Nothing is more helpful, yet also potentially incredibly stressful, when planning your dream wedding than budgeting. The reality is that very few brides actually have an unlimited wedding budget. So, whether your budget is more than ample for your dream wedding or you are gathering creative DIY ways to save, or whether you are paying for the wedding yourself or Dad’s footing the bill, it’s always a good idea to come out under budget. Sometimes this can be much more easily said than done, especially if you are working with tighter parameters. But, while there are all kinds of ways brides can save a few pennies here and there, there are several key pitfalls that can cause brides to blow their budget much more easily. So, check out these three fabulous tips to help you stick to your budget and still have your dream Tennessee wedding.

Bride showing lots of emotion as she opens wedding gift.

1. Make sure you actually set a budget…BEFORE you begin planning.

This may sound like a no-brainer, but surprisingly many brides make the mistake of beginning to plan their wedding before they establish their budget. Now, it is not a bad idea to begin getting a good sense of what services cost in your area to help you set a realistic budget; however, if you begin falling in love with certain venues or plan your entire floral decor without giving any thought to dollar signs, you can end up getting disappointed if your dreams don’t fit within the budget you eventually set. Even worse, some brides never actually set a budget at all. Like I said, it is rare that a bride does not have to think about a budget or how much each element costs. More commonly, brides feel comfortable enough sticking to a very general number, but without a specifically set budget, it can be much easier to exceed a general price range without realizing it until it is too late. So, in order to come out under budget, brides need to make sure they actually set a specific, realistic budget before they ever dare to begin planning.

Also, if you plan to hire a professional wedding planner, this can be a great resource for helping you stay within your budget. But, please remember, it is your planner’s job to create the wedding you’ve always dreamed of, but, in the end, the bride is in charge and what you say goes. Therefore, brides have to be in control of the budget themselves…not anyone else.

Couple leaving evening wedding reception.

2. Limit your guest list to a reasonable number for your budget.

When the bride and groom and their families begin making their preliminary guest list, it is most likely going to be much longer than you expected…or wanted, for that matter. One of the biggest mistakes brides can make when planning around their budget is inviting too many guests. While brides often think of their catering and the associated per-head costs, they often forget other areas that their guest list will affect, even down to the smallest details. The size of your wedding will ultimately determine the venue size, how many tents you may need for an outdoor wedding, how many wedding favors you have to order or make, how many tables and chairs you need to rent, and so on and so on.

When it comes to reducing the size of your guest list, really consider who you want to be there on your special day. Do you really need your friend from high school who you haven’t spoken to in over a decade to be there? Or, isn’t that friend of a friend, who you never really talk to outside of group settings, more of an acquaintance? Consider everyone on your list, co-workers, church members or even people in different settings that you have often spoken to about your wedding. While you want to avoid skipping out on guests that assume they are invited, no one can blame a bride or groom for having to cut their guest list in order to stay on budget, as long as you do so tactfully and reasonably.

Large number of guests at Tennessee wedding reception.

3. Avoid accidental overspending with DIY projects and vendor specials.

Many brides use creative Do-it-Yoursef projects, as well as bulk deals or great specials with different vendors, to help them stay under budget as they plan their wedding. While these can be fabulous options for some brides, they might not work for everyone. In some instances, opting to choose a lot of DIY options can mean that you do not receive insurance or the security that comes with professional vendor contracts. Of course, these may not be necessary in the end, but if you get in a situation where they are needed, it can save you a lot of money by having them. Brides also often forget that they do not have the professional staff to set up their DIY projects on the wedding day, causing the day to be more stressful and busy than necessary. In addition, when taking advantage of these type of projects or even specials offered by your professional vendors, brides can fall into the trap of “more is better.” Just because something is cheaper does not mean you have to buy double the amount or put the entire savings into another planning element. After all, you are trying to save money overall.

DIY tablescapes at country Tennessee wedding reception.

All images courtesy of Waldorf Photographic Art.