I have budgeted and quoted over 300 weddings in Mexico. People ask me many times how I budget the weddings. So I decided to share my knowledge about how money is allocated for your wedding vendors. By sharing my world famous formula known as the “70 on 7” rule, maybe I can help you plan your budget distribution. I do not count the dress or anything that is not reception and ceremony related. Also, I ignore hotel costs in this budget because independent private wedding venues do not force you into a “package” or rent rooms in any particular location, or force you to use certain vendors. That is the point of an “Indie” wedding; You have the perk of the freedom to stay anywhere you like and hire anyone you like and other perks. So, how to budget your wedding? Well I like to call it my 70 on 7 rule. 70% of your budget goes for the 7 crucial and classic services of most any respectable wedding and the 30% you have left can go to minor and optional services and items, such as menu cards or signs, extra floral arrangements, fireworks and so on.
70 on 7 rule states that you should spend 70% of your budget on the 7 core items of your wedding.
The 7 “must-haves” of a classy tropical Mexico wedding that is not held inside a resort are:
- Venue and planner: Planning your own wedding is possible but not a good idea. You can use in-house planners or some venues allow outside planners.
- Welcome hostess area: Receive guests and offer table escort and welcome drinks.
- Ceremony and Bridal party care and accesories: Includes floral arrangements for bridal party, make-up and hair.
- Cocktail lounge and tapas bar: Serve appetizers for guests while you take your pictures
- Dinner and table-scapes: Table decorations and dinnerware and furniture.
- DJ and dance floor: A must for fun factor.
- Catering and Bar: Includes all regarding food and bar
These 7 major items listed above in my opinion are key sections in your wedding, and should be where you concentrate most of your budget in your wedding. I call these the core items of any wedding. 70% of your budget should go into these services. The remaining 30% of your budget should be applied to the other important features that are optional, yet, rarely ignored in any successful wedding.
- Photo and video (In reality it is a must; if you want your wedding to live on forever in great photos)
- Entertainment (Live band, dancers, fireworks etc)
- Taco bar or late night coffee service
- Props and signs
- Extra flowers
- Extra Lighting
Well amigos, this is how I would approach budgeting your wedding, if I were you. Say you have 20,000USD to spend on the reception and ceremony, which is an average cost of a wedding in Mexico; 14,000USD should be allocated to the core wedding items, and 6,000USD should be assigned to other vendors you will need such as photo and video, entertainment and all extras. So just let your trusted wedding planner know your total budget for the wedding and sit back; Let them do the planning and budget distribution for you. If you want they can show you how much each section costs. But in the end, if they are under budget and provide what you want, does it matter what each vendor costs? Not really. Or, do it yourself and contact the vendors and you can have 100% control by using this advice.
Although, in my opinion the DIY trend is not wise in destination weddings. Becoming an international wedding planner overnight is not a good idea in my opinion. A typical destination wedding in Mexico requires about 20 to 25 vendors. So if you call or email each one and put your wedding together on your own; You will need about 20-25 hours at least just to ask them about their services. That is if they all return your calls or emails promptly and speak English fluently. You will have to research each one of them and verify they are who they say they are and trustworthy. If you have that kind of time and patience, then go for it.
However, we strongly recommend using an experienced wedding planner and let them do the planning. Make sure they have at least 25 reviews online and that they go back at least 3 years. Their reviews should not all be from the same time-frame. That may be a red flag. Why don’t they have more than one year in reviews? Of course, it could be they just started in the business. But, it could also be they are all just fake reviews. Just be careful. Once you have a trustworthy planner, you must let go of control and put yourself in her or his hands. You have to trust they will provide you with a complete wedding within budget. That is their job. So you can relax and let them do the work for you. Your only concerns should be picking colors and flowers and furniture styles, etc.
Controlling the budget is pretty much in the planners hands once you hire them. This is hard to forfeit this control. I know. You want to control the purse for each little item so that you can go and look for a cheaper vendor or maybe shave off some costs in flowers so you can have an extra hour of Mariachi band. But, if you trusted them to care for your most important day in your life, why not trust them to distribute your budget properly? Just tell them your budget limit. Tell them what your dream wedding would be like. Explain what features and services you want. And let them arrange it all and make it fit. As long as they do not go over budget you are golden. If there is an item that you want and it causes you to go over budget, the planner should let you know before you pay for it. Not surprise you later. If you know up front then you decide if you want to pay extra for it or eliminate it so you stay under the budget limit.
So what if they charge for this knowledge and service? Believe me, they earn every cent. If they are any good, they will take your wedding personally. That is what you want. And that is what makes their job so hard and stressful because they are right there with you every step of the way. They feel what you feel. They are with you in that journey. Their job is actually to take the stress away from you as much as possible and take it in themselves. Selecting a wedding planner is the most important decision you will make in your destination wedding planning journey.
There is always the “I can do that” or “I throw great parties at home” person, those who want to save of planner fees. Why pay 1,500-3,500 dollars to a planner? DIY is popular online. Can you plan a wedding yourself? Of course. Should you? No. It is like looking for apartments to rent: You can spend 3 weekends driving up to look for apartments in a strange city, or pay someone to find them for you in one day you have 3 or 4 proper apartments lined up and close on them in one day. Unless you really enjoy those 3 or 4 hours drives up to the city and getting lost and spending on gas etc. and those awful apartment tours; You will be happy you found a pro to narrow the search to what you like and close on the deal in one day. You will save time and money and yes, pamper yourself with amazing service. If they are any good, they obviously vetted the people they work with because their own reputation is tied to their recommendations.
Well, I hope this helps you know how your money should be distributed in your wedding. Decide how much you want to spend on your wedding and start your search: Either for a destination wedding planner or the vendors themselves and venue. Now you know roughly how much goes to what services. If you want any more advice just email me firstname.lastname@example.org