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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Trends for 2018 Weddings

Whether you are planning a wedding that is on-trend or counter-trend, you need to know what’s hot in 2018.

Brides Magazine says ultra violet is the on-point color of the year, along with black accents or 3-D florals on traditionally styled white wedding dresses. They’re eager for feel-good menu items – think breakfast, food trucks, or made-to-order pizza – as well as quirky dessert tables and hanging floral arrangements at down-sized, more intimate receptions.

Martha Stewart Weddings is envisioning potted plants as wedding decors, smaller wedding parties, and a trend back to indoor weddings – which makes sense since there are fewer concerns about hot summer days and drippy spring, fall or winter clouds. Couples may start focusing more on “after parties” following receptions, which will feature see-through venues (think lots of glass or transparent tents), colored candles, and textured linens.

WeddingWire.com says navy blue tops the color palette with silver or chrome accents. They predict receptions filled with unique foods, creative desserts (but yes, formal cakes are still in!), hanging floral arrangements, and fresh entertainment ideas. That includes new spins on the photo booth, which your Complete team would be more than happy to execute for you.

HuffPost got a sneak peak at the International Wedding Trend Report and came away with some really interesting ideas, including an emphasis on the Japanese philosophy, Wabi-Sabi – finding beauty in imperfection. They anticipate ultra-personalized weddings and receptions with smaller guest lists and pointed to ultra violet and moody color combos for palette.

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Sensational seating solutions

Out of everything on that long wedding to-do list, nothing seems to stress out more brides, grooms, or their parents than the dreaded reception seating arrangements.

There always seems to be the odd chair left over at one table and another one at that table. There’s the troublesome distant relative or two who can’t get along with any family members. There are the work friends who only know you and each other, and the college friends whose break-up still stings enough that they are best placed on opposite sides of the room. Then the big question: where shall the newlyweds sit?

We may not have a magic wand, but we do have some suggestions that can help you get through this with a little less hassle.

  1. Opt for family seating. Put up one long table for each of you, another for mutual friends, and two smaller tables to accommodate each of your co-workers. If your dad can’t stand your mother’s great-aunt, they can be seated far enough apart to make conversation impossible.
  2. Use a mix of tables. Most reception venues have circular, rectangular and square tables. Rectangular tables make the best use of space, but square tables allow for smaller groups (and fewer personality clashes). Meanwhile, circular tables are great for an odd number of guests because everybody can be evenly spaced without awkwardness. A combination of all of the above is much easier than forcing yourself to have ten people to a table.
  3. Assign tables but not seats. You needn’t fuss about whether Cousin Jerry should be on Grandpa’s left or Grandma’s right. Just give your guests table numbers and let them decide for themselves who sits next to whom.
  4. Skip the seating chart altogether. No, really! If you have fewer than 100 guests, just skip it. You’ve invited grown-ups – they are perfectly capable of choosing their own tables. Simply ask the reception hall to set up for ten extra seats so nobody is left looking for a place to sit.
  5. Go clubbing. If you’re not having a formal dinner or buffet, but opting for finger foods, brunch, cocktails and hors d’oeurves, etc., work with your reception hall to arrange club seating instead of traditional tables. A combination of high tables, sofas with cocktail tables, club chairs and the like make for a cozy setting where nobody has to feel tied to a chair.
  6. Mix & match your guests. If you’re really having trouble figuring out how to seat your family members without stirring up old feuds, try mixing everybody up from both sides and matching them according to common interests. Those college pals who love to hunt and fish are apt to be a good fit with family members who do the same. Your coworker and her husband who love old movies will surely find something to talk about with your TCM-addicted aunt and uncle. Just be sure to indicate their shared interests with trivia cards or other conversation starters.
  7. Center yourselves. Whether you have a sweetheart table for just the two of you or a “head” table with your wedding party, or a family table with your parents and sibling, make sure your table is in the middle of the reception room, so it’s easier for you to see as many people as possible.

    We have more reception planning ideas saved on our Reception Planning Pinterest board.

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