Your wedding budget is a largely important (and stressful) conversation that must be had with your partner, and very early on. Below are some general tips to help you formulate a realistic and efficient budget.
Your budget will determine almost every aspect of your wedding, from the attire to the vendors, so it needs to be given a lot of thought. Planning a wedding without an organized budget can cause more stress and lead to excessive and sporadic spending.
DETERMINE YOUR OVERALL BUDGET
You firstly need to determine an overall budget which is the grand total of all the wedding expenses. If your parents are paying for the entire wedding, the overall budget is of course up to them, but they may ask what you think is reasonable, so be sure to do some preliminary research. If you are paying out of pocket yourselves, the overall budget depends on how much money you have saved already, if you plan to take out any credit cards for the wedding, and how much spare income you have at the end of each month. It is important to keep in mind that you do not pay your entire wedding cost in one lump sum. Almost every vendor, including venues, require an initial deposit and then subsequent payments with the total to be paid about 30 days prior to the wedding. So, your wedding costs will be paid somewhat gradually between now and your wedding date. This will ease some of the initial shock when you are researching average wedding costs and trying to figure out how in the world you are going to come up with $30,000+.
BREAK DOWN YOUR BUDGET INTO CATEGORIES
Once you settle on an overall wedding budget, the next step is to break down your budget into categories. To do this, you must first determine your wedding priorities by ordering each category. For some, the dress is most important and are willing to spend the most money on it, for others it’s the food or venue. So, before you start talking numbers with your partner, you both first need to mutually decide your priority list. Use the attached Budget Worksheet below to prioritize each component.
RESEARCH LOCAL COSTS
Once each category is numbered in order of priority, research average costs in your area. First, look at statistics on sites like WeddingWire for average local costs. Then look at pricing from a few local vendors in your area and see how the pricing correlates with their inclusions and quality. This should help you determine how much you are willing to spend on each category whether it be a bit under or over the local average.
TRACK YOUR SPENDING
As you book vendors, be sure to notate your actual spending cost on the Budget Worksheet. This way you can visually compare what you expected to spend versus what you actually spent. If you go over or under budget on a category, be sure to adjust the difference in another category. If you get a deal on your florist and save $100, you can repurpose that money and increase another category’s budget by $100. The opposite applies if you go over budget.
SET A MONTHLY BUDGET
I recommend also setting a monthly budget for yourselves. We can get really excited shopping for venue décor, wedding party gifts, etc. and end up spending hundreds or thousands of dollars in one month and now you’re strapped for rent. Having a monthly budget will help you stay on track and slow your spending pace.
PLAN FOR THE UNEXPECTED
Know that there will always be unexpected costs and unplanned purchases so be sure to allot a few extra hundred dollars under "Miscellaneous" so that it is already accounted for.
Overall, do not let your budget cause overwhelming stress and drive a wedge between you and your partner. If you are organized and communicate with each other, everything will work out!