By: Meghan Cease, M. Elizabeth Events
I generally take 3 steps toward making sure my clients are at ease and confident that the money they put toward their wedding will be maximized. The truth is their decision to hire and work with a planner/consultant already puts them 10 steps ahead of the game and the rest depends on proper research/education, realistic estimation and risk identification/management. My process usually includes the following:
1. Research/Education - After a couple has decided on a budget, it's very important to take it a step further and research exactly what wedding costs are in their area. Depending on what style or type event is to be planned each spending category can vary widely. For instance with food, a couple looking to hold a small gathering could find an upscale restaurant offering a family-style dinner with open bar and a wedding cake for $50 per person while a couple looking to host their guests at a historic country club and first-class service could expect a $85 per person price tag.
2. Realistic Estimation - One should never assume that it's impossible to host a large guest list without an equally large budget. There are many ways to keep costs down, but careful planning is crucial. I develop estimates of all wedding costs for my clients so there are clear benchmarks set to work toward. Managing priorities will be very important as well. For instance, if photography is an important aspect of the event, for preservation reasons, and the couple also insists that the food be an area of "splurge" then it will be important to know that up front to scale other services accordingly. Working with a wedding planner will REALLY come in handly here, as we are equipped to offer clever and creative ideas for achieving grandeur on a smaller budget.
3. Risk Identification/Management - After a budget has been set, developing and maintaining it is key. I work together with my clients to scrupulously update and organize their budget. It's imperative that the planner and client are always aware of what has been spent, what balances exist and what the areas of risk could be. During the last month/weeks before a wedding there are usually huge sums due to vendors and venues, so if a couple is not prepared this could cause lots of unnecessary stress. Proper management alleviates most surprises and surprise debt.