By Kellee Khalil for Lover.ly
When planning your wedding, figuring out your budget can be an emotional experience. Balancing your own desires with your family's and your future in-laws' expectations can definitely bring about denial, anger, bargaining, and depression. Here is our guide to getting through each of the stages of wedding budget grief and making it all the way to the final phase: acceptance.
Despite years of attending weddings and seeing weddings on blogs or in tabloids, you may have lost all sense of what a not-lavish-but-still-including-most-of-the-"traditional"-trappings wedding actually costs. As you start to do your research, there will be some sticker shock. "There must be some mistake," you'll think. "There is no way that they mean to charge us $5,000 for the venue before we've even paid for the food." Right? Wrong.
Get through it by...doing research to get a sense of the going rate for a wedding in the city where you want to be married, as well as a few other cities. You'll start to get an idea of what your dream wedding costs in different areas and will quickly get a sense of what venues are outrageously priced and which are pretty average.
Once you've moved past denial, you head into phase two: anger. Anger at the wedding industry for charging so much money to feed 75 people, anger at your sister for insisting you need the letterpressed invitations, and, worst of all, anger at your fiance for wanting anything for the wedding that costs any sort of money. Suddenly, his or her desire for that $2.50-per-slice wedding cake seems like the end of the world. "Why am I even marrying this person, anyway?" you'll ask yourself as you stare at your spreadsheet trying to figure out how on earth you'll afford the live band your fiance can't live without.
Get through it by...remembering that you and your fiance are on the same side. Once you start thinking of it as the two of you against the $20,000 food and beverage minimum at your dream venue, wedding planning will get much easier. You and your beloved can stop fighting each other and instead work together to come up with creative ways to save money.
During the bargaining phase, you may start attempting to haggle with wedding vendors or trying to find someone who is less experienced to do your wedding on the cheap. This is the point at which you start thinking, "OK, I could totally bake the cake myself and make my own dress...even though I don't even own a sewing machine!"
Get through it by...consideringthat wedding professionals are often small business owners and they charge what they do for a reason. It's OK to ask if, say, you could save money by having your wedding on a weekday, but it's not cool to accuse them of trying to rip you off or pushing them to work for less than they're worth. And while we love a DIY weddings, they certainly aren't for every couple. If you don't have any sort of aptitude for arts and crafts, it might be better to scale back your wedding expectations instead of planning to do everything yourself.
There will come a point when you'll think you've moved on to acceptance, but then something will happen -- a fight with your mom about the favors, the realization that you forgot to budget for postage for the invites -- and you'll hit the depression phase. Wedding planning? It's for rich people, which you certainly are not. "I don't even care," you'll tell your fiance as you stare out the window despondently. "Let's just go to Vegas."
Get through it by...figuring out what you really want. If you never wanted a big wedding to begin with and you feel like the stress of wedding planning is hurting your relationship, go ahead and elope! But if you're just frustrated by the planning process, don't give up. Talk to the people closest to you and let them know that you've reached a breaking point. If you need your mom to stop obsessing about the favors, tell her that. If you need your fiance to scale back on spending so you aren't so stressed about money, say so. You don't have to go through this alone.
Eventually, you'll realize that, like it or not, you're stuck with the budget you have and you're going to have to make the best of it. You'll start focusing on the things that really matter (you're marrying the love of your life!) and think less about the things you can't afford (no one is going to remember that you didn't serve steak).
Get through it by...putting on your fancy clothes, having a glass of champagne, and remembering that if you end the day married, your wedding will have been a success.
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