While we know it’s not necessarily a “fun” topic to be thinking about, your budget plays the most critical role in your wedding planning process. No matter what type of wedding you currently have your heart set on, you’ll need to keep all of your plans in line with your bank account. That’s not an easy task when you don’t have a plan of attack. So today, we’re sharing a guide for how to create a realistic wedding budget, helping you to keep your spending in check and focused on what you really care about. Read on, and get ready to talk money!
What Kind of Wedding Do You Want?
The first thing to determine is the kind of wedding you wish to have. Do you dream of having a black-tie wedding? Sharing backyard open-air “I Do’s”? Jetting off for a destination celebration? By clarifying your vision for the event, you’ll start to create a clear picture for everything that you need to account for in your budget.
Think About How Many People You Plan To Invite
Will you keep your guest list small and intimate, or will you invite everyone from your favorite school teacher to your Mama’s cousins? The more people you invite, the more you’ll spend in all areas of your wedding. With every additional guest, you’ll have additional save-the-dates and invites to order, place settings to set, food and drinks to serve, and favors to purchase.
Use an Online Budget Tool
Don’t feel like you need to recreate the wheel. There are dozens of free wedding budget tools that you can find through a simple Google search. Our favorites are: The Knot, WeddingWire, and A Practical Wedding’s Google Spreadsheet template. Any of these tools will show you the big things you’ll likely be spending on during the wedding, along with estimates of how much every line item will cost for the number of guests you’re planning to have attend.
Get a Full Picture Number
In other words, find out who all will be contributing to the wedding, and ask them exactly how much money they are offering. Add that to how much is going to come out of your pocket, and you have a great starting point to intelligently be able to work from, rather than making decisions in the dark.
Prioritize Your Must-Haves
Have yourself and your fiancé each make a separate short list of things you two definitely want to have at your wedding. (Shoot for 8-10 priorities that are all things you feel most strongly about.) From there, sit down together and talk honestly about your desires and expectations to try to cull your list of priorities down to 4 or 5 so you have the means to really focus your limited budget on making those things the best they can be. If you’re having trouble cutting things out, consult your wedding planner for some help!
When Shawn and I got married, these were the things that ultimately completed our final Must-Have’s list:
- A waterfront venue that had perfected the art of relaxed, but luxurious Southern hospitality.
- Custom designed wedding invitations and stationery.
- A fine art photographer and a storytelling-style videographer who both specialized in capturing personal, intimate moments.
- Macaroni & cheese bar. Ice cream.
- An open bar and lively dance party.
Once you’ve got your list down to a top 4-5 agreed upon “Must-Have’s”, set a maximum amount of money you are willing to spend on each. That way, you won’t waste time looking into venues or vendors outside of your price point, and when you are talking to vendors of interest, you have a max number in your head that you can use for smart negotiations.
Don’t Forget the Easily Forgettables
There are a bunch of costs that you don’t think about upfront, but can quickly sneak up on you. Create a buffer in your budget that will be able to cover what we call the “easily forgettables”. These are different for every wedding, but some that we see commonly include:
- Hotel room for the bride and groom for the night before and night of the wedding
- Postage stamps
- Wedding dress alterations and steaming
- Marriage license fee
- Thank you gifts for parents and bridal party
- Food and drinks for getting ready
- Day-of stationery (programs, place cards, menu cards, and escort cards)
- Vendor meals
- Taxes and tips for wedding vendors
We recommend setting aside 10-20% of your overall budget for the “easily forgettables” of your own wedding planning experience, ensuring you are ready for whatever comes your way.Wed + Wander Co. Wedding Planning Tip
Check out more of our wedding planning tips HERE.