Updated: Jul 24
The Rollercoaster Wedding Budget - Five do's and don'ts of staying on budget when your money's worth is constantly changing.
There you are, envisioning the glory of all four minutes and twenty-eight seconds of your ivory and radiant orchid firework display. It’s set against the velvety backdrop of a midnight sky, and has been perfectly timed to match the rise and fall of each crescendo in Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro. Then your fiancé calls. The market has taken yet another turn, and the value of your dollar against the local currency has just taken a swan dive off the Chrysler Building. Your dreams of a momentous cap to the evening have gone up in smoke, and you’re left with nothing but a packet of wet sparklers.
Arguably, one of the most stressful factors for every couple planning a wedding is the dreaded budget. That pressure is compounded for destination brides and grooms who face an ever- fluctuating currency exchange rate. One minute you can afford that exceptional detail you’ve always wanted, but the next, it’s just out of reach. Before you start humming Beethoven's 5th Symphony, take a look at these sanity-saving do’s and don’ts below:
1. Consider the historical trends for currency rates.
Do: Take a look at the last couple years of data and try to establish a trending pattern of what to expect in the upcoming months. There are several different websites that monitor and publish world currency charts, so it's best to familiarize yourself with a couple of them to establish a benchmark. While you can't predict the future, you can at least get an idea of what the highs and lows have been to calculate your best and worst case scenarios. Don’t: Download a widget for up-to-the-minute market notifications; you will only drive yourself (and your fiancé) crazy.
2. Negotiate in a fixed exchange rate.
Do: Try to negotiate at a fixed exchange rate based on average trends. While you kind of have to toe the line as to not offend your vendors, especially depending on the country, if you establish what your dollar is worth ahead of time, it'll take the pressure off of you. Don’t: Expect this to work every time. You may get lucky, but it’s important to respect cultural differences and negotiating customs.
3. Research who has the lowest fees.
Do: Your best bet is to use a credit card, but that isn't always possible because many vendors require a cash deposit. Check with your bank and pay close attention to their policies. Some financial institutions use backdated rates and charge high international wire fees most couples don't even think about while preparing a budget. As if it isn't hard enough to keep track of current exchange rates, getting hit with surprise fees associated with international exchanges and transactions can bust the budget. Don’t: Walk in without a plan of action. You could be facing a $40 wire transfer fee or an exchange rate that is 8 cents higher on the dollar. If you don’t know what you’re in for ahead of time, the bank will break you.
4. Set aside extra money for incidentals.
Do: Lots of people have a miscellaneous tab on their monthly budget, but it's a very good idea to have one for your wedding budget as well. Padding the account with a little extra cash for incidentals will create a buffer in your budget to absorb unpredictable market changes. But not just a hundred bucks here and here for things like tipping your cab driver, it's best to be safe and stash a couple thousand dollars just in case. Don’t: Spend every dime you have and decide you’ll scrape up more money later.
5. Make sure you have alternatives for big ticket items.
Do: Figure out a backup plan. If the market does take a drastic turn, you may need to make a last minute swap from silk to synthetic organza tablecloths. It may sound like extra work, and to be fair, it is. But the last thing you want to have to do is compromise for something you got stuck with last minute. Absolutely love the Chiavari chairs? Well a great and more budget friendly alternative might be the Versailles style. The point is, know your style in and out and what may work as an alternative to your plan in case you can't afford the original option. An easy place to cut back? Flowers! Maybe you opt for a pattern of petals down the aisle instead of a lush carpet. Do your moms really need the prom corsage? While florals do make an impact, they can cost a fortune. Don’t: Set your heart on an item you can barely afford and hope for the best.
Nobody wants to sleep next to a bride who shouts currency ticker updates in her sleep, so try and take it all in stride. It’s important to remember that no matter how much you prepare, you will never truly be able to predict the currency markets. It may take a little extra planning, but staying organized will help you maintain your sanity and your savings.
Speaking of your budget, you may want to start thinking about your honeymoon registry.
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Ashley Oñoz-Wright has been a travel writer and editor based in Las Vegas, NV for the last ten years. Her work has been featured in Manifesting Travel, Modern Luxury, Sophisticated Living, Greenspun Media Group, Vegas.com and LasVegas.com. She holds a degree in Sociology & Anthropology from DePauw University.