Wedding Budget Mistakes to Avoid

Planning a wedding can be a whirlwind experience. Many couples who are planning this event for the first time can easily get caught up in the rapture of creating a fairytale event. Creating, evaluating and managing a wedding budget is the cornerstone to a successful big day. Even when couples have the best intentions of sticking to their budgets, there are times when things go off-track. Knowing the budget pitfalls in advance can help you avoid them.

Failing to Budget

Don't even think about planning a wedding without committing to creating and tracking a budget. Whether you do it yourself or you turn the task over to a wedding planner, you have to pay close attention to your spending, because expenses can pile up quickly. Quicken allows you to set up special purpose budgets, but more important, it helps you manage your bill payments and track them in the budget. You can enter information about all the vendors you'll be using and set up online payments to them. Many vendors require partial or complete payment in advance, so Quicken's ability to schedule these and automatically integrate the information into the budget helps prevent slip-ups.

Choosing False Economies

Understand that you can end up busting your budget if you decide to take on certain wedding tasks, such as decorating or cake baking, for which you have little experience. Unless you know what you're doing, DIY projects might end up being more costly than just buying the item or paying an expert. For example, if you decide to make your own centerpieces, you have to purchase flowers -- do you know how to buy and store flowers? -- buy vases and spend time learning how to arrange your floral showpieces. If you budget this item on a DIY basis and then discover you're in over your head, chances are you'll spend quite a bit more than you anticipated. It's more economical to set your budget using a realistic assessment of the work you'd be better off contracting out.

Making Uninformed Assumptions

Avoid setting budget amounts based on a hunch or on the costs of a friend's wedding that took place five years ago. You can sidestep sticker shock if you get estimates from contractors and venues very early in the process and setting your budget accordingly. You may need to set aside a fair amount of time to identify trustworthy vendors and read contracts. For example, if you're hiring a professional photographer, be clear on her fees for travel time, editing, printing and any other services. Many couples get excited about seeing the photo album but neglect to itemize all the fees that get them to the final product. A reputable photographer will explain the package of services offered and all the associated fees. Another important tip: Always check references when hiring contractors and vendors.

Failing to Control the Guest List

Don't end up kicking yourself for inviting 75 people when you budgeted for 50. Each time you add a name to your invitation list, you're increasing your expenses. It's not just the catering costs, but also the extra centerpieces, favors and rentals. Wedding planner Shellecia Henry advises, "Don't invite anyone you haven't talked to in five years. Don't feel obligated to let single people bring a date. Avoid feeling pressured to invite all your work colleagues, and don't let your friends bring their children." You might also decide to eliminate categories like "relatives more distant than first cousins" or "friends from volunteer work." By not inviting anyone from a particular group, you'll help avoid hurt feelings while protecting the integrity of your budget.

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