“What’s your budget?”
“What are you looking to spend?”
“What number is the maximum?”

These are all variations on a question you will hear endless amounts of times during the planning of your wedding or any other event. Put down the gloves and your defenses, because there is a reason you are being asked this question.

One of the first things we ask our clients, frequently before we even begin working with them is “what is your budget?”. We need to know the overall budget so that we can break it down into categories, and we also need to know what you want to spend and where. For instance, if flowers are the be all and end all, we want to put a little more in that category and take from something else that is less important to you. If you have your heart set on a certain venue, then we will need to spend 50% of your budget there instead of 45% of the budget. 

But we can’t do any of that unless you are honest with us and tell us what you are willing to spend and what you are capable of spending.

Now I know, how do you know what anything costs? Countless websites will tell you how you can plan an entire wedding for $5,000, while others will tell you that centerpieces worth looking at start at $350 each. The internet is tricky that way, and like Web MD, if you rely on it to plan your wedding, you will be diagnosed with cancer. 

When we ask what our clients want to spend, what we really need to know is the limit. This doesn’t mean that if they say “$8,000 on flowers” that we are going to go out and get them a $7,999 quote. This means that we take that number and don’t go over it. How?

You tell us: $8k for flowers (or photography, or videography or whatever)….We then take that number to our vendors and go through everything you are interested in, from the style of the flowers to the amount of photographers for the day to the labor, to the set up and break down and everything you are not even thinking about. We then make it very clear that we are working with a hard number. Then, after a day or two (and work, this involves WORK) we will come back to you with a rough proposal of what we can provide within your budget. 

For example: $8,000 on photography and you want x amount of pictures, hi-res retouched everything, 4 parent albums, two photographers, 10 hours of coverage and a partridge in a pear tree. We will then work with photographers that we know, make sure they have the date available, the style you want, and put together a package for you to review. There is no need to waste your time with vendors that are outside your budget or cannot work with you and we do all of that homework for you and present you with your options.

But….if you say “I don’t know”, “I have no idea” or “I really can’t give you a number”….what happens then can be tragic. We will spend hours, sometimes days, working with our vendors (taking time away from other work that we need to be doing) to put together something for you based on what you want, but not what you want to spend…because you haven’t told us. We have NO IDEA what you want to spend because you have not given us a number. We’re not guessing, we’re not trying to bleed you dry, and we only have the information that you have given us. 

From there, we can present you with a rough proposal. 90% of the time we either don’t receive a response back or the response we do get back, is negative. Frequently, that number is too high and needs to come down. But needs to come down to what?

Look at it from our angle: you have given us nothing to work with but your ideas. We know the market, we know what things cost, and as planners, we can get you the best deals. So we are working to present you with something very real, and that work we do to put something together is no joke either. When you come back and say nothing or tell us that the number is too high, it’s very frustrating on our end because how were we supposed to know?

I guess the point of this blog is: it’s not a conspiracy theory. We want to get you the best deal for what you want, so that’s why you will keep hearing that question “what is your budget?” The best advice I can give you is to have a number in mind that you will not be willing to go over and then proceed from there. Proposals and quotes can be tweeted, but if the blind is leading the blind, then nothing gets accomplished and everyone has wasted their time and is now aggravated. 

Don’t lie to your doctor, publicist, attorney and especially not your planner. We cannot help you if you do.

Questions? Comments? We would love to hear them!

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