You have spent the first few weeks of your engagement showing off the ring, boasting to your pals and basically floating through your workday.
But it is time to get serious.
And trust me, ladies ... this ain't fun.
In fact, it is probably the least fun aspect of wedding planning. But let's face it... it has to be done and the earlier this task is completed, the more time you will have for tracking down the elements you need to make your wedding day special.
So without procrastinating another day - here are four tips to help you set your wedding budget.
1. Pool Your Resources
Have a meeting with each person who will be contributing to your wedding fund and see how much they plan to kick in. While some people still rely on the old-school system that stripped the bride's family of a year's salary, modern couples are spreading the wealth ... or, well the debt.
See where your families stand. Some parents happily hand over a blank check, while others might offer to pick up the tab for a specific aspect of the wedding, such as photography or floral.
2. Divvy it Up
Now that you have a number to work with, you need to determine what percentage of your budget will go to each category. For example, the general rule is that 10% of your overall budget is usually spent on flowers, however every couple has different priorities and costs vary greatly from state to state.
For help in allocating your budget, I like the budget calculator at WeddingChannel.com. It is extremely thorough and you can enter your estimated budget, guest headcount and number of attendants and they do the rest.
3. Get Creative
So what are you going to do if you have pooled your resources and divvied up the dough and you don't have enough in the pool for your ideal wedding? Well, until money starts sprouting from the tree outside your bedroom window - and if it does ... hook me up! - you might be tempted to max out credit cards or dip into your savings.
I know you have heard it before, but please.don't.do.this. Instead, get creative and think of ways you can earn extra cash that can be used exclusively for your wedding. Are you a trained musician? If so, consider giving private lessons in the evenings or on weekends. Are you near a college or university? Check with their testing center to see if they are hiring part-time proctors. The idea here isn't to borrow more money for your wedding - but to make more money.
4. Stay Positive
Believe me, I know it's easy to get depressed when you look at your budget calculator, find a new checklist or realize you have forgotten expenses like attendant gifts, bridesmaid's lunch or your hair and nail appointments. However, the key to wedding planning - regardless of what stage you are in - is to stay positive.
Remember, millions of women have gone through this before and have lived to tell heartwarming tales and inspirational stories of their wedding days. Tell your fiance when you feel stressed and chances are he will have you relaxed in no time ... and it will be easy to remember why you said "yes" in the first place.
Everyone has different budget priorities. When I got married, my priorities were food, reception location and atmosphere. What are some of your priorities?
Images courtesy of ken@okinawa