Friday, July 3, 2009

Budget, Part II: Sticker Shock

In Part I of my budget recap, I mentioned that we're right on target to be within $100 of our initial budget. I then went on to list a bunch of areas where we saved moolah. So where did all those savings go? Read on to find out.

BiE's Budget, Part II: Where the savings went

* Catering. By far the biggest sticker shock for us was the food and service. Part of this was due to lack of information. We drew up our original food estimates based on the prices a popular Denver caterer listed on their website -- and it turned out those prices didn't include any labor costs. Part of the cost increase stemmed from our decision to do a plated, seated dinner instead of a buffet (due to lack of space for a buffet table, and my mother's surprisingly intense dislike of buffets -- long story).

Add it all together, and the per-person cost of food and service ended up being nearly double what we estimated back in summer 2008. Fortunately we saved enough in other areas that we're still within budget, but I still feel a little woozy every time I look at our catering contract.

* Rentals. We had to bring in our own plates, glasses, linens, chairs, and even some extra tables to the venue, and while my mom and I were cost-conscious in picking them out, we didn't go with the least expensive options either. Our final rentals bill is about 20% higher than we'd budgeted, based entirely on choosing slightly fancier china, linens, and silverware than the absolute lowest-cost items. ($0.10 per piece adds up fast!) Also, in my original estimate, I left out some items, like plates for the cake.

The lesson here: think in advance about things like labor costs and where your guests are getting their plates!

Another excellent cell phone picture from yours truly.

* Items we didn't plan for. Our initial budget didn't include any ceremony or reception stationery (menus, programs, escort cards) or decorations (candles and menu card holders). We've managed to find good deals on these items, but all of it added up. Our original budget also did not include a day-of coordinator, but 2 months ago, Econo Boy and I decided to hire one. Fortunately, the pennies we'd pinched in other areas enabled us to not blow our budget when surprise costs came up!

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