First, congratulations on your recent engagement! What follows next? With the excitement from your engagement, it might overwhelm you with how and where to begin your planning; and that is very understandable. Especially, since it will be the biggest event, you will ever have to plan.

From my experience, here are four steps to take before you start your wedding planning.

Step 1: Determine the type of wedding you want.

Are we talking indoor, outdoor, destination, church, old train station, castle on the coast, White Castle? If you’re having trouble deciding, start with your guest list. That number could help you pick a location. You can’t fit 500 friends and family members in a woodland treehouse wedding.

Of course, one of the quickest ways to save money is to limit your guest list. But maybe tons of people celebrating your big day is your number one wedding wish. That brings us to the next point.

Step 2: Resolve your non-negotiables.

As a couple, determine what you want out of your wedding day. What are your top three most important wedding dreams? Food, flowers and filmography? Live band, location and lavender tuxedos?

Hey, before you say “I do” to the rest of your lives together, you’ve got a lot of other I dos to figure out: I do want the chocolate-ganache-covered cake with fondant orchids, for example.

After you pick your top three, think about what’s not important. Keep your most and least valuable dreams at the top of your minds as you begin to take the third, and biggest, step.

Step 3: Budget for the wedding of your affordable dreams.

Does that sound sort of . . . um . . . unromantic? It shouldn’t!

Starting a life together is beautiful. But starting the union off by draining a savings account or going into debt to impress yourself, your friends or your family—now that’s unromantic. Instead, give your wedding budget a realistic number that you can afford while covering everything you want out of your big day.

Step 4: Have the budget talk with family.

In the past, etiquette told us exactly what roles the parents of the bride and groom played—including who paid for what. But this is 2021.

Maybe it’s because couples wait later to marry (the average age people get married now is 32) and they’re expected to have their personal finances in a decent place. Whatever the reason, the average couple pays for about half of the wedding cost these days. How are they paying? Well, couples use savings (45%), cash (38%), checking account (37%), and credit cards (32%), or some combination of those

You’ll need to have a conversation with your parents about their role in your wedding. And remember, they don’t owe you anything here. But if they’re willing to help out, it’s good to know how much they want to contribute.

It may help to know what couples spend on average as you shape your budget.

Author: Ramsey Solutions