a few months ago, a friend of mine (niki from [breathless moments]), wrote a blog post about some common misconceptions regarding “inflation” in wedding vendor prices. although most vendors do everything they can to keep their prices reasonable, many newly engaged couples are taken by surprise at the actual cost of elements for the “wedding of their dreams.” read niki’s full post [here].

many times my clients honestly have no idea about what to budget for custom stationery. others unfortunately gather an inaccurate picture from information that they find online.

let me explain by using this great post from [www.bridesmagazine.co.uk] as a reference. although the list is written with a different currency (£, which has a current exchange rate of 1£=2 CAD), the author does a fantastic job of outlining many of the expected and not-so-expected things that a couple should incorporate into their wedding budget. that being said, i believe that there is a critical piece of information missing from this breakdown—what is the average number of guests they are basing these prices on? why should this matter? well, the number of invited/attending guests can dramatically change the costs for almost everything on your budget.

don’t believe me? try this: make a two-column list. label one column “will the number of participants effect the budget price?” and the other “yes/no”. then list away! (an example of a “yes” would be, a wedding caterer’s final invoiced price will be different for 100 guests than for 200 guests. an example of a “no” would be your wedding dress.)

as a stationer, i frequently have clients come to me with a stationery budget that i would apply to 50-75 invitation sets, and expect that same budget to stretch to produce 125-150 of their desired invitation sets. this is, in some cases, over double the quantity of invitations that their budget can handle!

as you can see, without this critical piece of information posted alongside these “average breakdown” lists, couples can be falsely equipped with unrealistic expectations for their wedding vendors.

my recommendations to save the “piggy bank”

many couples quickly categorize their budget and purchase the bigger ticket items (the dress, the venue and the photographer) right away. this sometimes leaves little for other things on their list, and lots of frustration that they cannot afford other things that they want.

i recommend a different approach:

when starting to work on your budget, create the above mentioned list and order items in rank of importance or priority. (if you are happy with purchased silk flowers instead of hiring a florist, then flowers would be on the lower end of the list. if that designer wedding dress is a MUST, then put that at the top.)

find your “maximum budget” amount and create a fluid budget. so, instead of blocking out max amounts for each item without knowing reality prices, allow your funds to float to different items as you ranked them on your list.

get quotes for everything as early as you can. when you receive these quotes, review them and allocate funds from your fluid budget as required before you make the majority of your purchases. this will help eliminate some of the sticker shock that you may feel when the service price is higher (or sometimes lower) than you had first anticipated. if a priority item is a higher price than expected, reallocate some funds from a lower priority item to make it work.

remember, the main priority at the end of the day, is that you are marrying your best friend! everything else is just icing on the cake.