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Wedding planner explains the biggest budget mistakes couples make

Alyssa Pry
Personal Finance Reporter

For couples planning a wedding, the details and drama leading up to the big day can take away from what should be a fun experience, says Jove Meyer, founder of Jove Meyer Events, a full-service event planning company in New York.

“Planning a wedding should not be like buying a home, it should not be like planning a funeral,” he says. “It should be fun and there should be champagne, not all this crazy psychotic family mess and stress and anger.”

Because couples spend so much time and money planning every detail of their day, Meyer says the experience is emotional and he’s often seen the worst of brides and grooms. However, those overblown reactions aren’t necessary.

“There are so many stereotypes about the bride-zilla or groom-zilla or the crazy mom, and in some reality, those people do exist and those feelings do come,” he says. “But I don't like using terminology like that because I think it allows an excuse for people to act in a certain way that's not acceptable.”

Instead, Meyer says couples should always remember what the day is actually about: the love in the room and why you’re getting married in the first place.

“At the end of the day, you can choose to absorb it or let it go,” he says. “If you can let go of all the crazy opinions that will come your way and focus on your relationship and what matters, then your celebration will be incredible.”

Meyer works with his clients from the initial planning stages until the very end of their wedding day. Meyer says his clients spend anywhere from $800-$1200 per person on their wedding head counts, but that can go much higher, because the sky's the limit when it comes to wedding planning.

“If you want a quarter of a million dollars in flowers, you can get it,” he says with a laugh.

If you’re working with a smaller budget or aren’t working with a wedding planner, Meyer offers his tips for how to make your celebration stand out.

Find lower cost options

Meyer says there are endless ways to save on a wedding—it just comes down to your priorities and what your budget will allow.

“Something’s got to give if your goals are bigger than what your budget allows,” he says. Swapping paper invitations for digital versions, using candle centerpieces instead of flowers, choosing a DJ over and band, or picking an off-season like winter or mid-summer will help you cut back on your budget, Meyer says.

Additionally, Meyer recommends finding vendors who have started out 1-3 years ago as opposed to more established businesses. These newer vendors might not have the experience that dictates higher costs. But remember to do your research so you feel comfortable with who you hire, he says.

“At the end of the day, if you love their personality and the price is right, then I say do it,” Meyer says. “But also trust in the process and trust in the professional you hired.”

Consider hiring vendors with less experience to save money on wedding costs.

Prioritize your vendors

Meyer tells his clients to prioritize their vendors from most important to least important, in order to decide where the bulk of your wedding budget should go.

“How you prioritize is where you should put your money, so if food is the most important thing, then that's going to be where you're going to spend the bulk of your money,” he says.

By prioritizing early on, you’ll be more focused on what’s most important to you, and know how much you can spend.

Stick to your budget

Setting your budget and sticking to it will save you huge headaches down the line, Meyer says.

“I think there are different ballparks of wedding budgets and I think you have to find the team that's in your price point and feel comfortable playing there rather than reaching above what you can actually afford,” Meyer says.

Ask your vendors questions like what are the budgets their other clients have and what is the average amount they spend. And be upfront about what you can spend so you know if it’s in your price range and don’t get swept up in what “could have been.”

“It’s absolutely fair to be upfront and honest with your vendor, but it’s really on you as a couple simply to ask,” Meyer says.

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