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In today's society...the "ize" have it. We must prioritize, compromise and sacrifice to have a successful event that doesn't break the bank. Afterall, you want to remember your wedding as a source of joy, not of debt.
1) Find out who will be paying for your wedding and how much they can afford. You should establish your "bottom-line" first.
2) The next step is to fill in a sample budget with "guess-timates." For example, if your bottom line is $10,000, you would allow $1,500 for photography, $600 for a dress, $500 for flowers, $300 for a cake, $300 for stationary, $5000 for reception etc.
3) Now get actual estimates. Get at least three for each item and put them on a budget spreadsheet.
4) And now the difficult part! If you are like most people..what you want and what you can afford are
two separate things. Get together with your fiance and prioritize. Figure out what are the most important elements of your wedding and put your money there.
5) You will be amazed at how different your ideas are from your groom-to-be's. Get ready for your first lesson in matrimonial bliss... compromise!
6) Sadly, no matter how much you "do-it-yourself," you will probably still have to minimize in a couple of areas. A good place to start is the guest list. Also, changing the reception from dinner to a brunch or an evening cocktail party or dessert reception can take a sizeable chunk off of your reception total.
Be prepared to have an open mind and be imaginative. You should still be able to pull off the wedding of your dreams within a realistic budget!