No one likes to talk about it, but the wedding budget is one of those things you cannot ignore. Before you buy the dress or even start looking for a wedding venue, you and your fiance need to know how much money you have to spend.
Creating and sticking to a budget with a wedding isn’t easy. You are at the mercy of the season – and you are dealing with a lot of emotions. While most budgets will see a few hiccups, there are ways to create a solid budget that is realistic and easy to stick to – that way you don’t find yourself in the red before your big day.
First, Do Research
The cost of a wedding can vary month to month and year to year. What your friend paid for her wedding last year will not be what you pay for – even if you copied every little detail. Because, prices fluctuate based on demand. If you get married during the summer and peak wedding months, you will pay more than if you get married off-season or even mid-week.
It is best to do a little research and see what the average cost of a wedding is these days. Call around and see what wedding prices are per vendor too for the area you are considering for the wedding. This will help you establish a more accurate wedding budget.
Deciding What YOUR Wedding Will Cost
Now that you have some research under your belt, you can start to think about how much your own wedding is likely to cost. First, you will want to think of a number you are comfortable with paying.
Then, you need to decide how much of your money will go to certain portions of the weddings. Most couples have 40 to 70 percent of their wedding budget devoted to just the reception – which is easily the most expensive portion of any wedding. The rest of the budget goes toward everything else, including the ceremony, dress, rentals, officiant, etc. If the reception is not important to you, you can spend less of the budget there.
Decide Who is Paying and How Much They Are Paying
Who is paying for your wedding? While you know the average cost of a wedding, it does not mean you have that kind of money.
Sit down with your fiance and discuss where the money is coming from. Are you both taking on the cost or will family help out? If you and your fiance are the ones paying for the wedding, you need to be realistic and think about your future – not just the wedding.
There is no point in taking out loans or putting yourself into debt just for the wedding – after all, starting a marriage off with a significant debt due isn’t a great way to start.
You may have family members that are willing to contribute something toward the wedding. See who is willing to help – and how much they can add to the wedding budget.
Once you have an accurate estimate of how much money you will have, you can move onto creating your own wedding budget.
Start Organizing Your Wedding Budget
You should create a spreadsheet that lists everything you need to pay for in the wedding – such as a dress, venue, caterer, wedding cake, etc. You should also list any deposits required – since most wedding venues require a deposit to hold the wedding date for you.
Do not forget those little expenses that can add up, such as postage for mailing out your invitations or thank you gifts for guests.
Establish a Flexible Budget
While you might want a budget that is carved in stone, you need to be realistic. Most wedding budgets never stay exact – and you may find yourself making adjustments based on what you find. For example, you find the wedding dress you love and want, but it is $500 over your budget. So, you have to cut back on flower or use the less expensive wedding invitations to make it work.
Make sure your budget is flexible. You will still allocate funds based on each category (using your spreadsheet), but remember that you may have to adjust as the planning process takes off so that you can accommodate those unforeseen expenses – or changes.
A Few Tips for Staying on Budget
While every bride assumes they will stay on budget, there are a few things that can pop up and ruin your entire wedding budget. To keep yourself on track, we have compiled our best tips:
- Don’t shop outside the budget. The best way to stay on budget is to not look or shop for anything outside of it. That means staying away from the flowers that are advertised already over your budget or trying on a wedding dress $1,000 over the budget. By not shopping for the items over your budget, you will be less likely to fall in love with something you cannot afford.
- Post the budget somewhere. You and your fiance need to keep track of the budget and see where it is at constantly. Post the budget somewhere you both can see it and update it regularly as money is spent in each category.
- Discuss adjustments before you make them. If you want to make a change to the budget, discuss it with your fiance and make sure they are in agreement. Never add more to one category and take away from another without discussing it first. That way no one accidentally overspends on something you both didn’t approve of.
- Look out for areas where you can trim. Sometimes you may have to cut the budget and there are plenty of places to do that. From cutting back on elaborate wedding favors to just using a more inexpensive wedding invitation, there are always places to trim down.
By establishing a good wedding budget that is realistic, you are off to the right start. While weddings can be stressful, having that budget in place may actually make the process a little less strenuous.
Get our FREE guide on How to Avoid the boring wedding