Establishing your budget is the VERY first step in wedding planning. I do NOT believe that you have to spend your life’s savings on your wedding. If anything, I have more fun planning weddings on a tighter budget. If necessity is the mother of invention, than a tight budget is the mother of creativity. With proper planning, no one will know you planned your wedding on a modest budget.
Who is paying for your wedding? Is it you and your significant other? Are your parents helping out? Have your grandparents offered to help out a bit? No matter where your finances are coming from, you need to make sure you have a firm and realistic number established.
My own wedding was approximately $25,000, but with careful planning, the value of the wedding I hosted was actually $50,000. How did I save $25,000? Negotiating, comparison shopping and being smart about buying decisions (i.e. don’t let emotions dictate your spending!)
Regardless of the size of your budget, get a firm commitment from everyone involved and get your final budget down on paper before you start shopping for anything else. The worst thing you can do while wedding planning is to begin falling in love with things that you later find are not within your budget. No one wants to start off their wedding planning adventure with heartbreak.