Wedding Planning – How to Budget

Budgeting for a wedding seems to be really difficult for a lot of couples.

How do you do it you ask? Well, I could say, “The answer to that is easy, how much do you have?” and then sign off. But noooooooo.

It is vital that you both sit down and discuss this. Get yourselves straight because setting the budget for your wedding could also be your first encounter with family diplomacy.

Wedding Planning - How to Budget money tree

Modern weddings don’t use the ole etiquette “who pays for what” rule so much anymore. But if your families are willing to help, and they agree, great! You, (you lucky girl,) can move on to the budget break down.

For the others, I have to refer to the first question above. How much do you have in savings? How much more can you save? How much will your parents contribute, if anything? Do you plan on taking a partial loan? That is the bottom line. Please do not put yourself deep in debt for your wedding or use credit cards to fund it. There are plenty of ways to have a fabulous wedding without going into debt for life.

Depending on your relationships with your parents you might ask them if they will contribute but if you don’t feel comfortable with that and they don’t come forward to offer then don’t be hopeful and don’t plan on it. Just leave it out. You may find it a nice bonus if they do come forward later but whatever the contribution or not, be understanding, gracious and grateful.

So you have sat down and discussed everything, do your sums and know how much money you have. Now it’s time to set priorities. This is very important. You need to sit down as a couple and decide the things that are most important to you. I like to have it narrowed down to 3 main items. Your most important priorities may be: inviting everyone you know, having a room full of flowers, making sure you have a great photographer, a great venue, great food (although those two should really be gotten in one), lively entertainment or anything else you deem as important and don’t want to economize  on.

Now you need to break things down into specific categories.  I have a template myself where you just pop in your total amount and I’m happy to send it on to you if you contact me but there are some very good online and automatic wedding budget calculators (The  Knot has a good one as does where you put in your total budget, number of guests (you can play with this a bit to see how much more you get when you lower your guests list) number of attendants and it breaks the budget down into how much you should spend on each category. Keep in mind that you may not need all of the categories (traditions can be different on these American sites) so omit them and add in your set fees like registrar’s fees of €150.

At this point, you will need to have an idea of how much stuff costs. This is vital because you are now realistic about how much money you have and you must know the median price of the cost of services and vendors. Ring around a bit and ask. Seriously. Ring 2 or 3 photographers or florists or bands or wedding planners etc. You can’t get the best for your budget if you don’t know how much stuff costs so go into vendor searching with some knowledge!

In general and you will see on the calculators, the bulk of the budget will go on the reception food and wine.  Generally upwards of 45% and it this is one of your priorities, nearer 50%. Your wedding gown, veil and alterations {don’t forget to budget for your alterations} are around 6%, Invitations and stationery about 2%, photography about 10%; I could go on but you can see how quickly things add up and make sure you have a contingency set aside too. Even with the greatest of restraint, there are so many beautiful things that you can always spend that extra Euro and unexpected things do come up!

I recommend opening a wedding bank account. Put in what you have now, any contributions from families and add with savings every week or month.  Your amount will add up nicely as long as you continue to save and you can better track what is going in and out of one account.

That should get you started and next week we will talk about point two. Tackling your guest list!

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