Before you go shopping for a wedding venue, have a discussion about your priorities and budget.  Trust me; you really need to do this!

  1. What are your priorities?

High energy or laid back vibe?

Small, intimate occasion or huge party?

Number of guests?  (This will affect many of your expenses)

Outdoor wedding or an indoor ceremony?

Spend lots of time with your wedding party?

Lots of dancing or conversation?

Lobster and steak or BBQ?

Have this discussion so that both of you are on the same page.  Remember that there may be some compromising!

  •  What is your budget? 

Are you paying for your wedding yourself?  Or do you have help from family or friends? 

How many guests did you decide on?

What is the maximum that you want to spend?

There are some things that you have to pay for and other things that you may be able to get given to you as a wedding gift.  Photography, cake/desserts, decorations, dress, music:  who might give these to you as gifts?

One of our brides is using her grandmother’s crystal, shopped at thrift stores for water pitchers and is picking the flowers for her bouquets at a friend’s flower farm.  An aunt and uncle covered part of the venue cost for another bride.  A wedding gown is being designed and sewn by a third bride’s sister. 

Use this chart to figure out what you can do yourself, who can help you and what you have to pay for.  This is your ‘starting point’; plans will change as you progress!

Wedding Budget ItemDo Yourself or Donated by a Friend or Family Member?   (indicate ‘self’ or friend’s name)Must Pay For       (indicate with an X if you must pay for this)        Cash Budget       (write down a cost estimate)
Person #1 Attire (dress or suit)   
Person #2 Attire (dress or suit)   
Food for reception (meal and appetizers; late night snack?) Multiply your # of guests x your per person expense   
Food for Rehearsal Dinner   
Food for Wedding Morning   
Flowers/bouquets corsages/boutonnieres   
Gifts for wedding party   
Wedding Liability Insurance   

We’d love to help you figure this all out!  Let’s talk about your dream day!

Leigh Beaulieu is a partner in Sweet Meadow Weddings & Events in Durham, Maine, located 15 minutes from Freeport and 30 minutes north of Portland.  As a community organizer, sales director and public affairs professional, she has managed events of all magnitudes for over 20 years.  You can reach her at [email protected]