You know those moments when you sit down to look at your wedding budget and you start to feel sort of… out of your depth? When you’re trying to balance each expense against the other (plate spinning style) to come up with something resembling a realistic total but are actually just shuffling numbers around on a spreadsheet?
You’ll start to think that maybe, just maybe, it would be useful to get a second opinion on where you should be spending your money. But here’s the kicker. The old saying goes: ‘nobody likes talking about money’, and that’s generally true, especially if you’ve got an ounce of Brit in you. But you’ll be surprised at how willing people are to give you their opinion on your wedding budget.
When it comes to planning a day where emotions are tangled up with money – there’s a fine line between asking for advice, and asking for judgment.
Unless you’re the Wolf of Wall Street or Scrooge McDuck, you’re going to be cranking those internal head cogs trying to stretch those coins you’ve saved to buy you more than just a cold meat buffet in the local Working Men’s Club. Is it more important to splash out on that the funk spinning music machine that should be your band, or should you fling those spare coppers behind the bar for extra cocktails? Do you ruthlessly cut out those guests you haven’t seen in more than a year to give your ‘definites’ list (don’t pretend you haven’t made one) a choice of both those little Mexican parcels of pulled pork burritos AND slices of thin and crispy pizza from a pizza oven in the back of a freaking Land Rover?
Decisions are tough. Especially when they’re expensive ones.
A problem shared is a problem halved. Or so said some 17th Century busybody whose only goal in life was to stick their nose into everyone else’s problems. Even if you’re the one on the receiving end of a problem being shared, when it’s someone you’ve known for a long time, it’s difficult not to immediately crack out the ladder of judgment and climb on up to your high horse.
When you take a step back, look at your wedding budget and think to yourself “maybe I should just ask what other people think”, it can feel like this is going to solve all your problems. But when you take that step and lay your cards out on the table, you’ve got to be prepared for them to know everything.
You’ll send that email, forward that spreadsheet and have that conversation. They’ll know every intricate detail about what you think your priorities are, how much you’ve got to spare for your wedding and how the day is likely to play out. If they take more than a day to respond, good chances are they’re digging pretty deep into the numbers.
Next thing you know you’ll be torturing yourself wondering what they think about your priorities.
When they finally do respond with specific questions about where you’ve allocated money, you’ll start downplaying your plans, saying something like “well that’s an absolute maximum” or “I haven’t really looked at the costs of this yet so it’ll probably be less” or “we’re looking to cut down wherever we can”. Once you do that, you’re opening a can of worms by trying to please them and justify your choices.
Here’s the thing, it’s all about priorities.
Your choices, decisions, gut instincts, favourites and opinions. When you sit down with each other to go over your wedding budget, it’s best to have a couple of glasses of something strong in hand, because it’s never going to be easy. But you know what makes it exactly 184% harder? Showing it to other people.
Whether it’s a weekly shop from Waitrose, a Caribbean holiday, an online shopping spree to make yourself feel better about it being February (I’m still refusing to open my bank statement!) or even a Netflix subscription, we all spend money on things we love but we know our parents might judge us for. Why? Because all of our priorities are different.
If it’s the dream of a beach cabana or your addiction to House of Cards that gets you through the day, you don’t have justify it to anyone (sometimes not even to yourself!)
When it comes to your wedding you shouldn’t have to justify decisions that are, at the heart of it, personal. Don’t let anybody question if you should really be spending so much on the band you are already excited about dancing to or, by the same token, pass judgment on the things you wanted but gave up to get it.
Putting together your wedding budget is a balancing act that should definitely take place behind closed doors.