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OK, Clever Couples, I’m sorry if I’ve left the planning of your wedding on the back burner.Let’s get started and count on at least one post per week to help you along.

Now that our Clever Guys have acquired a ring, adhered to the requisite customs to acquire your hand in marriage, you’ve decided on a city and selected a date- it’s time to get down to the BUDGET.

There is no reason for you not to panic, Clever Guys- you will have more fights about money in this season than you are likely to have in the first five years of marriage. Oh, and the more you fight and withhold money, the less you will score. Is it worth it? No.

Do not have an initial discussion of budget without your mediator, I mean, wedding planner.It is their job to help you keep a cool head when you are searching the house randomly for prescription pills to manage your anxiety. There is no reason for this- we can all stay rational, right?

Wrong.

Know upfront, rational is a loose concept in the planning of a wedding. Why? This is the “most important day of your life.”- It is wrought with expectations, dreams, hopes, and EMOTION. Oh my gosh, there will be times when you look at your future wife and consider renting a small plane- though you don’t know how to fly- taking a few lessons, getting it up high enough to jump out with a parachute on somewhere over Paraguay- never to be seen again.

All parties coming to the table for the budget meeting need to have a dollar amount in mind.It is not the norm anymore for the parents of the bride to handle the entire expense. Feel free to contribute- strike that- determine you will contribute. Make sure he calls his parents to let them know there is a budget meeting if they would like to attend.

Traditionally, the groom’s parents are responsible for the rehearsal dinner- but again, things are changing. As the price to execute a wedding is going up- money is coming in from all branches of the family tree. If they decline to contribute- know they are standing on ceremony and don’t be offended. Unless they are filthy rich. Then, pouting and complaining is totally acceptable (just make sure you do it with your girlfriends- not CLEVER to put your soon to be husband in the middle).

Once the parties have commenced- pass out the Clonazipam and the wine (kidding- kind of) and get started. Everyone give your piece of paper with your contribution to the wedding planner and have her announce the budget to the group.

The Clonazipam will help you to keep that gasp in check- whether it’s a good or bad utterance. For the record, I’m totally kidding about the anti-anxiety medication. I’m just trying to manage your expectations regarding the potential stress.

It might be at this point, you and your fiancé come to terms with the reality of the wedding.You might either have to contribute more to your own budget or scale back considerably your notion of the perfect day.

Either way, the consultant is there to help. Let me tell you just a few ways s/he can be of service. Well connected in the wedding industry, your coordinator will be able to modify the date to maximize a budget that might have come in lower than expected. You must be open to this- there is nothing wrong with getting married on a Friday. I know what you are thinking- no one will be able to come because of work. Let me be clear- if you give your guests six months or more notice and they don’t come to your wedding- they don’t want to.

Another way a coordinator will be able to save you money is to steer you toward vendors who are professional, educated, experienced and well reputed and will give you a fantastic product without charging you for a NAME. It is not uncommon for wedding professionals to achieve celebrated status within their field. Once they do, it is also not uncommon for them to price gouge. We will talk more about that later- but the point is- the consultants know the difference and can guide you well.

There a many ways to acquire your dream wedding dress without paying $10,000. Cakes really are just flour and water. Because your consultant is the insider’s insider- they will help to manage your contracts with each vendor to make certain there are no hidden charges.

Simple advice- take it or leave it. Increase your budget by 30 percent before you begin or you might not make it to the alter for all the fighting. It is critical your expectations are reasonable. With a $60,000 budget, you can NOT spend $15,000 on a dress and $30,000 on décor and lighting unless you don’t care if you have the ceremony and reception in your backyard with Lunchables and punch, photographed with box cameras.

Now that you have a dollar amount- you can count on fighting over how the money is spent.It is important when setting the percentages for your budget that all parties contributing to the budget generate a list of priorities. You can be certain they will vary greatly.

One Clever way to manage the budget is to give yourself plenty of time to pay for it. Having it too quickly can cause major cash crunch related stress.

I have some tips from Mary Frances Hurt of DFW Events– she is So Very Clever. We will move beyond the budget next week. In the meantime, start thinking about what YOU plan to contribute- other than the grace of your presence.