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Keeping it real…and within your budget

Since research shows that financial problems still land on the top five list of issues married couples quarrel about, it doesn’t make sense to start out with a wedding that’s beyond what you can afford.

Many women – and some men – have thought about their dream weddings for a very long time. Once engaged, however, there can be a sense of “sticker shock” when they realize that all those dreams come with a very real price tag.

Here are the best tips we’ve found for keeping your wedding on budget:

1. Talk realistically about your budget with your spouse-to-be. Discussing finances now is laying a good foundation for your marriage. Both of you need to be honest about current expenses and what part of your income you can set aside for wedding expenses. Discuss what sacrifices you are each willing to make to maximize the dollars you can put towards your wedding, such as making your morning coffee at home instead of hitting up a coffee shop, bringing lunch from home every day, adding a couple weeks between hair appointments, etc. Just make sure that each of you are willingly making sacrifices, and that the sacrifices are equitable. Also, if parents or other family members have offered to contribute, get actual dollar amounts for their contributions, so you know what you have to work with.

2. Set your priorities…and be willing to let go of some things that are lower on your list. A Practical Wedding has some great advice about how to combine your list and your spouse-to-be’s list into a cohesive priority list that will satisfy both of you.

3. Think of sticking to your budget as an act of love. Too often, one partner will ignore their own feelings about money in order to indulge the desires of the other. In reality, it’s more loving to say something like, “I know you really want to have this for our wedding, but  it’s outside of our budget, and I want us to start out our marriage on solid financial ground. Our future together is more important than anything.”

4. Don’t hire a vendor without checking references. There’s nothing worse than watching every penny, only to have your hard-earned dollars wasted on somebody who is incapable of giving you what you asked for.

5. And don’t hire family unless they have actual skills. It may seem like a frugal idea to have Cousin Tilly make your wedding cake or Aunt Martha sew the bridesmaid dresses as a wedding gift to you and your beloved, but as the infamous Titanic Wedding Disaster story proves, a well-meaning relative may not be the most reliable choice. If Uncle Ray has real experience as a hair stylist, by all means, ask him to do your do, but otherwise, stick to the pros.

6. Bundle services when you can. Sometimes you can save a lot by going with a reception hall that also offers catering, or a photographer who will bundle engagement photos with wedding photos. Your Complete Weddings + Events team also bundles services, so you can get your deejay, photographer, photobooth, videographer and custom lighting in one package deal.

7. Pay as you go.  Huffington Post has a great article that covers a lot of details in wedding budgeting. One idea there is to divide your total budget by the number of months preceding your big day, which will help you determine how much each of you have to set aside from your paychecks. Then, get a credit or debit card just for wedding expenses and put your monthly wedding allowance toward that card. When you opt for a card that pays rewards like mileage or cash back, you could even help finance your honeymoon while you pay for your wedding.

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