Budget Advice from a Planner

Here at CHI thee WED, we’ve gotten a TON of questions about wedding budgets! I’m happy to share some advice that I always share with clients when we start talking budgets.

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Written by Olivia of Olive Fine Weddings & Events

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  1. Start your guest list. I know this part really sucks and so many couples put this off as long as possible, but just do it. You don’t want to be budgeting unrealistically for a party of 150 when you’re going to have more like 250. Start with different groups – immediate family, extended family, each of your friend groups, parents’ friends, etc. You don’t have to be wedded to the list you come up with now, but you definitely need a ballpark. Expect that 10-25% of your list will RSVP “no”

  2. Set expectations. Sit down with your families and figure out who is covering what. Maybe you’re covering everything (amazing!), and you want to let your families know. Or maybe the bride’s parents want to cover everything, as is traditional. (PS: couples are doing all sorts of variations these days – it’s all okay, as long as expectations are set!) Listen, gather opinions, and decide as a couple what is going to work for you. And then be crystal clear about it.

  3. Communicate. When finances are involved, people can be touchy. Be open, and communicate, communicate, communicate!

  4. Be honest about what matters most to you. Must have a live band? Must have a top-notch photographer? Share that and budget accordingly.

  5. Be creative. For example, if you want that dream venue that eats up a good portion of your budget, talk with caterers about doing something creative to save money. Maybe you do his / hers cocktails instead of a full open bar. Or, perhaps you outsource dessert. Ask your vendors to provide some creative ideas to help you save some dough.

Friends, know that there is no perfect formula. People always ask me “how much does it cost to get married in Chicago?”. Well, shoot! It depends – are you having an intimate but luxe affair? Are you having a huge wedding but doing everything on a budget? Start talking to vendors. Visit venues, talk to caterers and start building out a comparison. And don’t stress! It’s so hard not to let the question of money get into your head. It’s all going to work out. Be flexible!

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Community Vendors:
Planning and Coordination: Olive Fine Weddings & Events
Cake: ECBG Studio

Event Design, Styling, Stationery, Signage: Stone Fruit
Venue: Kimpton Hotel Allegro Chicago
Photographer: Allie Appel Photography
Videographer: Floating Home Films
Rentals: Tablescapes Chicago
Velvet Linen: BBJ Linen
Florist: Persephone Floral Atelier
Fine Jewelry: Cottage Jewelry Evanston
First Look // Ceremony Gown: Alice in Ivory (designer Alexandra Grecco)
Reception Gown: Sarah Varca Bridal
Bridesmaids' Dresses: Bella Bridesmaids Chicago
Groom's attire: Formally Modern Tuxedo
Hair (Bride + Bridesmaids): Alexa Grace of Zazu Salons
Makeup (Bride + Bridesmaids): Makeup by Mandy
Models // Real Couple: Emily Sanders and Jorge Silva