And at the end of the day, you'll still be married

I know I promised a board, but I've decided Fridays are going to be more of a "show and tell" type of day here, and today is all about the budget.

Like most brides-to-be have noticed- or anyone who has even thought about their wedding for that matter- weddings are really really expensive. And I'm not talking platinum weddings with fireworks, but just an average wedding usually costs almost $29,000. Seriously? Most of us don't have that, and if we do, I'd like to think we are responsible enough to know that $29,000 is one serious down payment for a house, or a car... or a thousand other long term practical things. So why are people still spending this much money?

Because we are told in order to have a perfect wedding we have to.

As Whose Wedding is it Anyways tells us at the beginning of each show "you only have this one day." Well ladies (and gents) that is just ridiculous. Now don't get me wrong, I am all for this being one of the best days of your life and for celebrating it in a big way, but when did a big way mean going into debt for dripping crystals and fireworks? What happened to celebrating everlasting love and commitment? What happened to staying within your means?

In an attempt to "share the wisdom" here is some starter advice. I'll dig deeper in to specifics later, but these are just some things I think everyone needs to know.

1) Think about a reasonable date and then start to save.

After the question is popped everyone is so excited and most often dates are picked before budgets are discussed. Make sure you are giving yourselves (and your parents) enough time to save money for the wedding. A lot of time, when someone feels rushed they make hasty decisions that can cost the couple and families big time.

2) Discuss a budget and meet with anyone who is contributing to the fund.

Discuss what is important to you and your hubbie-to-be and ask what is important to the contributors. Be as open and honest (and respectful) as you can. For a lack of better words, set some ground rules. With money, there are always going to be some strings attached (what they envision for you, where they'd like it to be held, etc.) Find out what those strings are early on and you'll stay away from a lot of heart ache. It doesn't always mean you have to do everything that person wants, but it will allow for compromise. A word to you should go ahead and get familiar with!

3) Discuss together what you both would like for the wedding. Write it down.
This is the time to go crazy. Want a mountaintop ceremony where he proposed with 200 guests? How about a Bellini fountain? Write it down.

4) Get practical.

Sure you want a mountain top ceremony for 200, but will the mountain top even hold 200? Will there be facilities for 200 people? Do you remember the long hike through mud it took to get to the top where he proposed? Do you want to do that in heels? And now that you've adamantly decided to wear flats, what about your guests? :)

This is the time to look over the list and realize the feeling you want for the wedding. Do you want something more natural and eco-friendly or a black tie affair with a swing band? Your list should clue you in on this.

5) Prioritize.

You're looking at your list. You remember your budget. Now is the time to list what is most important to both of you for the wedding- what you just have to have. We really cared about music, photography and the bar so that is where we concentrated the majority of our budget. The rest we knew that I could design and make or we could do without, which takes us to number 6.

6) Think about your strengths and the strengths of those around you.

I am an artist so I took on about every DIY project I could think of- from invitations to the flowers. Not everyone is like me, but everyone has talents. Maybe someone is really into fashion and would love to be in charge of sending out wedding party accessory emails, or maybe someone doesn't feel really creative but is more than willing to come early to help string lights, set up tables, lay out linens, light candles etc. One of my favorite "day before the wedding" moments was with me and two of my best friends, Amanda and Abbey, on my parents' back porch putting together the flowers and boutonnieres. As I arranged centerpieces, Abbey wrapped and glued ribbon around springs of evergreen, and then handed them off to Amanda who tied perfect bows onto each of the sprigs. (Mind you the first thing Amanda said when she walked in was "I can't do all that artsy stuff, but I can tie one hell of a bow.") This was all going on while my mom and aunt were running around setting up for the rehearsal dinner that was going to be at my parents house that night.

Some people may have thought I was crazy to have us take on as many responsibilities as we did, but not only did we save a lot of money, we have so many more memories to cherish.

7) Take time to pick the big things, and then book them.

Really take the time to pick the big high ticket items, like the venue. It will dictate the entire feeling of the wedding. With that said, you have to look at the big picture when picking these. Make sure you know all of the restrictions and what you will have to rent/buy. I've talked to and read about so many brides who found the perfect place within their budget only to later be hit with rental fees for tents, chairs, tables, silverware, etc that put them way over budget. Take into consideration whether or not you can pick your own caterer and bring your own alcohol- two options that can really save you money. And once you find the place, read the contract again, and book it.

8) Plan. A lot.

Everyone laughed at how planned our wedding was. In addition to the wedding being almost completely planned in 3 months (our engagement was a year long) I had time lines, and mock ups of how the room was to be set up etc.** But all of the planning really paid off and kept me calm and collected throughout the whole process. I knew what needed to be done and when (like getting a marriage license), and never felt too rushed or forced to make too many last minute decisions.

9) Expect the unexpected.

Our photographer cancelled 6 months before the wedding. Luckily we found a wonderful photographer (tim at who was really sympathetic and worked with us and our budget and ended up being one of our favorite parts of the wedding. Things will go wrong, but you have to look for the good in every situation and make the best of everything.

10) Remember you are getting married! And to your best friend!!

I remember reading a quote from a guest post on Snippet & Ink (written by Meg from A Practical Wedding) that I think just nails this point.

"...finally, and most importantly, remember that this day is about emerging married. It’s about celebrating sharing the rest of your life with your spouse. So start now, share the planning process with them, and enjoy it. The wedding is short, what counts is the journey. "

See what I mean? That's just perfect. Cakes can fall over, dresses can get stained. You might even fumble through your vows, have your name mispronounced, or trip coming down the aisle- but at the end of the day none of that really matters. All that matters is the promise you made to one another- to love each other and be there for each other for better or worse. So surround yourself with people that you love and that love you, have a great time and smile. Because no matter what, at the end of the day, you two will still be married.

**Yes, I realize I am a very type A person