Discussion of the recent economic downturn is pervasive. You hear about it on the radio and TV. You read about it in newspapers, magazines and on the Internet. It has, to whatever degree, affected everyone. So needless to say, the very first word out of every bride's mouth is BUDGET. Different aspects of weddings have different meanings and values for different people. Where the food may be important to one bride, the band is more important to another. Most of the time people have ideas of budgets for various aspects of their event in the back of their mind. Now it's in the forefront! So the trick is in laying out your budget to fit what's most important to you while being even handed in planning the overall event. In other words...
Don't blow your budget on your dress and then skimp on everything else.
Do set a realistic budget before you purchase/book anything.
Don't expect vendors to cut their prices because you spent $5000 on your dress. This goes across the board. If you booked the most lavish, expensive hotel, don't cut every other corner or the event will feel obviously cheapened. And I caution people to not make decisions based solely on the cost of something if possible. There are ways to scale back without settling for something second rate. Lay out your budget and expect that some things will cost a little more, but not so much that you'll end up being entertained by Uncle Fred's boom box at the Ritz.
Be realistic. If you can't afford a splashy evening affair at the grandest ballroom in town, a lovely cocktail party at an interesting venue like an art gallery might be more appropriate for you. Or perhaps something that reflects an important aspect of you and your fiancé's life. If you are foodies, maybe an intimate dinner in the private room of one of your favorite restaurants would be the thing. If you are outdoorsy types, why not a party at an arboretum? But remember to always have indoor contingency plans for any outdoor event in case of inclement weather!
If you do book the ballroom, perhaps have your ceremony there as well. This will cut the cost of the ceremony site and the need for special transportation ie. limousines, trolleys, horse drawn carriages, etc. And again, scaling back from a full sit down dinner to an elegant cocktail reception might be a better plan. Just remember to be clear on your invitations, so guests know what to expect. I have a friend who was more than a little miffed when - having spent money on airfare, a hotel stay, car rental and a nice gift - was offered only cake, grape Kool-Aid (the bride and groom thought it would be humorous apparently) and tepid Sanka at the reception.
Decorating weddings and special events over the years, I've often helped clients with other aspects of their events besides the decorating. I want to share that information and advice with you. I also want to highlight other event vendors whose work I like and different local venues. I invite you to ask questions as well.