Advice for Brides and Grooms: You don’t have to do everything

In my final installment of advice posts expanding on my Trusted Tips video (endless thanks to The Dandelion Patch and Bowen Films for their help with that) I’m giving some general budget advice for your wedding. Make sure you check out my past posts about eating the morning of your wedding, wedding day transportation tips, wedding reception seating advice and your first dance.

Today I’m going to say what needs to be said about your wedding budget. What many think is budget advice that goes against a wedding planner’s own best interest. And maybe it does to an extent. But here it goes: you do not have to do anything that you don’t want or can’t afford to do. That specific nugget of wisdom came up when a bride and groom asked me if they had welcome bags. This couple really did not want to do them. Welcome bags did not fit into the wedding budget, and I also don’t think they had the mental space to take on another project for the wedding day. The look of relief they gave me when I said “no, you certainly don’t have to do them” was so memorable. I explained that while welcome bags are a nicety that your wedding guests will appreciate, they are a recent invention that no one truly needs. They are a luxury, a bonus, a treat. Not a requirement. I’ve had variations of this same conversation with almost all my clients over the past 11 years:

Do I have to send save the date cards?

Am I required to give my guests party favors? 

What if I don’t want to host a Sunday brunch for our wedding guests?

a groom signs his Washington DC marriage license

Which leads to a larger theme. Very few things are truly required to start your marriage – namely an officiant, a marriage license, and, in some locations, a witness. Everything else is an extra. Don’t get me wrong, of course I understand why you want to throw a party and invite all your dearest friends and family to celebrate your marriage! And no one would find any fault in that! But the extent to which you celebrate is truly all your choice. If you want a casual buffet meal , despite a family member thinking only a plated meal is proper for a wedding, have a buffet meal! Maybe wedding photography isn’t all that important to you, then book the smallest package.  If you can’t afford professional hair & make up, ask your stylish friend to help. I’m still hoping to find a client who will skip flowers altogether and get creative with nontraditional decor.

a groom awaits his bride at the front of a Virginia church

Everyone has a wedding budget – even “unlimited budget” clients will find their tipping point. You must discover your priorities and must-haves and adjust your budget and your plans accordingly, despite any outside influences (be they blogs, magazines, or well-meaning friends or family) And I caution you against accepting wedding budget contributions for decision making powers – this can only lead to major stress and strife down the road, even if you really think that you don’t care about the topic you are giving the contributor reign over.

What wedding budget items are stressing you out? Leave me a comment below if you have a question about wedding budget advice that I might be able to help with.