Friday, June 15, 2012

Yikes... The Budget Talk

Let's start at the beginning of planning: the budget talk. It's important to know for background purposes that I'd like to be under $15,000 for our entire wedding. Considering that the national average is $25,000 and the average for our county is $31,000, I thought that was a pretty good amount. That also means everyone should be contributing around $5,000 -- a little more, a little less, depending on what they're paying for and how many dresses/tuxes each family will be purchasing to wear the day of.

But that yikes in the title doesn't even begin to cover this whole wedding budget thing.

Let me explain:
We had two families to discuss the wedding budget with, mine and Mr. Otter's. We will also be  contributing to the wedding. So I took the total range I'd like to be in and divided that up between us. The plan was my parents would take the venue, catering, and bar, and Mr. Otter's parents would take the florist and photography. In my mind, I thought that was a pretty even split, considering that traditionally, the bride's parents SHOULD pay for the entire wedding. Okay, settled. I thought we would talk about it with each of them, determine if they were okay with those amounts, and then go from there.

To say we had two very different experiences doesn't even begin to cover it.

We met with Mr. Otter's parents about a week ago, and told them that we'd like them to take on the costs of the florals, photography, and of course their attire for the day of. They were pleasantly surprised: they thought we were going to ask them for quite a bit more. Done. We went to dinner and enjoyed the rest of our evening and that was that.

My family on the other hand.... I can't (and won't) even repeat the whole story because I'm doing my best to forget it ever happened. Basically, I didn't think we would have a sit down with my family. My mom actually recommended one of the venues we like (our top choice) and spoke to their event coordinator before passing their information along to me, so I presumed that the venue price range was good to go. In my mind, I thought that equated to being fine with that amount. Oh, how wrong I was.

On Thanksgiving day I had round 1 with my dad, a full on screaming match. The phrases "Kardashian-style wedding" and "[he] would be the only person paying for anything" were both thrown out there. So not only am I ridiculous, but nobody else can contribute? Unacceptable. Eventually, things calmed down and he told me not to freak out, we'd work it out and everything would be fine. We ate our Thanksgiving dinner and afterward, I asked my mom when we should discuss it again. (I wanted to book the venue in January, and to look at venues at our appointments December 5th, we need a dollar amount. It needed to be discussed.) She basically told me that after the shenanigans earlier in the day, I shouldn't bring it up. I disagreed. Eventually, I ended up having round 2 with my mom. Things once again calmed down, and we moved on. I showed them the dress I like, the color scheme we had chosen, and a few other details. It also came out that they don't want to have a bar at the reception because of my dad's history with alcohol. Totally understandable, but could've been discussed without the screaming match.

The next morning, I confirmed again with my mom that the amount they told me on Thanksgiving post fights ($5,000 for the venue and the catering) was the number they were comfortable with. She said she'd prefer it to be even lower than that, if at all possible. *sigh* At that point, I just said okay, I guess we'll see what we can do and left it at that. 

For future brides, here are a few lessons I've learned from this whole situation:
1. Assume nothing. While my mom saw the venue price, she didn't read the fine print that said it didn't include rentals. I should have confirmed the total price with her to avoid that portion of our argument.
2. Stand up for yourself and what you want since you may only be doing this once. I have to be honest, I definitely wasn't as nice as I could have been about the budget talk with my family. I only plan to have one wedding, so I want it to be exactly what we want. That doesn't mean we need to spend millions on it, but I do want to look back in ten years and think how "us" it was, not how we should've just ponied up the extra $1,000 to get the venue we really wanted.
3. If you really want something at your wedding, make it happen. Mr. Otter and I have both discussed getting second jobs, or at the very least, scrimping by for the next few months to save up. We want what we want, and we'll make it happen.

Other brides: what tips do you have for the whole budget situation? And more importantly - am I the only one that had a conversation that went this horribly awry?

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