Congratulations, you’re engaged! Once you begin the wedding planning process, one of the first things you’ll decide on is a wedding budget. While social pressures can often conspire to inflate wedding costs, creating (and sticking) to a reasonable wedding budget can help ensure that your wedding will go smoothly — without breaking the bank.
1. Understanding Your Financing
In order to create a comprehensive wedding budget, you must first have an understanding of your finances. What are you and your partner planning to spend money on in the short term? What about long-term? Compare your combined income and savings, along with estimates of other gifts or additions that may be put toward your wedding, such as contributions from family members. Figuring out exactly how much money you have coming in and what you want to spend it on in the future can make it easier to decide on a wedding budget that makes sense to both of you.
2. Estimate the Guest Count
One of the biggest factors in creating a wedding budget is the amount of guests you’re planning to have at your wedding. There’s a big difference between the cost it takes to throw a wedding for 50 people than one for 150 people. Talk about how you picture your wedding and discuss non-negotiables for your guest list with your partner. That way, you can both be on the same page when you decide on a guest count. Psst — don’t forget to factor in plus-ones!
3. Plan Out the Wedding Costs
Now comes the fun part! You can start mapping out some of the bigger expenses in your wedding, such as catering, the venue, the wedding dress, and the wedding bands you’ll say “I do” with. You may want to make a list of which items you value the most, so that you can prioritize your budget according to your wish list. For example, if you and your partner are huge foodies, then spending a little extra on the caterer while cutting costs for the venue may be the way to go.
4. Create an Emergency Fund
Despite our best efforts in planning, sometimes, emergencies happen. Maybe you chose a venue that’s outdoors and suddenly you’re expecting tornadoes in June, or maybe your 6-year-old ring-bearer misplaced the rings. Maybe your forgot to include setup and breakdown fees in your original budget. No matter what the case is, it’s good to have a little bit of your budget tucked aside for unfortunate incidentals. We recommend putting five to 15 percent of your budget into your emergency fund. You’ll be glad you did!
5. Research Your Options
It’s well known that weddings can get expensive, which is why it’s so important to do your research before making any big decisions when it comes to your wedding plans. Take the details into consideration when factoring anything into your budget, and don’t forget to include “extras” that may be offered. While some venues include service and catering in the cost of renting, others may require you provide your own catering, or your own servers, or both. This means that those extra costs will have to be combined in your overall budget. Making sure you’ve gone through all your options means that you know exactly what your budget is going toward.
6. Track Your Spending
Little costs can add up, especially when it comes to weddings. You may not think adding that chocolate fountain for a few hundred dollars will make a big difference in your wedding budget, but every penny counts. Create an Excel spreadsheet, download a money tracking app, or go old-fashioned and keep a notebook around to make sure you’re tracking your spending. Make sure to include things like taxes and gratuity as well. This becomes especially important when you’re overwhelmed by wedding excitement!
7. Save Where You Can
Believe it or not, there are a lot of ways to save and still have the wedding of your dreams. Here are a few ways to cut costs when it comes to your wedding budget:
- Create your own flower arrangements
- Borrow equipment/décor from friends
- Choose a public venue, or have your wedding at home
- Invite your friends to help create your own wedding favors
- Choose an affordable engagement ring/wedding bands (you can always upgrade later!)
- Go with a track list instead of a DJ or live band
- Shop vintage for your wedding attire
- Choose to have an “off-season” wedding (such as winter)