My sister was recently married. The day was absolutely incredible! Many memories were made by all. Being the sister, and the Maid of Honor, I was able to see the many bumps in the road, that went along with creating the day she had always dreamed of.

Planning a wedding can be, and most likely will be, the most fun and the most frustrating experience you will ever have, all wrapped up into one! Weddings can get very expensive, very quickly! Although there are many ways to cut costs, it is important to figure out a budget prior to getting started. You don’t want things to spiral out of control, and cause any unnecessary stress during the planning stages.

Make a list of EVERYTHING that you feel is important for your big day. This detailed list will feature everything from your dress, drinks at the reception, officiant and chapel fees, decorations, flowers, gifts, rings, catering… you get the point! All the”‘wedding bells and whistles” should be included. Sit down with everyone that is going to help you financially, and review the list. This should include you and your fiance, your parents, his parents, grandparents, and friends of the family that may be contributing. Use your discretion when you decide whether or not to gather all of these people together at one time to discuss finances. You know best if this could potentially cause any unnecessary arguments. If necessary, meet with them separately to keep the peace.

On the list, mark who will be responsible for each item. Keep in mind that they will probably have a limit on how much they will be able to give to you and your fiance. It will help to make a separate page, breaking down each party, the amounts they would like to contribute, and a list of the items they would like to offer.

Now it’s time to start making phone calls! I’m sure if you are of the age to be married, you both have a few places in mind where you would like to hold your event. Call them to get their deposit requirements, and when the balances are due. Call florists, officiants, churches, photographers, etc., etc. Do a lot of research on the internet to find the best prices, and make sure that you pay attention to feedback in chat rooms or forum pages. Friends that have been married, and people that have had experience with wedding planning are also great resources. They may help you save money, and connect you to the people that will make your day memorable! Once you have some idea on the cost, you can plug in the amounts to your list. This will give you a better idea of what you can keep, and where you will need to cut back. You may need your mother or a bridesmaid to help you with this, as you may find it difficult to rate the importance of the items on your list!

Refer to your budget constantly. This will help you stick to your plan, and relieve some of the stress, while planning your dream wedding. At this point, you can start to book dates and facilities, try on dresses, and meet with florists or photographers. Keep in mind, if you are married to the person you wish to spend the rest of your life with, at the end of the day, your mission will have been accomplished, and the rest is mere detail. Most importantly, have fun! This is your day, enjoy it!

by Penny Olson