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Dear Olga: Wedding Planning on a Budget

Dear Olga,

I've been "planning a wedding" for some time now. The truth is I'm building a freelance business and my fiancé doesn't make a whole lot of money and we aren't saving anything, and it's been about ten months now. There's still no ring and lots of pressure for a wedding.

Please help!



Dear EV,

Wedding planning can be extremely stressful, there are so many expectations to manage. It's a special day that you want to remember forever, naturally your families will begin to give their own two cents, and with all of that pressure there's still the matter of money. I hope my advice gives you some guidance on planning your wedding, after-all this should be a time of celebration!

There are two ways to approach a wedding budget. The first approach is to set a fixed amount that will represent the maximum amount you are willing to spend. If you plan for the wedding to be in a year, you'll need to have about 50% of that amount saved up to start out with. Many vendors require a deposit when you agree to use their services. Couples that use this approach find it can get really stressful in the last few months leading up to the wedding because they are having to scramble for last minute cash. They are also more likely to go over-budget.

The second approach is to reverse-engineer this budget. This is my favorite problem-solving method, I believe it allows for you to make more accurate estimates instead of randomly choosing a number from thin air. To do this with a wedding budget, list the items that you will have to pay for and what the maximum mount is you'll be willing to pay for each item. This will allow you to prioritize what matters to you and your fiancé. Couples that use this approach are more likely to set realistic goals and expectations. If they do go over-budget, it is more in-line with what they can afford.

Regardless of which approach you go with, this most likely still sounds really overwhelming. A very handy tool many of my friends have used to plan their weddings is The Knot. It even has an app with a budget tool 😉 and since it was built by wedding experts, it will be hard to miss any expenses.

Here are some additional ideas on how to have your fabulous day without breaking the bank:

  • Rent the Runway now allows brides to rent their wedding gowns for their special day

  • Happily Ever BorroWED is similar to Rent the Runway but focuses on veils and accessories

  • Focus on what matters to you both. Some couples value the ceremony over a reception so they spend most of their efforts on the ceremony and have a reception in a restaurant instead of event hall. Others get married in a small ceremony and plan for the reception to be the main event.

  • Have a friend officiate

  • Have friends help with setting up for the big day instead of asking for wedding gifts

  • There is also a growing fad of sponsored wedding. It can be a good way to cut down your costs but also involves a lot of work that you may not be able to add to starting a freelance business

  • A growing trend amongst my friends is to have a City Hall wedding, followed up with a ceremony on their 1st wedding anniversary.

Remember, at the end of the day, your wedding day is about celebrating you and your fiancé. It's about commemorating your love and starting a journey together as partners. Make choices that will allow you and your soon-to-be husband to start your life together as a married couple on the right foot. There is no wrong or right way to get married and you will find what works for you as you start working on your plans. And don't forget to have some fun!

I hope this gives you some ideas where to start your wedding-planning process.

Good luck! Olga


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