Every wedding is a budget wedding, whether it costs $500 or $50,000, because at some point, somebody decided what to spend on throwing this great big bash and put together a budget to figure out how to pay for it all. And no matter where you fall on the spectrum, you're likely to make the same big mistakes. Consider yourself warned.
In the Beginning...
Building a Budget Backwards
Or well, forwards, I guess. Most brides start by setting a budget with line items for every expense, but quickly run into sticker shock over the cost of their dream photographer, venue and wedding cake. So photographer LeiLani Golden suggests this lightbulb moment: Build your budget backwards. Make a list of your vendor dream team, then tally up the costs of their services to see how much your perfect wedding actually costs. Once you see that number, you can decide where you want to cut down to meet your cash on hand, or even delay the wedding while you save up for the perfect day.
Along the Way...
Not Adding Up All the Little Things
You've added up what to pay the photographer, caterer and DJ, and found a number that works for you and your bank account. Great! But don't forget about the smaller purchases that creep up during wedding planning, especially towards the end. You've budgeted for a dress, but how about the alterations? Your aunt is springing to treat the bridesmaids to hair and makeup, but do you have some money earmarked to buy them wedding party gifts? If you leave these things off the final budget because they're "minor expenses," you'll risk letting your wedding budget get out of control.
The Week Before the Wedding...
Forgetting About Tips
Yep, just like in a restaurant, tipping is a customary practice in the wedding world. Real Simple has a great guide to who to tip and how much, but as a general rule, you should leave a little envelope for everyone who worked at your wedding with two exceptions: When gratuity is already included in your contract, or when the person performing the service owns their operation (like a self-employed photographer or a band you booked yourself). Don't forget, too, about cash tips for delivery drivers.