Big Wedding, Small Budget

Letting Go of the Budget

on December 10, 2012

Obviously, the budget is a huge part of this wedding. I mean, it’s part of the name of this blog, right? We’ve had to make many of our wedding choices based on budget, both for financial and more philosophical reasons. And anyone who knows me in real life knows what a tightwad I am. I’m the one who agonizes over a five dollar eye shadow purchase at Walgreens. I’m the one who comparison shops for everything online before buying. I’m the one who gets such a rush from saving money that I have a separate spreadsheet in Excel for wedding savings, with a chart that actually fills up as I save money.

So it may surprise you to learn, then, that I haven’t been tracking my wedding expenses and expenditures. I haven’t been adding up the totals, and I haven’t been counting the nickels and dimes (and more!) that have gone into the wedding so far. In fact, I’ve pretty much let go of thinking about the budget. And that might just be my best wedding-related decision so far.

When we first got engaged, I pored over sample wedding budgets online. I plugged in and adjusted numbers into The Knot’s budget calculator. I looked through wedding blogs looking for the budgets of real weddings, trying to figure out how much this thing was going to cost us. I made pie charts, graphs, and fancy budget spreadsheets with all of our potential totals.

This was really helpful at first. By doing all that math at the start, I was able to budget for the venue, catering, dress, and photographer, the biggest expenses. I knew I had to fit those into the budget I had set. And I did, pretty much (after a serious reality check). But when it comes to the smaller things, like invitations, a Ketubah, kipot, shoes, accessories, and more, I have just been trying to spend as little as possible to get what I want. I’ve been trying not to sacrifice too much quality, but I’ve been sticking to financially responsible decisions and remembering that more expensive doesn’t necessarily mean better.

All of those little purchases add up. So it’s been important for me to keep thinking of this as a budget wedding (which it definitely is) and to try to keep expenses down. But constantly adding up the numbers doesn’t accomplish anything except stressing me out. I realized early on that if I kept looking at the money spent total on the spreadsheet, it was going to be an anxious 15 months of wedding planning.

So, I made a command decision to trust myself with wedding spending. My everyday life doesn’t include a budget. I’m such a low spender that I almost always have money left over at the end of the month. I’ve trusted myself to keep spending in check every day of my adult life so far, so why shouldn’t I trust myself when it comes to wedding spending? (Hint: consumerist pressure on brides is ridiculous. Look for another post about that.) When I do, both myself and my savings account are a lot happier.

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