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5 Easy Steps to Complete Your Wedding Budget

Deciding how to create a wedding budget can be tricky, especially when it's your first time planning such a big event.

Creating a wedding budget is a challenging task. Your wedding will most likely be the most extravagant party you've ever hosted – the most expensive! To create a budget, you'll need to add up your savings, and keep a detailed spreadsheet so you don't go over budget during the planning process. And this'll help you plan for unexpected costs, and make meaningful cuts if you do go over. We know it can be difficult, but putting in the time and effort now will ensure you'll live happily ever after (wedding-debt free).

wedding budget

Here's how to create a wedding budget that you can stick to.

Step 1: Count Your Money

The amount of money available for the wedding is directly proportional to three sources of funding:

Individual savings from you and your fiancé: This isn't as straightforward as checking your bank account. Ideally, you and your partner should have three months' worth of living expenses set aside in case of job loss or illness (separate from retirement funds). Subtract your emergency fund balance from your total bank balance to determine how much you can put toward wedding expenses.

Set money aside: After you've paid off existing debts, such as student loans, set aside up to 10% of your monthly earnings. Set up direct deposits into a separate account for wedding expenses so that you aren't just saving leftovers.

Contributions from loved ones: Never assume your parents or other loved ones are willing and able to help cover the cost of a wedding; however, it never hurts to ask.

Step 2: Keep Track of Your Spending

Make a spreadsheet with three columns for expenses: estimated, modified, and actual. Estimated amounts will be determined by researching costs in your area, Modified amounts will be determined by proposals from suppliers you select, and actual amounts will be determined by the final amount you pay.

After calling in suppliers costs, revise your estimates. Begin with the venue because it is the most important aspect of the wedding and a major factor in determining the number of guests you can invite.

Check to see if tax is included when suppliers give you estimates. If not, perform your own calculations using the tax rates to adjust the proposal.

Add a line item called Extras that equals 15% of your total budget to account for things you're likely to forget (invitation postage, parking) or won't anticipate ahead of time (corkage for example). Never spend this money up front; you'll need it as incidentals arise throughout the planning process. Believe us.

wedding budget

Step 3: Be Prepared for Surprising Events

Before you sign on the dotted line of supplier contracts or begin stuff for gift bags, read the small print because those little expenses can quickly add up.

Transportation for Suppliers

Considering hiring a non-local band or photographer? A rental van or plane tickets may be required. Check the contract to see what is specifically covered.

Fees for setup and teardown

Clean-up isn't always included, and depending on when your reception ends, you may have to pay overtime.

Cocktails Created for Your Wedding

Signature drinks and spirits can quickly add up, especially when hosting a party for 200 or more people.

Digital Photography Access

Some photographers charge an additional fee to view and share your photographs online.

Stuffing Envelopes

Some stationers charge a fee per invitation. To save money, invite your bridesmaids over, pour some wine, and DIY them instead.

Step 4: Spend Responsibly 

Don't overextend yourself with credit cards, no matter how tempting it is. Never charge anything that you won't be able to pay off within 30 days. Unless you qualify for a card that allows you to avoid interest payments if you pay off your entire balance within a certain time frame (usually from 12 months).

Before you swipe the plastic, make a plan for how you intend to accomplish this. For example, you could ask for cash gifts to put toward a portion of the wedding and create a savings plan to cover the remainder.

Step 5: Find Ways to Save

These suggestions will significantly reduce your spending.

Change the location.

Raw spaces like barns and warehouses appear to be a steal, but you could end up spending a lot of money making them wedding-worthy. You may need to bring in tables, chairs, china, glassware, silverware, catering kitchen equipment, and possibly even toilets and heating/air conditioning.

Before you make a decision, calculate the total cost of a wedding at that location versus one that includes all the essentials.

Change the guest list.

When you consider the invitation, gift bag, transportation, slice of cake, and so on, each attendee costs far more than his or her meal. Have no B-list and be ruthless with your A-list. Shrinking the guest list by 15 people for a 150-person reception will save you around £1000.

Go off-season.

Have your wedding in the winter. Choose either a Friday or a Sunday. Alternatively, instead of hosting a four-course wine-paired dinner, celebrate with some prosecco over brunch.

Make time for it.

Many couples are willing to extend their engagement in order to save for the wedding of their dreams. When suppliers know you're in a time crunch, negotiating becomes much more difficult.

Organize the ceremony and reception in the same location.

This could save the wedding party and guests a lot of money on transportation.

Skip the live band.

The big-name ones can charge a lot, whereas a DJ will almost always be less expensive.

Purchase your own stationery.

This includes ordering or making your own wedding invitations and inserts. Later on, you'll be ordering place cards, table numbers, and possibly programmes, among other things. Many of these tasks can now be completed at home by using domestic technology. 

The soon-to-be newly-weds select appropriate paper (most companies online will send free samples) and print them on their own printer before assembling, stuffing, and posting them. Even if you decide to order printed materials from a stationer, make sure you do it yourself. When you have your wedding planner assist or do it for you, it will cost you more, either because of their markup or because they will most likely receive commission.

Address your own invitations.

Paying for calligraphy is not cheap. If you absolutely must have calligraphy on your invitations, consider purchasing a calligraphy pen and practising until you master it. It isn't all that difficult. Only an expert would notice that it wasn't done professionally. There are numerous tutorials available online as a starting point.

Upgrades should be avoided.

Saying no to unnecessary upgrades is another important strategy for how to budget for a wedding. Take what comes with the package or the cheapest option you can afford. Couples frequently overspend because they dislike the design of white-on-white tablecloths, for example. Or they are unable to sit in the chairs provided for the ceremony.


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