Everyone had big elaborate plans for their dream wedding day, however, all those details can add up from a financial standpoint. Here's our advice on budgeting for your wedding and ensuring you execute your big event without going broke.
Setting Your Total Budget
- Discuss who will be contributing- Have either of your parents' offered to help? Will you and your fiance be splitting the tab? Make sure you have an open conversation with your fiance and your families, and be clear on amounts to be contributed. Remember that money from family sometimes comes with strings attached- parents can invite their friends or feel entitled to choose your wedding dress, for example. Make sure you emphasize that it is your wedding and that while you appreciate their financial contributions, you would like to have final say in all decisions. Setting expectations early on can avoid disagreement and heartache later.
- Decide on total amount- Once you have an idea of who will be contributing and how much you and your fiance are able to spend, you can develop a total budget. Total wedding budgets can vary tremendously based on location, number of guests, and bride & groom lifestyles. Some couples can execute their dream wedding with only a few thousand dollars and others spend hundreds of thousands of dollars. The last thing you want to be doing right after you get married is digging yourself out of debt, so remember to only spend what you feel comfortable you can afford and pay off.
Allocating Budget by Category
- Draft your guest list- Since many costs are dependent on the number of attendees, such as food/beverage costs and number of centerpieces, it is important to have an idea of how many people you plan to invite.
- Research vendors and get estimates- Getting estimates for what you are looking for in your local area is critical. You may not have a realistic idea of the average cost of a photographer or flowers until you ask around.
- Compile estimates to form your detailed budget- It is best practice to get several estimates from each type of vendor so that you can compare their services and price shop. Once you select a vendor, keep an ongoing list of total wedding estimates by category. We suggest using software like Excel so that you can keep the estimates organized as well as easily calculate differences between vendors.
- Use this guide for a breakdown of budget by category:
|Pie Chart created by Christie|
Tracking Your Actual Expenses
- Analyze budget vs. actuals- Once you decide on vendors and finalize the cost of their services, it is important to keep track of actual expenses for each category and compare to your initial budget. Calculate any variances so that if you wind up spending more in one category, you can utilize excess from another category or cut back elsewhere.
- Calculate total spend- Once you have contracted with all of your vendors and know exactly how much each will cost, calculate total spend and ensure that it is within your original budgeted amount.
No matter what, enjoy the wedding planning process knowing that you have made one of the first important financial decisions together as a couple!