When I first sit down with my couples to start the planning process, I ask them a series of questions that will help me customize and optimize their wedding budget, and today I am going to share some insight on preparing the wedding budget with you. In this article, we will cover:
- Who is contributing to your wedding budget?
- How much do you comfortably have to spend?
- How many guests are you entertaining?
- Where do you want to get married?
- When do you want to get married?
- What style or type of event you would like to have?
Budgets can also be a huge stressor during the wedding process. So often I hear married friends talk about how they blew their wedding budget while planning the wedding themselves, but how much you spend doesn't have to be a surprise if you work with a wedding planning professional to create a realistic and practical budget.
Who all will be contributing to the wedding budget?
Long gone is the notion that the bride’s family has to be the host of the wedding day. If you are traditional and the bride’s family is funding the wedding, that is totally fine! It is also perfectly acceptable for the couple to host the event themselves, for it to be a joint effort between the couple and their families, or for other family members to pitch in as well. Be aware that, if someone invests their money in your wedding day, they might want to have some sort of control over certain decisions. Set expectations from the beginning about who has the final say in all wedding planning decisions. Setting realistic budget and decision making expectations from the beginning of the planning process will avoid painful conversations later on in the process, helping you have an enjoyable engagement and keep all of your key players relaxed and happy.
How much do you comfortably have to spend?
As a marriage-focused wedding planner, I never suggest going into debt while planning your wedding. Your wedding budget should consist of what money you and all of the contributing parties have to spend. Of course, this is a personal choice, so if you have decided that you want to use credit or take out a loan to pay for the wedding, just make sure you are both on board. The first year of marriage can be difficult as you learn to combine your finances and adjust to your new roles. Not only that, but the two of you might already have loans that you are paying off. Bottom line - spend what you feel comfortable spending, but make sure you are both okay with paying back anything you borrow. If budget isn’t an issue for you, partnering with a wedding planner and discussing your wedding in detail will help give you a great idea about how much your wedding will cost based on your expectations and desires.
How many guests are you trying to entertain?
I cannot emphasize this enough - Your guest count is one of the largest factors in your wedding budget. More people = more tables, more chairs, more bar packages, more alcohol, more linens, more meals… you get the picture. Each of these things is typically a per-person cost. The more people you invite, the more money you spend. Consider this when you are on the fence about an invite, and be sure that if you or a family member increases your guest count mid-planning, that you are prepared to increase the budget appropriately. Once your vendors are already booked, you will likely be contractually obligated to pay a certain portion of the proposal amount, making it hard to recoup and/or shift those funds. This is an easy way to over spend. Creating a solid, agreed-upon guest count in the early stages of planning that won't fluctuate too much throughout the planning process is an simple way to keep you on track.
Where do you want to get married?
The cost of getting married varies greatly based on your location. If you are getting married in a popular location/city, you will spend more than a person who is getting married in a rural area. Certain cities have higher average wedding budgets than others. Your venue also plays a huge role in the cost of your wedding. If they require you to use their bar packages, one specific caterer, or one specific florist, you are not able to shop around for those folks. If they charge a premium price, you have committed to pay it. The cost of the wedding is often higher at these locations. Venues also might have minimums on catering and beverage costs that you need to meet or pay for on peak days. Make sure you consider all of these costs before you choose your venue, or incorporate them into your budget if a certain venue is on your must-have list.
When do you want to get married?
Sometimes, the time of year can affect how much you spend as well. If it is not “wedding season,” you might be able to save some money. This isn’t always the case, and I can reveal that in Atlanta, where I live, it is pretty much wedding season all year long because the weather is nice almost all year long. Friday and Sunday weddings are becoming increasingly popular because venues get booked on Saturdays very quickly and/or you can save money on certain venues and vendors. Again, this is not always the case! Don't assume that a vendor will give you a discount for a non-Saturday wedding date, but be gracious if a discount is offered.
What type of event do you want to have?
If you want to have a black-tie, ballroom wedding with a seated, served meal and a 10-piece band, you are going to spend more than if you want to have a rustic, barn wedding with food stations and a DJ. Both can be beautiful, amazing, and elegant, but one will definitely cost more than the other! Be aware that the style of your event can greatly impact how much you will spend, and budget accordingly.
Creating your wedding budget is one of the first steps you take when planning your wedding, and there are many factors that will go into your budget's bottom line. If you are feeling lost and confused about allocating or creating your budget, and if you want to be sure that the money you spend on your big day is optimally invested, bringing a wedding planner into the mix can help give you peace of mind and clarity. Are you ready to take the confusion out of wedding budgeting and have confidence spending your hard-earned money? Do you want your to have a wedding that is beautiful and fun, and one that guests will rave about, while also staying on budget? Click below to schedule a complimentary consultation with us to discuss how we can help with this, and more!