will come off beautifully. 

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