If there is one thing about a wedding that causes the most angst, discussions and compromises, it is the BUDGET! Whether you have a budget of $50,000 or $500,000, this is where we see the most frustration because of the lack of knowledge and distrust for the wedding market. We admit, our industry is not that great in publicly sharing the costs associated to getting married in Chicago. Nor are we vocal about sharing that the profit margin for the industry is minimal, at best. Most of the businesses in the Chicago wedding market are small to medium-size businesses that are not looking to over-charge you; rather they want to exceed your expectations on the product or service that you are receiving from them, all while employing others and running a legitimate business.
Budget is the thing no one wants to talk about, but it is crucial to understand the restrictions or parameters that you have when booking all of your event professionals. It’s time to start talking about the numbers and that is why we will have a monthly feature to highlight how you can be more informed about your investment for your big celebration.
Here are our tips for having your initial budget discussion:
- Discuss what your comfort threshold is for the entire wedding.
- Prioritize the things you want to remember about the wedding. For a lot of couples, this is food & beverage, music and photography. The elements that are the most important and what you want to remember is where you want to invest more of you money.
- Discuss who will contribute to paying for the wedding.
You may not have everything figured out around your budget, but your next step is to talk with and hire a wedding planner to help you understand the total cost of getting married in Chicago. You wouldn’t sell or buy a home without working with a licensed realtor, right? Trusting a professional wedding planner to guide you through the process of planning will be the best investment you make on your wedding. If you begin the process without fully knowing the Chicago market, you can actually harm your budget because you are not aware of all of the additional expenses to make your dream day come to life.
Maybe you are envisioning a downtown hotel ballroom wedding for 200 people, a 12 piece band, and a professional photographer…right there you have committed to at least $65,000. Perhaps you want to opt for a museum or raw space in Chicago, but just know that there are not that many savings once you add up the venue rental, catering and table/chair/linen rentals that you have to secure to have your wedding in that event space.
The final step in preparing your budget is to determine how many people you would like to be a guest at your wedding. All professionals will tell you that the biggest factor to your wedding budget is your guest list. It’s the absolute truth. If, after the first four steps, you find yourself with a more limited budget for Chicago, then you will have to have the conversation about either reducing your guest count or increasing your comfort threshold to pay for your guests. No matter what you decide always use your highest guest count when budgeting as it’s better to have “leftover money” in the end than having to come up with extra funds to cover guests you thought weren’t going to be able to make it.
This is a time of joy and celebration for you as a couple, and in order to keep that feeling throughout your planning process, you will want to be well-informed and have a trusted friend to guide you through your decisions.