Picking a wedding budget is one of the more difficult parts of wedding planning. Most people have no idea how much weddings cost and how much goes into a wedding, unless they’ve planned one themselves (and unless you're a wedding planner or were already married, you probably haven't!)
How to Pick Your Wedding Budget
But if you’re planning to have a ceremony and reception, it’s important to set a reasonable budget and stick to it, so you don’t end up in debt once you’re married. Money is one of the biggest causes of stress in a relationship and in general, so planning ahead and being reasonable is crucial to happy wedding planning.
Wedding Budgeting 101
Here’s some tips I’ve picked up on during the process of choosing our own budget:
Consider who is contributing. Are you as a couple paying for it yourselves? Or is one or both family contributing? This will be the largest factor in determining your overall budget. Talk to your families separately to ease any tension and figure out who’s paying for what.
Figure out how much you and your spouse can save. Set aside a savings account that each of you will contribute to every week or every month. Determine how much each of you can afford to save (and don’t get too crazy - be reasonable!) You’ll be surprised how quickly your savings adds up. Get a savings account with a high interest rate to save even more!
Decide on your priorities. Do you want to spend a lot of money on a formal venue or are you more concerned with food? Does a backyard wedding sound appealing or do you want a ballroom? Do you want custom invitations or will you buy them from an online store? These factors will drastically change what your ideal budget will have to be.
Write out your guest list. Every person you invite to your wedding will cost you money. That’s why you don’t want to invite your 5th cousins (unless you’re close with them!) and all your friends from high school you haven’t seen in 8 years. The guest list is the main thing that will increase or decrease your wedding costs, so it’s important to only invite those who you really want to celebrate with you. Also remember, you can probably expect around 10-15% to not attend.
Pick a time to get married. Some seasons are more expensive to get married during, just because they’re in high-demand. Saturday evening weddings are usually more expensive, whereas many places will offer discounts for Friday or Sunday weddings. Having an afternoon reception will cut down on bar and food costs, since the menus will be lighter.
Don’t pay attention to average wedding costs. This one was a big one for me. I kept seeing the average wedding cost is over $30k and I knew immediately we couldn’t afford something like that. So of course, this was kind of stressful. But the reality of it is that the average is extremely skewed by lavish, expensive weddings or weddings in large cities. Some weddings in high profile locations can cost upwards of $75k! The truth is, most weddings are actually in the $10k - $20k range. Depending on where you live and what your wedding style is, this will vary greatly. Look into vendors in your area to get an idea of what you can expect to spend, depending on what decisions you make for venue, food, etc.
Bonus Tip! Most vendors will need at least a rough guest count before they can give you a quote, so it’s important to work out your rough guest list before contacting vendors.
Download a budget app. I prefer The Knot app to keep track of my budget and get an idea of how much I’ll be able to spend on certain things. I love The Knot app because it outlines every possible thing you’ll need - many things I hadn’t yet considered when setting a budget. It’s not just the venue, food, bar, favors, etc. There’s gifts for your bridal party, decorations, rentals, tips for vendors.. so much that is often forgotten. This will help put things in perspective when you finally settle on a reasonable budget.
Be prepared for the unexpected. It’s a good idea to set a little extra aside in your budget just in case. Unexpected things happen all the time during wedding planning, and the more prepared you are, the less stressful it will be.
And remember, it’s not just about the money. You get the marry the love of your life, and whether that takes place in a court house, backyard, or lavish ballroom, the day will be perfect.