Many would consider their wedding as the most important day of their lives. How do you decide how much to spend to celebrate your marriage? It’s quite a daunting task, but it is a necessity and is one of the first things to do when planning your wedding.
First things first, sit down with your fiance and talk about the wedding and how much you, as a couple, are willing to spend. Be sure that both of you are 100% comfortable with this figure and don’t stretch yourself too thin.
The next step is to talk to the parents. If they will be contributing to the wedding budget, find a way to nicely ask them how much they are comfortable contributing. Getting a specific dollar amount instead of having them pay for a specific service (i.e. photography, flowers, entertainment) may be easier to manage since your parents probably don’t know how much any of those services actually cost and it can spook them when you try to explain why you’re spending a few thousand dollars on photography.
The biggest driver of the budget is headcount. It’s simple math, more people, more money. It’s challenging to know where to draw the line on the guest list, but it is an important driver of the cost. The best advice we can offer is be fair and do your best to meet yours and your families requests. Your headcount will likely change throughout the planning process, but having a range will allow you to start the planning.
Your budget and guest count will help determine the type of wedding you have. Will it be a black tie event at the Ritz or an intimate brunch with your family and close friends. With couples getting more creative in crafting their dream wedding and steering away from the super traditional type events, unique and memorable weddings can be planned for a wide range of sticker prices.
There are a variety of resources out there that will tell you how to break down your budget into the various categories. We suggest you look at those percentages and use them as a guideline to help you allocate your budget. Sit down as a couple and talk about which two or three aspects are the most important for you. Is it the food? Photography? Beer and wine versus a full open bar? Or an 80’s cover band? Set your priorities and allocate the majority of the funds to these categories.
This is likely the most expensive event you’ve ever had to plan. And it can be intimidating to see the dollar signs flashing before your eyes. Don’t feel pressured to spend more than you can or want to. There are many great ways to have a beautiful wedding on a budget. Consider DIY projects – great way to cut costs and get your friends together for craft night. Choose a beautiful outside venue that requires less decorating. Cut the bar costs by offering specialty cocktails instead of a full open bar. Picking the right wedding date can also help your budget. The spring and summer months are peak wedding times and will be more difficult to negotiate your costs. You might be able to reduce costs by getting married on a Friday or Sunday, or around certain holidays – if it works for you and your guests. Think of ways to find dual usage out of things, for example escort cards presented in frames or potted plants can double as favors.
One last thing – don’t forget to add in tax, gratuity, and delivery charges. If you don’t pre-plan for this, it can easily add a 20% surprise increase to your budget. It might even be helpful to add in a small cushion for unforeseen expenses for those just-in-case situations.
The budget is not the fun and creative part of wedding planning, but it is essential, regardless of who is paying. We offer our clients a budget template, but you can find some great ones online as well. Make sure you check back with us for more helpful planning and budget tips along the way.