Wedding Guide: Setting a budget

Plan ahead to stay in line with your celebration’s expenses

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— You won’t hear wedding bells unless you budget for them beforehand.

Even if your nuptials pale in comparison to those hosted by celebrities in Los Angeles and New York City, you still have to plan it down to every penny. Setting a budget early and not straying from it will afford you a stress-free celebration.

But it’s still a major expense. The average Steamboat wedding, says wedding planner Jill Waldman of The Main Event, costs about $25,000 (about 25 season passes, for those of you into such conversion). However, there are

many ways to bring those costs down.

The easiest way to reduce expenses is to keep a tight guest list. “The most incongruous expectation of brides and grooms is their budget versus the number of guests they expect to have,” Waldman says. “Think about who you’re inviting and why.”

This doesn’t mean you have to ignore them, especially if they live locally. There are plenty of more affordable ways to involve acquaintances and others in the celebration, including hosting a pre-ceremony or post-honeymoon party, perhaps with a slideshow and wine.

“Come up with a way to include those people in a more casual, less expensive setting,” Waldman says.

Other ways to save include having a ceremony and/or reception outdoors, finding an affordable, yet well-referenced caterer who can work within your means, choosing a reception location that lets you bring your own booze, and possibly forsaking that five-piece band.

But while frugality can go a long way, also remember that it is your special day to remember for a lifetime. So don;t be afraid to spend where it’s needed. While cost is important, it shouldn’t be stressful. And your happiness with your celebration is the most important consideration of all.

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