One of the most challenging aspects of planning your dream wedding is settling on a budget. For many brides, this process can bring up nightmarish fears of family conflicts and living in a cardboard box for the next few years in exchange for having all that you want, and more, in your perfect celebration.

Luckily, when it comes to planning your wedding budget a little sense of perspective can go a long way. When it comes to deciding what you want to make wise investments in for your wedding, and what you can get away with doing a little on the DIY side (hello, pinterest!), it’s important to take a step back and reflect on what elements of your celebration will truly turn into your fondest memories for years down the road.

Think about this: when you’re crunching budget numbers down to dollars and cents, the word “value” is important and comes to mind often. You want to know what the worth is of the things you’re spending your hard-earned money for. Now think about the word “value” in a difference sense – what do you value  when it comes to those elements of your wedding that directly contribute the joy and happiness you and your loved ones experience?  This is where you should focus your budgeted investments.

Five, ten, or even twenty-five years from now your family and friends will remember the great experience they had at your wedding. Ask yourself: if you’re on a budget, what does that value mean to you? For most brides, there’s no 100% right or 100% wrong answer to that question. Does this mean you want each and every guest to have individual flower arrangements, uniquely personalized in your ceremony colors and embossed with your monogrammed initials, waiting for them as they enter the reception venue? Possibly. But more likely than not, this means that smart investments will be made in the big elements like photography, entertainment, and food and drink while leaving the other choices up to some creative thinking and ingenuity (and yet again, help from the all-knowing Pinterest experts). It may even help to rank all of your budget items in terms of priority from low to high to see where along the bottom you can make some changes.

This is a topic that is difficult to approach in the wedding planning process, but the time devoted to it will always pay off in the end. Until your big day has come and gone, take comfort in the fact that each bride is in her own unique situation – and there’s plenty of help along the way for the tough decisions up ahead.