Your budget is one of the first things that you should sit down and discuss with one another before planning begins. The budget can and will cause the most stress during the planning process, especially when other parties are involved so having the conversation right away is a must.
1. Where you wed. Your wedding location will play a leading role in the creation of your budget. Venues that are in popular areas or major metropolitan areas will charge more. Venues also have different policies that you'll need to consider. For example, some require for you to use their preferred wedding vendors, some of which might not fit within your budget. You might have a designated budget of $3,500 for your photographer, but the venue you love requires you to use theirs who charges $4,500 to start. The majority of them also have minimum catering requirement. Sure, you can swing $150 per person for a food and beverage package for your 75 person wedding ($11,250), but wait...the venue requires a $20,000 minimum to even use their space. And don't forget the service fees on top of that. On average you will pay a service surcharge of 20-23% + 18% gratuity + your standard sales tax. Getting married during peak season? Add $3,000-$10,000 to the base package rate.
2. Time of the year. Wedding seasons make a big difference to costs. Planning to get married on a Saturday in the fall? Chances are you're going to end up paying a lot more for your wedding. Look at your budget and how it fits in with the venue and location you have in mind and whether you can move your wedding to another season or day of the week to save on costs. Vendors occasionally do offer discounts for off-peak days and seasons.
3. The number of guests. This is one area that can very easily get out of control. Your guests are going to take up a large portion of your budget so it pays to be sensible about who you're inviting. Most venues will charge you for everything from drinks and food to the chair your guest is sitting on so think twice about inviting your aunt who you haven't seen in 15 years. Agree on how many guests you want to invite and stick to it.
Carefully plan your finances before you even begin planning your wedding. And we cannot stress this enough, hire a wedding planner. They are worth their weight in gold and can help you find better prices and keep you on track financially.