Guide to Creating a Wedding Budget

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From Brides.com – Notice anything missing from this??? Like the ceremony costs?

When you first get engaged, it’s all about the beautiful dress, the hunt for the perfect venue, the best Officiant in the area, and deciding on your wedding party. The last thing you want to do is have to think about a budget but, unfortunately, it’s an important part of the wedding planning process. Trust me…I get it. Sitting down to plan a budget makes me break out in a cold sweat, but I have never regretted doing it in the end.

A wedding budget will ensure that you’re spending wisely and that you and your fiancé don’t need to have any awkward conversations about money later on. Plus, the more you can save, the more money you’ll have for an amazing honeymoon, or house, or building your savings.

Many couples also tend to think that creating a budget means you’re never going to be able to have the wedding of your dreams but in actual fact, having a budget forces you to think out the box, get more creative and stay on track at the same time, something that every couple is thankful for after their big day.

Here are a few tips that you can use to stay on track financially as you create the budget for your wedding.

Chat about the details

Before you can start putting a budget together, you and your fiancé will need to chat about your vision for the day. Start making a note of all the expenses that you know you’ll need to factor in based on the type of wedding you’re looking to create. This includes everything from the cake and outfits to your transport and the venue.

Once you have everything in a spreadsheet (or notebook or ask me for my wedding guide!) you can start deciding who is going to pay for what. Remember to include any contributions that your parents might be making too. Now that you know what your budget is, tick off the items that are a priority and mark the items that might need to take a backseat or be removed completely. Make sure that you use this spreadsheet to keep track of all of your expenses so that you can stick to your budget. 

ProTip! Do some research first to find out what vendors actually cost. Deciding you have a $100 budget for your Officiant when in reality Officiants usually cost in the range of $400 will cause some frustration on your end.

Speak up

As you start researching and enquiring with various venues and vendors, chat to them about your budget and what options they have that would fit in with what you can afford. Ask as many questions as you need to so that you’re not signing up for something that might come with added expenses later on and ask to see the entire quote in writing so you can refer back to it any time.

This conversation is helpful because you might LOVE a venue but can’t afford a full sit down dinner for 200 – they might have options like a buffet or cocktail style reception that costs less per person.

When my husband and I were getting married in 2003 the venue we chose had a top shelf of whiskey and knowing we had a handful of guests and family members who would want that we asked about the price. We were told it’s $5 per person for a total of $500 for our 100 guests. We weren’t willing to pay $500 for what might amount to fewer than 10 drinks so I asked if I could print tickets and give them out to our whiskey drinkers and just pay for those drinks at the end of the night. I stared at the venue manager until he agreed and we saved $450. Don’t be afraid to negotiate on things you know a limited number of guests will want.

Work with a buffer

Working with a buffer is one of the best ways for you to stay on track.  Try and work with a buffer of at least 5% so that you still have some budget leftover for any last-minute expenses and splurges. For example, if your wedding budget is $50,000, work on a budget of $47,500.

At the starting stages of wedding planning no one ever has the complete list on the first draft. There are always incidentals – sure you budgeted for your cake, but did you budget for the cake knife and lifter? These little costs add up!

Pay sooner rather than later

The sooner you can start paying venues and vendors, the better. Knowing that expenses are already taken care of can really relieve some of the planning pressure. Remember to use your spreadsheet to keep track of all payments that you’ve already made so that you know how much you’re still able to spend.

Don’t forget to read your contracts with every vendor! You will want to know what happens if you cancel or change the date. Will the vendor return all of your money? Will they keep the retainer/deposit? What happens if they aren’t available for your new date? In this day and age – these are all very important things to know. I have had couples tell me they are one million percent committed to their date and time and as we get closer and they realize they can’t have everything and everyone they wanted at their wedding, they suddenly aren’t as committed – find out if there are penalties or extra expenses should that happen!

Cash in on credit card rewards

Before you start making payments towards your wedding, try and find out about any credit card reward offers that you might be able to take advantage of. Many credit card companies offer clients points that can be exchanged for cash or vacation miles, something that will really come in handy when planning your honeymoon.

Also, dig out all of your points cards for the stores you love (like that famous cosmetics store!!!) and see where you can buy items and supplies for your wedding to maximize your points to use later on!

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