This may seem strange, coming from a hyper-organized bride like myself, but I'll let you in on a little secret: I'm terrible with money; I loathe budgets; numbers scare me. Now, I'm not in debt, and I'm not broke. I just can't be bothered to balance my checkbook. And I'm a terrible saver. Balancing the books just isn't my thing, so when it came to budgeting for the wedding, the Goodlaffs encountered a few challenges.
When Mr. Goodlaff and I started planning, we came up with a budget. About a month later, we realized that our budget was created in fantasy-land and not really constructed using any knowledge whatsoever of what weddings actually cost. Case in point: the actual amount for catering plus venue rental was almost 70% of our initial budget. Oops.
This is not to say that we couldn't have stuck to our (completely unreal) initial budget, but we were hoping to have a certain kind of wedding that we had no hope of achieving without further loosening our purse strings. We were willing to make adjustments to include a lot of those elements that we really wanted in our big day (like a wedding cake, which, had we gone with the original amount, would never have happened). Our new budget isn't a specific number, but is instead a general budget realm, that will eventually cost us less than the base model of a new Honda Civic.
Still, even with our eyes opened to the massive reach of the Wedding-Industrial-Complex (Eisenhower is rolling over in his grave right about now...), we weren't smart about creating a realistic money plan for our wedding. Sure, there are tons of resources out there to help you create a budget; we even used a few of them. It's how we altered them that has become slightly problematic. See, any good wedding budget worksheet will tell you to budget for rings, for wedding attire (dress, shoes, etc.), and for the honeymoon. Our calculations did not include these things--not because we wouldn't have them, but because Mr. Goodlaff and I consider our wedding-day attire a individual expense. Silly, right? Perhaps. But I wasn't using "our money" to pay for "my" dress. The rings? Again, we excluded it from our wedding budget because I am paying for Mr. Goodlaff's ring, and he is paying for mine. The honeymoon comes after the wedding, so that too came off the list.
This was a dangerous practice, because on paper our new wedding spending plan is totally manageable and planned-for, but in reality, we still have to come up with the money for "our" wedding expenses in addition to each of the items we took out of the budget because we didn't feel they should be a part of it. Basically, our seemingly efficient way of tracking wedding costs is not as effective when we have to pay for catering and wedding jewelry in the same month. The catering was on our spreadsheet, and so it was planned for and saved for. The jewelry? Not on the sheet, and while not necessarily unforeseen, definitely not as carefully considered.
Mr. Goodlaff and I are incredibly lucky to be in a position to first adjust our budget and then be able to handle all the "additional" (i.e.: not on the spreadsheet) expenses; we've gotten help from family as well, which I know that not everyone is fortunate enough to receive. But let me tell you, if we had done our research and budgeted correctly in the first place, we wouldn't have had to make adjustments, and if we'd followed the recommendations of the resources we were using, we would have left the "he pays, she pays" items on the list for reference and organization's sake.
I guess the moral of the story is don't assume you're smarter than the average bear and try to forge your own path. Use your resources (and listen to them); understand that things will cost more than you think they should; be able to prioritize your wants and needs. This has been a huge learning curve for me as a budget-newbie, and I can't say it's been easy or fun, but it's certainly been enlightening.
Will I ever be a budgeter? I doubt it. Will our wedding, even with our little money organization problems, be fabulous? Definitely!
How did you budget for your wedding? Did you do research before you began planning, or did you just "wing it"?