Planning a wedding is an exciting but overwhelming process. There are so many details to take care of and so many expenses to consider. That’s why it’s crucial to have a solid plan for your budget. A well-planned wedding budget can help you stay on track and avoid overspending, allowing you to focus on the most important aspects of your wedding day.
Below you’ll find tips and tricks for successfully planning a wedding budget. From determining your total budget to tracking your spending, we’ve got you covered.
Research average costs
Start by researching the average costs of different wedding elements, such as venue, catering, attire, decorations, photography, entertainment, etc. This will give you an estimate how much each item should cost and help you allocate your budget accordingly.
Where to research
Okay, great where should you start researching? Well, you can start with online resources like websites, blogs, and wedding planning guides to research average costs for various wedding elements (think: venue, catering, decor, etc.). Next, you can ask family, friends, and colleagues for recommendations and insights on average costs.
After you have a general idea of what things should cost from online resources and friends, you can start reaching out to vendors for quotes. Be sure to compare quotes with multiple vendors to ensure you get a fair price. Keep in mind that certain wedding elements, such as venue rental and floral arrangements, may be more expensive in certain seasons.
Word to the wise: don’t overlook hidden costs. Be aware of things like taxes, gratuities, service fees, and miscellaneous fees that can add up quickly and impact your budget. Asking about these things when you speak with vendors is definitely a good idea.
By thoroughly researching costs, you can create a comprehensive and realistic budget for your wedding. This will ensure that you stay on track and avoid overspending during the planning process.
Create a comprehensive list of wedding expenses
The next step is to make a comprehensive list of all your wedding expenses. This should include major expenses like the venue and catering, as well as hidden costs like taxes, gratuities, and overtime fees. Using the research you’ve done on average costs, you should be able to create a list of expenses that fits into your personal budget. For example, if the total amount you want to spend on a wedding is $50,000, you may not want to allocate $45,000 to the venue, leaving only $5,000 for every other thing.
We know it’s a lot to think about, so we’ve broken down all of the wedding expenses you need to account for below.
- Venue Rental: This includes the cost of renting the ceremony and reception locations.
- Accommodations: If you are staying somewhere far from home, you will want to set up accommodations for yourself and potentially your guests, such as at a hotel, resort, or Airbnb.
- Catering and drinks: This includes the cost of food and beverages for the wedding and any related service fees.
- Attire: This includes the cost of the wedding dress, tuxedo or suit, and accessories.
- Decorations: This includes the cost of flowers, lighting, and other décor elements for the ceremony and reception.
- Photography and Videography: The cost of hiring a professional photographer and videographer to capture the memories of your special day.
- Entertainment: The cost of hiring a DJ, band, or other entertainment for the reception.
- Wedding Rings: Wedding bands for the ceremony for both the bride and groom.
- Transportation: How will you and your bridal party get places? The vehicle that transports you from the hotel to the ceremony to the reception and back.
- Invitations and Stationery: This includes the cost of wedding invitations, save-the-date cards, thank-you notes, and other stationery items.
- Miscellaneous Expenses: This includes any additional expenses such as favors, gifts, gratuities, taxes, and any unexpected costs that may arise during the planning process.
By creating a comprehensive list of all expenses, you can ensure that you have a clear understanding of all the costs associated with your wedding and can allocate your budget accordingly. Don’t forget to consider any additional expenses, such as travel, accommodations, and gratuities, and allocate a portion of your budget for unexpected expenses.
Prioritize expenses based on importance
Now that you have a general idea of how much you want to pay for each expense category, it’s time to prioritize. It’s important to identify the must-have expenses and allocate more budget to those while being mindful of the nice-to-have expenses that can be cut down if necessary.
Determine your priorities
How do you go about this? Well, first, determine your priorities. What elements of the wedding are most important to you? Put the majority of your budget towards those things. Not sure how? Think about your values. If you are super into sustainability, you might opt for eco-friendly decor and catering. If you want to make sure you accommodate your guests, you might choose a venue that is more expensive but more convenient for your invitees.
Second, make trade-offs for things you may care less about. For example, if you have a small budget, consider a smaller guest list or a less expensive venue. Maybe you could care less about your wedding dress but really want to hire some awesome entertainment.
Third, get creative. You may have to push yourself to think outside the box when budgeting for your wedding. You might consider your family and friends’ talents or skills to help with decorations, entertainment, and/or catering. For example, does Aunt Sue make a killer cake? Maybe you enlist her to make a special wedding cake for your big day.
Allocate according to your priorities
Fourth, allocate expenses for your wedding according to your priorities. Once you’ve laid your priorities, made trade-offs, and gotten creative, you can start actually assigning a dollar value to each category and creating a legitimate budget for each item.
Look for Ways to Save Money
Once you have allocated your budget, it’s time to start looking for ways to save money. You can have your dad dress up as a wedding singer and sing for your guests. Kidding! There are much better ways to save money and maintain the integrity of your wedding at the same time. Just because you’re saving money doesn’t mean it will look cheap or low quality (if you do it right). See some ideas below:
- Have a daytime wedding. Venues often offer discounts if you book them during the day.
- Be flexible with dates. If you’re clinging on to a Saturday that also happens to be July 5th, you’re probably going to be paying premium rates.
- Cut down the guest list. Haven’t talked to your ex-roommate from college in four years? Maybe consider cutting them from the wedding.
- Opt for an outdoor venue. Your cousin’s beautiful backyard? A public park? Outdoor venues tend to be cheaper.
- Choose in-season flowers or greenery over flowers. Floral arrangements can get expensive, so if you choose in-season flowers that are readily available or plants, you may shave some cost.
- Negotiate with vendors. Don’t take the first price, and be ready to walk away. They may call your bluff, or you may have an excellent poker face and get away with a deal.
- Utilize any discounts or special packages available. Check to see if there are any deals throughout the year. Maybe your caterer offers 50% off if you refer them or book during their off-season.
- Consider DIY options for decor. C’mon, ladies and gents, this is what Pinterest was BORN for: DIY wedding decor. And it doesn’t have to be 2012-cheesy. You can actually find cool stuff to make!
- Make your own wedding cake. Okay, this one may be difficult, but if you have a knack for baking, it could be a possibility! Maybe Auntie Jane is a baker or your Mother-in-Law’s college roommate.
- Rent items like decor and attire. Renting anything is going to be cheaper than outright buying it, of course. You might consider renting a wedding dress for some big savings.
- Use digital invites instead of printed invites. It’s 2023, people!! Save the Earth! Save paper! Use an e-card.
- Restrict filming time to a certain period. Tell your photographers and videographers they can only come from a certain time period. This could actually be super beneficial, especially if you know your Uncle John will be getting extra tipsy in the night and potentially doing things you don’t want on camera.
We’re sure there are a million other ways you can save money on your wedding day; those are just a few to get your wheels turning. Get creative and think out of the box!
Track Your Spending
It’s crucial to keep track of your spending to make sure you are staying within your budget. Set up a process to keep track of all expenses and compare them against your budget regularly. This will help you stay aware of your finances and make any necessary adjustments along the way.
But how, you ask? Tracking your spending doesn’t have to be a part-time job for you while you plan this wedding. Start by keeping all the receipts. Make sure to ask all of the vendors ahead of time that you would like some type of itemized receipt to help you understand your expenses and keep track. You should also consider using a budget tracker, like a spreadsheet or app, to start entering those receipts into. Setting aside 1 hour every week to review your spending is also a good idea. This helps keep you and your partner accountable for your spending. Finally, don’t forget to communicate with your future spouse. It’s good practice for what is to come in marriage! You don’t want to forget to add that $300 your partner spent on gratuity for catering to your budget.
By tracking your spending, you can ensure that you are staying within your budget and avoiding any unexpected surprises. This will also help you stay organized and make informed decisions as you move forward with your wedding planning.
The Bottom Line
In conclusion, planning a wedding budget is an important step in making sure that your big day goes smoothly. By determining your overall budget, prioritizing expenses, looking for ways to save money, and tracking your spending, you can stay within your means and have a beautiful and memorable wedding celebration.
Nicole Sheehey is the Head of Legal Content at HelloPrenup, and an Illinois licensed attorney. She has a wealth of knowledge and experience when it comes to prenuptial agreements. Nicole has Juris Doctor from John Marshall Law School. She has a deep understanding of the legal and financial implications of prenuptial agreements, and enjoys writing and collaborating with other attorneys on the nuances of the law. Nicole is passionate about helping couples locate the information they need when it comes to prenuptial agreements. You can reach Nicole here: [email protected]