Why You Need to be WARY of Wedding Budget Tools
We all know The Knot. The massive industry wedding inspiration, planning, everything website for brides and friends and maybe grooms.
They have planning tools and checklists and an extensive vendor database (which costs a lot of money for a vendor to advertise by the way). The are a lot of amazing things about features on the site, but some, are not up to par.
Recently I found out the wedding budget planner is so woefully incorrect, it borders on delusion.
It begins simple enough, you enter in a wedding budget dollar amount and then the planner spews out recommended costs for each item of the wedding based on the total budget. The planner also sorts out the budget by months of when you should be accomplishing each item. Frankly it is confusing and doesn't allow for a budget only planning, it must be tied into a timeline. But that's another story.
But the worst is how they divide your budget. And, how they completely failed to take into consideration geographic impacted costs. Wedding costs in New York City versus a wedding in the middle Iowa are very different. Regardless of your budget, a hotel room is *not* $70 a night in New York City, unless you fancy rats, bedbugs, and muggings. In Iowa? Yes, likely you can find a room at that price.
Your budget on The Knot's planner has little meaning because they do not know if you are having the wedding in the most expensive city or living on a farm in nowhereville America.
Second, The Knot has a strange way of allocating money. On a tight budget of $10,000, they expect you to find a wedding photographer for $600. SIX HUNDRED DOLLARS. Let me break the bad news to you, if you are having a wedding in the United States of America, there is NO photographer who will photograph your wedding for $600. No professional photographer would work 12 hours on the job and another 5-15 hours in post processing for that money.
Maybe if you ask Uncle Bob to use his iPad and shoot your wedding, you can stay within recommended budget.
Here's the rest of the breakdown that was offered on a $10,000 budget.
Ah yesss, hundred bucks for ceremony music is right on! Rolls eyes. Yes, if you're playing a CD or got friends to do it.
Honestly, skip the $25 makeup trial and get it done by Sephora for $50. They do an excellent job, and on a tight tight budget, that's a realistic option. Oh, and did you notice that hair and makeup is not even budgeted into this except for trials? Get your hair done by your hairdresser.
Under the dress essentials? If you want a bra and undies for under $25, you're going to shop at Target. No reasonable designer has bra sets at that price, unless you buy it on sale. Or already have a pair.
A $10,000 budget is tight, and even worse in high cost cities. What you need to do is figure out what really matters to you and budget accordingly. You can do a lot of DIY along with sales scooping (end of seasons bras, promo codes for invites and photo albums, wholesale flowers, etc), but you need to be ready to do so. Don't expect this to be easy planning.
To get a more realistic sense of wedding budgeting, I also entered in the average "American" wedding budget of $35,000. The numbers were not heartening. For example, I was recommended my photographer would cost $2100. Let me break your heart a little. It is possible to find a photographer at that price range, but know that price IS budget photography or good photography stripped of perks (shorter time, less photos delivered).
Here's the $35,000 wedding budget broken down. There's around $5000 not allocated for in the budget. I'll tell you more below.
The only upside to this budget planner is The Knot has accounted for 12% unreserved budget based on the recommendations. They don't tell you that though. You can unnecessarily freak out during the planning process that you've gone "over" budget, when you really have not.
The Knot, I very much you get that algorithm in check and do some research. These "numbers" you provide are not based in reality, maybe Iowa reality, but not the rest of the America. You need to help educate brides, grooms and their families on the realistic costs of weddings. Weddings are not cheap, and there's always a trade-off. You don't get peonies in December at The Four Seasons on a $10k budget. But, you can still have a great wedding if you focus on what's important.