So, you said “yes,” you made the announcement, and you’re beyond excited to spend the rest of your lives together. Now, it’s time to start planning for the big day!
Preparing for your wedding is one of the most exciting times of your life, but if you’re not careful, it can also be one of the most stressful. Thankfully, with a little planning and careful budgeting in advance, you can make sure your big day is every bit as beautiful and memorable as you want it to be.
To help you make it happen, check out our guide to a few essential things to keep in mind when you’re building your budget:
Choose a Venue
Your venue is the backdrop for your big moment, so it’s important to choose something that fits your ambiance and your budget. Venues can range from simple event spaces in country clubs to extravagant locations in faraway destinations, so you’ll want to consider how large of a space you need and what kind of theme you’ll be going for.
No matter what type of venue you choose, the venue is often the most expensive part of the wedding, so deciding this early will help you allocate the rest of your budget for all the extras!
Explore Catering Options
Food is a huge part of many weddings, and it can wind up being one of the most expensive parts, too! There are a lot of different factors that determine the cost of food and drinks at your wedding, like:
- How many people are eating?
- What type of dishes do you want to serve?
- How many options do you want to give guests?
- Is it provided by the venue or is there outside catering?
- Will there be an open bar?
- Are you serving appetizers before the reception starts?
Try to answer all these questions as best you can before you start talking to caterers so you can get an accurate quote as you budget.
Don’t Forget the Cake
The cake is often one of the most memorable parts of the wedding, and it’s certainly not cheap! In most cases, you won’t be getting your cake from the same people who cater your wedding, so you’ll need to explore different bakeries to find someone who can create what you’re looking for. Cake can be an elaborate centerpiece of the reception or a simple slice with a candle—it can be as simple or as over-the-top as you want it to be.
Photographer and Videographer
Capturing your wedding on film and on video allows you and your guests to look back and enjoy the special moments. It’s not just about having someone who can take great photos or videos—you want to make sure they’re a good fit for you and your fiancé.
The first step in finding a photographer who will meet all of your needs and expectations is to determine what kind of style appeals to you. You don’t want someone whose work looks nothing like yours or your fiancé’s vision for the day. If something doesn’t feel right from their portfolio, try some other photographers before settling on any one person.
Once you’ve narrowed down your list based on style and price point, research each choice by looking at reviews online or asking around with friends who may have used them in the past. Once again, use this as an opportunity to see how each professional works with clients—do they offer helpful suggestions? Are they easygoing and highly organized?
Find an Officiant
Finding a wedding officiant can be one of the most difficult decisions you make while planning your wedding, and they may make up a significant portion of your budget, too. After all, there are so many things to consider: your religious beliefs, family traditions, and what your guests will expect along with the price.
Booking the Entertainment
Will there be a band or a DJ at your wedding and at your reception? A live band will give you professional musicians who can play all of your favorite songs and bring the magic of live music to your event. The downside is that they tend to be expensive because of all the overhead costs associated with their performance.
On the other hand, DJs tend to be less expensive. They also have many more sources from which they can pull music libraries while maintaining consistency throughout the night’s events; plus their equipment is usually portable enough not to limit where they perform so long as you have power. There are also wedding entertainers who play some live music while balancing the other time with DJ sets.
If you want it to be, your wedding entertainment can be a significant chunk of your budget, or you can keep costs to a minimum with a DJ. It’s all up to your budget and the kind of atmosphere you want your big day to have.
Decorations and Favors
Decorations and favors are one of the most fun parts of planning a wedding because you can get creative and do something unique that will make your celebration stand out. You can choose from any number of themes, but if you’re on a budget, it’s important to keep an eye on what works for your venue and guest list.
If you’re on a tight budget, consider renting or borrowing items instead of purchasing them outright. It’s also better to have fewer decorations than more; this way guests can enjoy the space rather than be overwhelmed by too many things at once. You can also consider using live plants as a decoration instead of expensive arrangements created by a florist.
Consider a Wedding Planner
Will you plan everything on your own or hire a wedding planner to help you figure out all the details? Wedding planners are experts at coordinating weddings and planning things down to the smallest details which can help lift the burden off of your shoulders.
While wedding planners do charge for their services, many also partner with vendors, caterers, and event venues, getting you discounted rates on some big-ticket items.
Legalities and a Prenuptial Agreement
In addition to planning all the fun stuff, there are some legal fees you’ll need to pay for your big day. The cost for a marriage license varies by state and town, but usually costs between $20-$100. There are also fees associated with legally changing your name.
And as you prepare to merge your separate lives into one, creating a prenuptial agreement is a great way to have open and honest communication, protect your individual assets, protect yourself from debt, along with protecting your children and your business if you have them. Thankfully, this doesn’t need to be an extravagant cost—HelloPrenup offers couples an affordable way to create your prenup and gain peace of mind as you plan for the future.
While there are no hard-and-fast rules about how much money should go toward any one aspect of your wedding, you can assume that the reception and the ceremony will take up a large portion of your budget. Decide early on what’s most important to you both and budget for those priorities first before filling in the rest. With a little planning and coordination, budgeting for your big day will be a breeze!
Julia Rodgers is HelloPrenup’s CEO and Co-Founder. She is a Massachusetts family law attorney and true believer in the value of prenuptial agreements. HelloPrenup was created with the goal of automating the prenup process, making it more collaborative, time efficient and cost effective. Julia believes that a healthy marriage is one in which couples can openly communicate about finances and life goals. You can read more about us here Questions? Reach out to Julia directly at [email protected].