You’re in-love. Someone proposed, someone said yes, and now there is a whole new life of “us” ready to get started! Planning your wedding can be one of the most exciting projects of your life…and often one of the most challenging. Visions of lace, gourmet meals, and all-night dancing can become quite the puzzle to solve when you stop to figure out how much your dream wedding is going to cost.
Some lucky couples get to plan their wedding with “sky’s the limit” budgets. More often than not, the realities of wedding expenses can create a need for compromise and prioritization. Other couples choose to postpone their special day until they can comfortably make it happen financially.
If you would rather say your vows sooner than later, all you need is careful planning. Know your budget and your preferences well before you actually plan the day. There are many options for having a fun-filled wedding and all of them won’t call for spending a fortune. Most importantly, know your resources and set your priorities in advance so that you have your blue print ready for planning.
Setting the Budget
The budget dictates the total dollars a couple can reasonably spend on their wedding. It is incredibly important that both partners agree on the amount available to spend. Unresolved disagreements on the wedding budget can lead to frustration, resentment, and tears. Work the numbers and find a budget you can both live with happily.
Setting the wedding budget is not very difficult if you know your finances and priorities. You need to examine your current financial situation carefully and consider:
- Will parents or relatives be making a contributions to the wedding budget?
- How much do you already have saved for the wedding?
- What total amount will you have budgeted by the time you need to start making deposits (usually many months before the actual wedding date).
- Are you willing and able to go into debt to pay for your wedding?
- Can you live with the financial commitment and potential sacrifices required to put together your wedding budget?
How much money you need for your wedding depends largely on your vision for your wedding. A good place to start is with the “knows”.
- Know what you must have
- Know what you definitely don’t want
- Know what can be compromised
When you have a clear vision of what your ideal wedding must include, it allows to prioritize your wedding budget. For example, if you must have a lobster and steak dinner, then perhaps you can offset the cost of an expensive dinner by choosing an affordable DJ rather than a live band.
Review the following expense categories, and then begin to allocate the dollars in your budget. Start with your best estimates and make adjustments as you, as a couple, agree on priorities and make choices in each area.
- The venue. The venue may cost anything between normal to exorbitant and it will likely be your biggest expense. Consider the cost of the venue the base of your entire budget. Set aside the funds for the venue and then plan for the rest of the events.
- The Dress. Yes, the groom needs to look nice too, but realistically the bride’s dress is likely to cost 2 to 10 times more than the groom’s entire outfit. In the case of two brides, the cost is double!
- Food, food, and food. We hear all the time that the blissful couple was so excited, they never had a bite to eat all night. You may not eat, but your guests will. Many guests consider a delicious dinner fair trade for getting dressed up and bringing a swanky gift. When building your budget, be sure to consider seasonality, the catering options at the venue, and the dietary customs of your guests.
- Considered a must for most weddings, flowers can range from a small cost to major expense. If you have your heart set on exotic blooms, get quotes early and understand any extra costs of shipping and storing non-native plants and flowers.
- The age-old wedding quandary: DJ versus Live Band. When deciding, it’s important to consider the rules of the venue, local noise ordinances, and cultural customs. Make sure you ask a lot of questions and find out if Master of Ceremony services, lighting, special effects, and a dance floor are included in the price or must be paid a-la-carte.
- Involve the guests. If you are working on a limited budget, consider how the guests may help cut some costs. A recent option is to limit professional photographs to a post-ceremony shoot and rely on guests to take reception pictures. Does one of your guests have an amazing beach house or access to a club that can host the wedding? Talented guests can often help offset the cost of a: Justice of the Peace, Caterer, Flower Shop, Videographer, Limousine, Hotel Stay, and much more.
- Consider a wedding planner. I know, I know, you think we are cheating by saying this. We’re not. Experienced wedding planners have excellent contacts in the local area, often get steep discounts, and can guide you to off-season savings. A wedding planner is also an objective project manager who can help you avoid blowing your budget with emotional spending.
Summing up the planning
Communication and honesty are critical when it comes to creating your wedding budget. Be upfront of what you really need to have in the wedding for your special day to be complete. Then prioritize your needs and start creating estimates. Understand your sources of funding and divide your budget by categories. Once you make a commitment to your budget, only make changes if you both agree and perhaps get guidance from a third party who can help keep you on track. It takes work, but your wedding day is worth it.
If you find the task of budgeting for your wedding overwhelming or confusing, give us a call. We have over 28 years of experience with creating amazing weddings with a broad range of budgets. We’ll be happy to speak with you and determine how we can help you have a Grand Event!