Avoid these costly bridal blunders!
1. Lack of Budget Priorities
Start with a realistic overall budget, which will involve planning meetings with your fiancé. Then list your wedding details from "gotta have it" to unnecessary, says Debi Lilly, owner of A Perfect Event in Chicago. "That way you can put your dollars on the higher priorities, and spend less on what isn't so important."
2. Not Reading the Fine Print
Don't skip reading anything, and if you have questions, ask immediately, especially about payment terms, says Jennifer Blanco, wedding sales manager at Danford's Hotel & Marina in Port Jefferson, New York. You want to know exactly when payments or balances are due; if there are any minimum charges, corkage fees for wine, cake-cutting fees-or any other possibly pricey unknowns. If your wedding is a year or more away, be sure to block in guaranteed prices on catering and liquor. If a vendor pressures you to sign, take that as your cue to look elsewhere. Nothing is so urgent that it can't wait, at least overnight.
3. Falling Prey to Peer Pressure
Repress the urge to impress other people, says Lilly. Imagine that you're in a safe little bubble, where you're unaffected by others' choices. You'll be more likely to stick to your budget.
4. Leaping Before Looking
Spend some time investigating venues and other vendors. If you're the spreadsheet type, go ahead and plug in details-cost, services, extras, terms-for every vendor you consider. Even if you end up going back to that love-at-first-sight place, you know you did your due diligence.
5. Getting Stuck on "Should's"
Ask yourself, as you consider every extra detail, whether it will be something you'll care about in the future. If you're convinced you'll be upset to think back on a wedding without a videographer, then by all means hire one. But if you realize that looking back on a two-minute ride in a snazzy car is unlikely to mean much to you, feel free to skip it.
6. Not Knowing What You Both Want
When you're unsure what you want, you're susceptible to sales pitches, to vendors pushing for more expensive choices, or to someone who insists you need, say, engraved invites. "Make a top-five list of things you can't live without," says Blanco. After that, financial decisions come easier.
7. Letting Your Guest List Grow...and Grow
It's a simple math equation: More people equals more money. You may feel you're being generous when you extend the invite to your entire office or to peripheral plus-ones, but you won't feel quite so expansive when you've strained your budget to the breaking point. Figure out how many guests you can actually afford. Then make your list, splitting it among your own guests, your groom's and your parents'. After that, have everyone chop from the bottom and create a "B" list, suggests Vanessa Wakeman, owner of Indulgence Events in New York City. "Order extra reply cards and send these after the initial RSVPs come in and you know if you have space." You may be able to invite a few people that you cut from the first list-without breaking the budget.
8. Stuffing Your Guests
Rest assured that no one at your wedding will starve: "A reputable catering company will never underestimate how much food you'll need," says Wakeman. And keep in mind that the more choices you offer, the higher the cost. "Be sure to tell your caterer what your budget is, and what kinds of food you want to include in the meal, and then let her work her magic within the parameters you give her," says Wakeman."Remember, you're paying for her expertise, so trust her to do the job right!"
9. Not Thinking Creatively
Be imaginative. What if, instead of traditional red roses, you chose local blooms? Or what if you asked a florist to create one centerpiece that you and your friends can use as a template for making the rest yourselves? You'll save lots on the labor that the florist would have to put in. Creative-and inexpensive-solutions tend to work best when money is tight.
10. Trying to Do It All Yourself
Trying to handle every last detail all on your own can end up costing you because you simply don't have time to do all the research to find the most economical choices. Go ahead and enlist help. Though wedding planners come with their own costs, hiring one might save you money. Another way to share the work and save money? Delegate jobs to friends and family-you may be surprised at the fine options they come up with. Also, many brides who have talented friends ask for their help with decorating, invitations or flowers. People are usually happy to pitch in and contribute to the success of a friend's big day.