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Budgets | Manolo for the Brides - Part 3
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Where are Brides Cutting Costs? Splashing Out?

We all know that throwing a nice wedding can run to a lot of money. All the same, the overall national average price tag is on a small downward spiral. According to a new study by The Wedding Report, the average wedding budget fell 3.4% in 2011 compared to 2012. When the numbers are adjusted for inflation, the drop is nearly 6%.

Of course, this is an average of a lot of disparate celebrations, and nobody expects anyone to choose how and where to spend their money according to it. Still, some interesting trends do start to stand out.

Buy or DIY: How to Decide

(Illustration via Austin Wedding Blog, where you can find instructions for a cute tissue paper cherry blossom centerpiece)
Here at Manolo for the Brides, we’re big fans of the wedding DIY project. Virtually everything I was capable of making for my own wedding, I did make… including the lace for my wedding gown. To me, handmade things give a unique air to an event, and all the moreso when the hands belong to the people giving the shindig.

But not every bride is a DIY diva. Not every bride is good at all the things that go into making a wedding pretty and unique. Not every bride has the time or the inclination to create very much by hand. And you know what? Any one of those things is a good reason to leave the work to the experts and have it done for you.

And then there’s the bride who really wants to make at least one or two things, but isn’t certain what projects to pick. How do you choose what to make for yourself and what to give to a professional to do?

As per usual, I’ve got a few thoughts on the subject.

How Much Does it Cost?

Money doesn’t grow on trees. Weddings aren’t necessarily cheap. In fact, the average wedding in the US, according to statistics, costs roughly $26.542 today. That’s a lot of money.

But there’s a funny thing about average statistics: they reflect all weddings and none, not any one specific wedding.

Five Tips to Keep Your Budget Out of the Red

Finish this sentence:

A) is the root of all evil
B) makes the world go around
C) makes my head spin like the girl in The Exorcist
D) changes everything

Chances are if you’re in the throes of planning a wedding budget – or trying to stick to one – you’re rapidly learning it doesn’t go as far as you’d like it to. With the national wedding budget average hovering in the neighborhood of twenty grand, and some regions (New York and San Francisco, I’m looking at you) breaking into hysterical laughter at the concept that someone could ever throw a wedding on such a paltry sum, it’s easy to assume that you’ll need a sudden lottery jackpot win, or at least a hefty personal loan, to get you to the alter in reasonable financial shape.

Look, I’m not going to sugar coat this. If you don’t have a lot of cash, then it’s a lot harder to put on a significant wedding bash. Everything from clothes to party decorations to food to facility rental costs money. Some of these things may seem to cost more than they’re worth. But there are ways to help you have the wedding of your dreams without winding up in huge amounts of debt. And I’m going to share five of these tips right now.

Five Tips to Keep On Budget

When it comes to your wedding, it’s easy to get a little carried away. So many things are expected, so many of us have dreamed about pretty things, so many businesses are lining up eagerly to sell us pretty things we had never even considered. And what’s the one thing each of those pretty things has in common? They cost money.

No matter how carefully we budget in advance, it can be easy to add a few dollars here, and indulge a little there until we suddenly discover that we will spend our first married year eating our choice of rice or beans every day, because we can’t even afford both at the same time.

But with a little extra care, we can avoid overspending. Here are a few ideas on how to keep the budget from blowing out of proportion.

Is It Okay to Haggle With Wedding Vendors?

Weddings are expensive, amirite?

Most wedding vendors post package prices on their web sites – and if not, a photographer or caterer or florist will usually have a brochure listing a sort of menu of various packages and options. And it’s easy to balk at those rates when you’re newly-engaged. I’ve been asked a few times by brides-to-be whether it’s okay to haggle with wedding vendors, i.e., say something like “Are you willing to give me Package B for $1500 instead of $2000? How about $1800?” My answer? I don’t think so. As much as I like to talk about the “wedding tax” and how overpriced so many wedding accessories are, I also like to think that most wedding vendors are good, honest people and thus price their services accordingly.

A wedding vendor is not a weekend flea market hobbyist or a homeowner hosting a garage sale, and the payment they receive for the services they provide to brides and grooms are often their sole source of income. Maybe it’s just that I’m a freelancer, but the idea of treating a specialty service like a secondhand stairmaster seems a little weird to me. So no, I would not recommend haggling with wedding vendors.

What you can do is negotiate based on your needs. Let’s say the aforementioned Package B is for wedding flowers and you think $2000 seems a little steep BUT you love the florist’s work. AND you don’t actually need or even really want every last little thing in Package B. There’s nothing at all wrong with approaching the wedding florist you’ve fallen in love with and telling her that Package B makes the most sense for you, but you only need five centerpieces, not eight, and you’re having bridesmen not bridesmaids so you won’t need any bridesmaids’ bouquets. I don’t think I’ve ever personally encountered a wedding vendor who was unwilling to make adjustments to prices when making adjustments to packages.

In other words, negotiating with wedding vendors is usually as easy as asking to order “off the menu” and there’s nothing wrong with simply inquiring as to whether a vendor is willing to lower their package prices when you’re not asking for everything in that particular package. (And you should never feel obligated to take everything in a package when you don’t want it!) That way, you and your wedding vendors can work together to create something that’s exactly what you need at a price that you can both live with.

What do you think of negotiating with wedding vendors? How about haggling – would you do it?

LOVE/HATE: The ‘Bad Attitude’ Edition

Ever notice that there’s a lot of negativity in the wedding world? I feel like once upon a time – maybe before my time – you could have a wedding, and if you said your vows, fed people, had some music, cut the cake, and the newlyweds behaved graciously, people wouldn’t worry too too much about the specifics. But now, oh, now! It’s getting to be that the poor brides posting on message boards are so afraid to offend anyone with their choices that they’re too terrified to actually make any! And that’s on top of brides fearing that someone will judge their weddings not swanky enough, tacky, or whatever.

No matter where you turn, someone is making fun of something that somewhere, a bride-to-be is probably thinking of doing. And since we’re all doing everything on the Internet, there’s a pretty good chance that said bride-to-be will encounter someone putting her ideas down. In an article on Brides.com, April Winchell (of Regretsy fame) outlines a few “‘Money-saving’ Ideas That Will Cost You Your Dignity”, and I have to admit the piece made me rather sad. Here’s a sample of the aforementioned ideas that are apparently dignity drains.

“Toast with white wine instead of Champagne: Champagne can get expensive, and not everyone likes the carbonation.”

I’m sure lots of people will strenuously object to toasting your marriage with Champagne. “How was the wedding?” “It was okay, except for the carbonation. That was a downer.”

You know, some people don’t like dressing up, either. Maybe you should ask everyone to come in sweatpants, and you can all eat pizza over the sink.

“…do away with alcohol altogether and have a coffee bar! Guests can get cappuccinos, espressos, or even decaf.”

Sheet cake and decaf! It’s like Saturday night at the nursing home, only not as fun.

And now that you’ve ruined dinner, how about saving the planet?

Okay, okay, I know the article was more than a little tongue-in-cheek and Winchell even says outright that not everyone approaches saving money in the same way…”My reasonable expense might be your ridiculous extravagance. Your sensible cost-cutter might give me a headache from rolling my eyes.” But really, I have to go with hate on this one. I don’t hate the article, of course. It makes some great points about prioritizing and not trying to overdo the budget wedding substitutions. What I hate is the mean-spirited attitude behind it, which seems to be so pervasive in the world of weddings.

You don’t have a tiered cake? That’s not wedding cake! You’re not serving alcohol? Guess your dry reception will suck. You’re walking down the aisle to what now? Don’t you respect tradition? Your father isn’t giving you away? You’re doomed to divorce! You hear these things everywhere, from brides-to-be, former brides, and people in no way associated with any current weddings, but by gum, they’re going to weigh in.

My guess is that none of you lovely people reading this is going to say you love nasty bridal snarking. But does this get your goat, too? Or am I being too sensitive?

Gorgeous image via The Sweetest Occasion

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