Budgeting for Your Same-Sex Wedding

While the word “engaged” starts most hearts fluttering, the word “budget” often has the extreme opposite effect. How will you plan your dream same-sex wedding on a shoestring budget? Can you afford an over-the-top celebration, or is an elopement more practical? When divvying up the bills, who pays for which events and services when planning gay and lesbian weddings?

Where does a couple start? The first steps to planning any wedding are to evaluate your resources and to prioritize.

Who Contributes to a Gay Wedding Budget?

The do’s and don’ts of planning gay weddings are still emerging, and allow for some loose interpretation of traditional roles depending on individual situations. Etiquette aside, as a couple you will have to determine what money is available to pay for your celebration, and who is willing to contribute. Some gay and lesbian couples may enjoy the support of family with parents or others who want pay for some or all of the ceremony and reception, or host a rehearsal dinner. Other LGBT couples will find that they must fund their weddings themselves. The resources that you come into the relationship with, dependent often on your age, career path, living situation, and other demands will have a significant impact on your wedding budget as well. You should further consider your post-wedding goals: do you plan to buy a home together, start a family, or embark on any kind of venture that you must plan for financially?

Have an honest conversation early on during your engagement about your financial priorities, and determine the amount of money that you are willing to invest in the celebration of your love. Figure out how you will access the money before you sign binding contracts, and make sure that all contributing parties are kept in the loop about your budget progress.

Prioritize: What Does “Wedding” Mean to You?

Are you planning a simple, local exchange of vows followed by an intimate dinner? Does your dream wedding look more like a royal celebration? Or, do local laws necessitate a same-sex destination wedding or elopement?

After your frank discussion about available financial resources, your next heart-to-heart needs to be about your vision for your big day. Lay all of the considerations out on the table, and if you find that you are struggling with a consensus, a great exercise is to make a complete list of all of the components of a wedding (geographic location, venue, capacity, entertainment, food, décor, and more). Create a master list together, then, individually rank what is most important to you (and to anyone whose opinion will impact your decisions). Compare your results, negotiate and compromise, then develop a list of master “wedding priorities”. Once you have this list in hand, as well as your total budget target, you can begin to project dollar amounts for each item – these dollar amounts are your initial budget goals.

Do Your Research

Start with this website and the abundant resources available here to help your plan your gay wedding. You will find articles that will help you understand cultural expectations of LGBT weddings, as well as practical insight into why wedding services and products cost what they do. Invest in a great planning book that can keep you on track and make sure you don’t forget any important elements.

The internet is full of articles and guidance to help you should you choose to go the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) route. Just make sure to budget in the (sometimes significant) extra time and labor required to pull off a great DIY wedding. Often times DIY projects online come with great “warnings” and “lessons learned” – these are as valuable during your wedding planning as the original instructions themselves.

Consulting local experts is another great way to find services that best fit your budget and preferences. Even those on a restricted budget should at least consider hiring an expert to help with planning and executing an event as complicated as many weddings are. A great wedding planner can often save you money by simply helping you avoid costly mistakes!

Plan for Success

So many considerations contribute to creating a wedding budget. Knowing what your real resources are and what your married financial goals will be will help keep your wedding planning harmonious and constructive. Honest exchanges about the meaning and scope of your day will ensure that you stay on track, and using all  available planning resources can help you make the most of whatever budget you may set. Make budget planning the first step when planning your gay or lesbian wedding, and you will thank yourselves for it when you finally say, “I do”.

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