We are about four months away from our wedding, and finalizing the last half of planning. When I first proposed to my fiancee, I thought I had a decent idea of what to expect regarding wedding planning. I had observed both my older sisters get married when I was younger. However, even though I thought I knew a few things about the wedding planning process, I still got caught off guard on a few things. Here is a list of 5 things that caught me off guard when planning my wedding.
# 1 Guest Count makes the most significant difference
Generally, I found that the majority of wedding costs depends on the number of guests that you invite. Some expenses don’t depend on your number of guests – such as Photographer or Videographer; however, virtually everything else bases their prices on the number of guests that you have – Food & Drinks, Transportation, Food staff, Bartenders, Rentals, etc.
When we first got engaged, we got excited about wanting to share the day with our friends and family. However, because we both have large families, we quickly realized that we would struggle with keeping the guest count low.
We also both have a close group of friends in our wedding party. So due to our friends and our large family’s guest list rose to 200 guests.
The extensive guest list is the main reason why our wedding costs grew higher than expected.
#2 Expenses around Catering, Alcohol, Food Staff, and Bartenders
We were a bit shocked when we received our quotes four the Catering/Alcohol-related costs. Our first quote was for over $17k for all the food and drink-related prices. Yikes!
The most significant expense so far for us is the cost of the staff and bartenders. Since we are having a Catholic church wedding, we have an extended timeline (Our actual wedding starts at 2 pm, and the reception begins at 4 pm). The longer timeframe has caused us to pay for the staff to work for an extra 2hrs, which has inflated costs.
Ways we are trying to reduce this cost is:
- Buying bulk alcohol during local sales, rather than purchasing an alcohol package from the caterer or venue
- Lowering the cost per plate for food
#3 Wedding Planners want to use vendors they worked with before
Wedding planners main job to make sure you have a successful wedding. They want to have a great event so they can share the results on their social media pages and potentially get a testimonial page on their website. They want to make sure that you are happy but can also continue building their business.
I found out that they will try to save you the most money in the process; however, tend not to recommend other vendors that may be cheaper because:
- It’s risky for them to work with someone new
- They know what to expect with the vendors they recommend
So far, I have experienced our wedding planner recommends high-quality vendors, but also vendors that are higher costs. Despite the advertisement that they will save you money b/c of their connections.
#4 Wedding Gifts
We did plan for wedding gifts but underestimated the number of gifts we needed to buy. We needed to buy gifts for our parents, Bridesmaids (9), Groomsmen (9), wedding sponsors, and more.
We wanted to make sure we provided a special gift for both of our parents so we knew from the beginning that we would spend more on their gifts. However, buying over 20 gifts for our bridesmaids, groomsmen, sponsors brought higher costs to this area than we planned.
#5 Expectations and Emotions
One thing I underestimated is the expectations and emotions of others in the process. During the wedding planning process thus far; many people share opinions on how things should be done. Such as where the wedding should be, who needs to be invited, what food should be served, what is the most important thing to spend on, etc. I have been trying to keep the peace throughout all the requests.
One thing I have been trying to limit is the added costs because of others expectations. It quickly happens when the guest list grows when new guests get added.
I know that people get emotional because they care about us and want everything to go well. So we have remained agreeable to most requests because we want everyone to be happy for our big day.
After a year of wedding planning under our belts, I would admit that we didn’t plan for everything so far. Even though I thought I did a good job planning for the big expenses, there were still some key factors that I didn’t fully understand until I experienced it first hand. Overall, planning our wedding has been a positive experience; however, at times, it has been stressful and anxiety-inducing. Keep in mind the five things I didn’t expect when you are planning your wedding, and you will be one more step ahead of the game!