You’re engaged! That’s adorable. Show everyone your ring, make a lot of unnecessary gestures with your left hand, get your friends all curious about who you love enough to ask to be a bridesmaid, start saving your cans.

Seriously. You’re about to get poor.

If you’re lucky enough to have your parents paying for your wedding, congratulations princess, this won’t apply to you. If you’re like me, you’ll be eating a lot of weird combinations of things you have in the fridge and pantry while you wait for the next payday. We won’t be like this for long though. Our wedding was two weeks ago, and we’re looking to be back to normal within a couple of weeks. The goal here is to only get a little bit poor. Just barely poor. Poor-curious.

The first thing you’re going to need is a budget. Whether you’re paying for this glorious day yourself, or you have some help, you need to know what you can realistically afford. This is the kind of boring shit you don’t think about when you’re busy dreaming about how stunning you’ll look in a veil. But, it’s the real of it. It’s going to be your every day. There aren’t a lot of people who are afforded the luxury of an unlimited wedding budget. We made the mistake of starting without one, and for that, I did a lot of math that could have been avoided. We went into this woefully unprepared. Initially, we thought my parents were going to pay for it, they had paid for both of my sisters’ weddings, and I had always been told they were going to pay for mine too. But, times is tough, and we ended up shouldering the majority of the cost. Because of this unexpected development, we had nothing saved up, no bridal war-chest to unlock. Everything was paycheck to paycheck. If you can, start saving now. Every little bit helps to get you just that much further ahead. Luckily, overblown and overdone weddings are way gauche. Glam is the name of the game, tacky is not.

Let’s say you have a budget of $12,000. Some people will think this is a lot, some people will think it’s not. It is a very doable amount though. We shot for $10,000 and ended up somewhere between there and $12,000. Not too bad. In retrospect, there were some things we could have saved on if we had started out with a clearer approach and budget.

So let’s break it down:

Reception – 50% ($6,000): venue, rentals, catering, beverages, cake and misc.

Attire – 10% ($1,200): gown, alterations, headpiece, veil, shoes, jewelry, hair & makeup, groom’s tux and suit, grooms accessories and misc.

Flowers & Decorations – 10% ($1,200): arrangements for ceremony, flower girl’s petals and basket, ring pillow, bride’s bouquet, bridesmaids’ bouquets, boutonnieres, corsages, reception decorations, lighting and misc.

Music – 10% ($1,200): ceremony musicians, cocktail-hour musicians, reception band/deejay or entertainment, sound/dance floor rental and misc.

Photography & Video – 10% ($1,200): photography, videography, additional prints/albums and misc.

Favors & Gifts – 3% ($360): welcome gifts for out-of-town guests, bridal-party gifts and misc.

Ceremony – 2% ($240): site fee, officiant fee or donation, misc.

Stationery – 2% ($240): save the date cards, invitations and RSVPs, programs, seating and place cards, menu cards, thank you cards, postage and misc.

Wedding Rings – 2% ($240): bride’s ring, groom’s ring.

Transportation – 1% ($120): limo for bride and groom, limo for bridal party, transportation for out-of-town guests, valet and misc.

This is compiled from several different wedding budget worksheets. They’re basically all the same. The same percentages, the same purchases, the same everything. These are NOT my recommendations for what you should have at your wedding. Some of these things are so tacky and wasteful, I can’t even stand it. This is what the establishment wants you to buy. THE MAN. Damn the man! And damn these bourgeois trappings! Think about what’s really important to you, what you really want to spend your money on. These percentages aren’t set in stone. Next, I’ll tell you where to cut and where to splurge.

Until then, remember this…

Limousines are for high schoolers and bachelorettes.

Photo: Brian Henderson

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