Weddings are lovely, but budgets can be a bummer if you're not counting your pennies. The average wedding in the U.S. cost $35,329 in 2016. And that was just the average! So, unless you happen to have thousands of dollars laying around to spend on one day for a tricked-out wedding, a budget is your best bet for keeping costs under control. Planning a budget for your wedding isn't exactly rocket science, though it might feel like it. Here are some tips to break it down so it's easier to swallow~
1. Think About Where the Budget Is Coming From
The first thing you need to tackle is where the money is coming from and think about what you already have to work with. If you're not working with much, then it's time to start fundraising with a lemonade stand - Kickstarter anyone?! Or considering a really small event, which can be just as lovely, or more so, than a big wedding day.
Sometimes it's easiest to think of your wedding budget as a business budget. You know you can't overspend or you'll be out of business soon...
Clarify who or what's funding the wedding budget from the start. If it's coming solely from you and your soon-to-be-spouse (which is more common these days), then talk about what will and won't be used towards the budget. That can mean steering clear of credit cards unless there's an emergency or opting to put all of the budget on credit cards to rack up extra miles to fly on for the honeymoon while still paying it off monthly.
Whatever you decide, try to stick with it and keep each other in the loop so no one is surprised. Stick to your guns because wedding magazines and planners can make everything look super shiny and fun.
2. Break Down the Budget by Category
There's a no specific amount that you must spend and no exact rule you have to follow when it comes to allocating your wedding budget. But it's a great idea to have a plan on paper and break down the costs. List what you need to cover by category, and start planning just how much of the budget should be allocated towards that cost. Here is an example, based on a $30,000 wedding, using a few suggested percentages:
- Officiant: 1 percent ($300)
- Venue: 10 percent ($3,000)
- Event planner: 12 percent ($3,600)
- Flowers and decorations: 10 percent ($3,000)
- Catering: 20 percent ($6,000)
- Photography/Videography: 10 percent ($3,000)
- Cake: 2 percent ($600)
- Gifts: 3 percent ($900)
- Transportation: 3 percent ($900)
- Stationary: 3 percent ($900)
- Hair/makeup:2 percent ($600)
- Wedding attire:9 percent ($2,700)
- Wedding rings: 8 percent ($2,400)
- Music/DJ: 4 percent ($1,200)
- Miscellaneous expenses: 3 percent ($900)
It doesn't seem like much to spend on each of these things, does it? Yet it somehow racks up to $30,000!! Now that you have an idea of how to do a budget, let's show you some ways to make it your own~
3. Spend Money on the Important Things
Just because it's a wedding doesn't mean you have to do everything some fancy wedding book or wedding planner suggests. It's your money, so spend it on what's really important to you. Choose your top four wedding "must-haves" and set aside a little bit more of the budget towards what's important to you and your future spouse. For instance, if you're into drone videography, then you may consider bumping up your photography and videography budget by an additional 5 percent and decreasing the flower budget by 5 percent. If your future spouse wants a super fancy expensive ring then decrease your ring budget by choosing a unique and inexpensive option, such as one from the awesome selection of rings at Manly Bands. Just remember that everything should add up to 100 percent!
Also, you can't forget the absolute essentials, such as budgeting for the marriage officiant and the marriage license. Otherwise, your marriage may as well be null and void. Out of anything else, these two are the most important, because they're what makes your marriage official and legal. So make sure you make it one of the important things you include in your budget.
If you're lucky enough to have your parents chipping in to help foot the bill, you want to leave some budget to show them a nice "thank you." Even though it's not their wedding, they are helping you out. A little appreciation goes a long way. Show it by giving them some special recognition. Budget for a special drink just for their table, a mariachi band with a song dedicated to them or some other unique way of honoring them. You can also buy your parents a small gift as a thank you for the wedding, opt for something inexpensive and sentimental. It'll save you on budget and tug at their heart strings much better.
4. Narrow Down the Wedding Details
From your guest list to the wedding venue, it's important to get an idea of what you expect to spend in the form of hard numbers. You can't get there unless you narrow down all of the details. That means sticking to a guest count, deciding on a date and time, and selecting the venue, the attire and the wedding bands. Cut out what's not necessary if you're trying to bring down the budget to something reasonable. You don't want to start your marriage out with debt or a hole in your pocket if you can avoid it.
If you're way off your budget, you might consider a weekday wedding, which often saves a ton on catering. It might also inadvertently reduce your final guest count since several folks won't be able to get off of work to attend. You might also consider a Paperless Post or other online invitation or a postcard invite that asks guests to RSVP online. There are so many ways to reduce budget in the places that matter the least to you, so don't be afraid!
5. Always Leave Room for the Honeymoon
After all that hard work preparing for the wedding, you can't leave one of the best parts out -- the honeymoon! It's that special week (or two) before you officially start living the married life, so you want to make sure your honeymoon is well worth it. Think about where you're going and the time of year you want to go, and plan well in advance to accommodate for all of the costs.
Also know that you don't have to take the honeymoon immediately after the wedding either. Make it how you want it, when you want it. Maybe it'd be economical to wait until the off season to take your honeymoon in that tropical paradise?
Bring It All Together With a Plan
Budgets can sound like a ball and chain when you just want to enjoy yourself on your wedding day. But they're necessary so you can enjoy the life you want to live after the party is over. Put these budget planning tips in place, and you'll be set for making your wedding exactly what you want it without all the complicated math.