Planning the Wedding of Your Dreams

You’ve got the guy, you’ve got the ring…and now it’s time to start planning this thing. Bewildering, isn’t it? Don’t give yourself a hard time – you’ve never planned a wedding before, so you’re not supposed to know how to plan a wedding. Thankfully, we have Liz Coopersmith from Silver Charm Events who is an expert on wedding planning on a budget. She got her start as a wedding planner by planning her own wedding with a $10k budget, now how many people can boast that? Here are her tips on staying on track with your wedding planning process.

First things first - what do you want your wedding to look like? Do you want it to be indoors or outdoors? What three things do you have to have on that day – a certain color, a certain flower, a particular drink or even a particular view? If that question is bringing anything to mind, flip it – what three things do you NOT want at your wedding? Many times that question is the easiest to answer.

Then it’s time to tackle the logistics. Between the two of you, how many guests are you going to invite? And, most importantly, what’s your budget?  The average budget nationwide is $20,000, but in larger metropolitan areas, it can be as much as $10 – 15, 000 more than that. What is it that you’re willing to spend?

Now that you’ve got all that nailed down, it’s time to focus on the three things that are going to be the biggest parts of your wedding. No, not your dress. While the new car smell is still wafting up from the sparkler on your finger, you’ll be tempted to further embrace the pretty by searching for the perfect Vera Wang clone,  you know, at the pre-requisite 20-70% off. But you need to hold off on that. Your dress (THE dress) will still be there, and probably a little bit cheaper, too.

What’s Most Expensive? Your venue, your catering and your photography are going to be the biggest, and most expensive part of your wedding. And the for the budget-conscious – and let’s face it, these days we’re all budget conscious – it’s important to keep in mind that your ceremony and reception are going to take up 50% of your budget. Just put that aside, right now, don’t count on it costing any less. Of that, aim to spend abou 15- 10% of that on renting your wedding venue, and the other 40-45% on catering. Take a look at the transcript of a teleclass I gave on wedding venues, and an mp3 of another of my  classes on wedding catering, to get a better idea of what you need to ask and know. And to keep your catering cost in perspective, think of this – a nice dinner at a place like the Olive Garden, with dinner, appetizers, salad a glass of wine and dessert is going to be close to $35 per person. The food at your wedding isn’t going to be any less than that, plus tax and service. As far as finding your wedding site, start with the resources you have. Have you been to a wedding at a place that you really like? Get some more recommendations from your friends and relatives, too.

And then on to photography. Your photographs are the one tangible item that you’re going to take away from your wedding, and can easily cost another 15% of your budget. Get recommendations from your venue first, but you should also google wedding photography at your site, for instance, “Adamson House Wedding photos”, which should bring up a slew of blogs and websites of photographers that have shot at your venue. Pick three that you like, and start calling.

Getting those three things squared away will not only determine where you stand as far as your budget is concerned, but also formalize your wedding style and theme, moving forward. Now you can look for your dress. THE dress, I mean. Have fun!

See you at the end of the aisle,

Liz Coopersmith

Liz Coopersmith is the owner of Silver Charm Events, a wedding planning service in Los Angeles. She got her start by planning her own wedding under 10k and is great with managing your wedding budget. You can find out more through her website, or follow her on Twitter.

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