Planning the perfect wedding requires a realistic budget breakdown
When wrapped up in the excitement of being newly engaged, the last thing most couples want to do is discuss their wedding budget. And rightly so! The early stages of engagement should certainly be reserved for pure excitement, joy, and casual wedding planning chat. Once you've properly celebrated together, and with loved ones, then it's time to start thinking about your wedding budget breakdown, and how you're going to finance the day itself. Which can also be fun, we promise!
We know that right now, in the early stages of planning, all you want to do is start styling the reception, and picking out the perfect wedding cake. But it's impossible to do any of these things without working out how much you can spend. Not just on cake, but on all of your wedding vendors, and special day purchases. Plus, where's the money is coming from?
It doesn't matter if your wedding budget is 10k or 10mil, having a breakdown of where your money will be spent will guide many of your decisions during the planning process. Especially when it comes to the guest list, as the more loved ones you invite, the higher your wedding costs will be.
To help you better figure out how much to spend on your wedding day, we have put together a comprehensive checklist of expenses. From the wedding venue, to vendors and miscellaneous costs. Our guide will ensure no part of the wedding is overlooked and in turn help you plan the perfect celebration.
Your Essential Wedding Budget Checklist
A vital starting point when budget planning, is working out how much you can spend, and who is contributing to your wedding. This can often be a tricky, sometimes awkward conversation to have. But it's important to be frank with each other, and share not just how much you can spend, but also how much you're willing to budget for your wedding. It may well be that your partner has differing wedding ambitions and financial priorities to you. Which is fine, as long as you discuss your feelings early on, and find an honest middle ground. Those who don't, soon find that planning a wedding becomes more like a series of battles, instead of the harmonious experience it should be.
Honesty is essential too when discussing the overall wedding budget with those potentially contributing to your wedding day. Parents and close family members should be asked respectfully if they are willing to help pay, or assist you in financing the wedding. It's more than likely those wanting to contribute will make it known without you needing to ask. But they may not have nailed down an actual figure yet. Plan a time to sit down and talk numbers with your respective family, and maybe give them a heads-up before meeting to let them know exactly what it is you'd like to discuss. Just so they can prepare properly.
Most couples need financial help from family members when putting together their wedding budget, so don't feel embarrassed about asking for money. As long as you're frank and appreciative, loved ones will be only too happy to help if they can.
Save & Celebrate For Every Milestone
Not every couple is fortunate enough to have family members who can contribute towards their wedding budget, or have enough savings to pay for the event themselves. In this scenario, it's tempting to seek an immediate injection of cash, either through loans or credit, just so the wedding preparations can begin. And while there is nothing wrong with doing this, especially if done responsibly. The wisest option is to be patient, and save instead of borrowing.
Set up a joint savings account, allocate it exclusively to your wedding budget, and don't touch it. Unless some kind of crisis occurs, your wedding budget vault should stay untouched until you need it. Not only is this good practice when saving for a wedding, but it's a sensible way to pay for any large purchase. And moving forward, there will likely be a few of those on the horizon.
If you're not used to saving, or find it difficult to save money each month – set up automatic payments. A regular deposit into the wedding budget from both of your accounts at a time that suits your finances, i.e., when you get paid. If you treat the money going into your wedding savings vault almost like an extra tax on your wages, you probably won't even notice the difference. But be sure to commit to a figure each month that you can afford. It's better to save for two, three, even six months longer if it means you're not scraping by each month. The average wedding budget is worth tightening your belt for, but not if you're really struggling.
Choosing to save, rather than having something right away, always sounds like the boring option. But there's no reason it should be! Make saving fun and rewarding by setting up milestones for each other. Give yourself things to work towards. Maybe go on a celebratory night out when you reach a certain target, or plan to book something in particular for your wedding when you reach a financial milestone. That way, you know how valuable every stage is, and your desire will be fueled to reach the next level.
- Borrow Responsibly
- What Are Your Wedding Priorities?
- Always Have a Contingency Within Your Wedding Budget
- Budget Hard for the Venue
- How Much Should You Budget for Each Wedding Guest?
- Budget the Rest of Your Wedding
- Stick to a Realistic Wedding Budget
- Keep a Detailed Wedding Budget Breakdown
- Think About Your Budget When Inviting Guests
- Don't Skip Insurance
- Have You Budgeted For Your Honeymoon?
- Use Financial Planning Tool for Your Wedding
- Capture the Charm of the Countryside inspired by Rustic Elegance
- Creating Beautiful Blooms for Your Wedding Without Overspending
- Allocate your Wedding Budget
If saving is not an option for you, either because your wedding needs to take place within a short timescale, or simply because saving isn't your thing. Then you should always be wise with the type of money you borrow. Credit cards can be lifesavers in an emergency, and if used responsibly, can help get a wedding over the line. But, don't just use your pre-existing credit card, unless you already have a good, long-term deal. Shop around for the lowest interest offer available (preferably 0%), while also keeping an eye out for any added perks. It may well be that your new card offers cashback on certain purchases, deals on wedding related vendors, or maybe upgrades on travel?
Another option is to take out a personal loan to finance the wedding. Which, as long as you can meet the required monthly payments, is a suitable option for couples needing to pay for wedding expenses straight away. Just be sure to actually read the small print, as sometimes loan lenders will sneak in clauses just to catch couples out.
What Are Your Wedding Priorities?
As mentioned, maintaining honesty with your partner is key to setting a wedding budget successfully. And a major part of that is the sharing of priorities. What will make this wedding special for you? What parts of the day are non-negotiable? It may well be that you've already discussed many of the major wedding planning topics in the past, but tastes change over time. Your partner may have said previously that they would never get married unless they were wearing a designer gown, for example. But when did they say that? Maybe nowadays they're keen to spend less on a dress, and more on entertainment, or the entire wedding experience?
Plan a time to chat about what this wedding means to you and how you envisage the day feeling. Don't be scared to share. Your desires may be more aligned than you previously thought.
Hashing out what matters most to you both is just as important as working out what doesn't. In fact, if you're struggling to come up with positive must-have elements for your wedding — perhaps think about what you really don't want, or don't need instead! For instance, do you want to keep your wedding dress? If you're not interested in holding on to it, perhaps consider a rental instead. What about your wedding party? Have you always imagined everyone wearing matchy-matchy styles? No, why not let everyone choose their own outfits then, and just give them a guide instead.
Going through the process of picking out priorities early on will certainly help generate wedding ideas, and should make the wedding feel more balanced.
Always Have a Contingency Within Your Wedding Budget
Once you've worked out the total budget for your wedding, it's time to start portioning it off. And we start not with setting aside money for your venue, or photographer, but with a contingency fund. A vital part of any wedding budget that'll ensure all is not lost if the worst should happen, while also picking up the slack when you inevitably overspend.
It may feel tough to save all that money, only to have a considerable slice of it taken away so soon. But contingency funds, along with wedding insurance plans, are a necessary part of sensible, savvy event planning.
How much should you budget toward your wedding contingency fund? No matter the size of your overall budget, around 12-13% of it should be set aside. If a lot of your wedding planning decisions are very much up in the air, or you know that as a couple, you tend to find it difficult to stick to a budget – maybe up the contingency fund. Allocating something closer to 15% would not be unreasonable if you find long-term budgeting a challenge.
Budget Hard for the Venue
Your wedding ceremony and reception venues should be the first things you book once your budget is finalized. As their location, size, and style will dictate just about every other decision you make as a wedding planner. From the number of guests you can invite, to the color theme of the entire event — there is no underestimating how influential your venue/s will be.
Considering how significant venues are, it figures that they should also take up a significant percentage of your budget. Potentially more than you may think. In fact, to create an accurate budget, you should allocate half of your funds towards the venue. No matter the size of your budget.
Setting aside 50% of your wedding budget for one thing may seem daunting, but that percentage should cover more than just the venue hire. Catering for the entire day and night will be a significant cost, as will drinks, depending on whether you provide a free bar or not. Plus, some types of venues require extra miscellaneous expenditures. Marquees, blank canvas and more off the beaten track spaces will likely need generators, lighting, staging and potentially restrooms brought in to provide the necessary facilities for guests.
Walking into venue visits, safe in the knowledge that their total hire will likely cost half of your wedding budget, should help you quickly filter out the venues within your price range, and help you avoid overspending. If you do end up finding a venue that falls under budget, including catering etc. Then simply allocate your wedding budget accordingly.
How Much Should You Budget for Each Wedding Guest?
Couples typically start to sketch out their guest list fairly early in the wedding planning process — whether they want to or not! For those dreading the thought of picking one friend or family member over another, we understand your pain, but it is a necessary part of the process. Especially if you're planning a small wedding.
One thing that should make the list making process easier, is knowing your cost per head. An essential figure to have at hand when beginning discussions with any potential venues, as they will likely provide you with their own cost per head. Therefore, you need to know whether your figures match up with their quote.
The easiest way to work out your cost per head is to take the value you've set aside for your venue, and divide that by the number of guests you intend to invite. The number that produces will indicate how much each name on your guest list costs. A fact that, for many couples, changes the scope of their celebration. Encouraging them to think smaller, or alternatively stop holding back on the amount of wedding invitations.
Depending on your venue, the cost per head quoted may not include certain surcharges. Therefore, it's always a good idea to add on maybe 10-20% to your cost per head, just to cover any extras.
Budget the Rest of Your Wedding
Now the budget for a wedding venue has been set aside (50%), it's time to allocate the remainder of your funds. Our typical wedding cost breakdown should help you work out how much each element and service will be. But before you start breaking down your wedding budget percentages, there are a few things we should go over to ensure you avoid any costly mistakes.
Firstly, gather as much real-world research as you can, specifically to do with quotes and figures. When browsing the websites of wedding bands, or photographers, for example, you will find they quote the cost of their services. A useful piece of information when putting together your initial budget. However, if you want a more accurate idea of how much vendors will actually charge for your wedding, you should ask for a personalized quote.
It may well be that the packages shared on a vendor's site do not actually match up with what you need for the big day. And when all is considered, the cost of your DJ, or videography team could be significantly different. This is especially important when working out the costs of higher ticket items such as the suppliers mentioned above (photography, entertainment, outfits, decor). As personalized quotes from these types of vendors can often alter things quite drastically, due to their high percentage of the average wedding cost.
When requesting quotes from vendors, be sure to ask for a breakdown of the cost, including any taxes, fees, and delivery charges. There's little point in going to the effort of obtaining a personalized quote from a vendor, if in the end the actual figure is potentially 20% higher. Tips should also be considered, but the amount you give is typically for you to decide.
Stick to a Realistic Wedding Budget
There is no doubt that staying on budget when planning something as momentous, and ever-changing as a wedding is no piece of cake. Any seasoned wedding planner will tell you that, even for them, keeping the average wedding on budget is one of the most challenging parts of their job. However, letting a budget run away from you can seriously affect your enjoyment of the whole process, and hamper your chances of creating the ideal wedding. Therefore, it's vital when creating a wedding budget, you do so realistically.
If you know you have expensive taste, and that this celebration will not be complete without a designer wedding dress, for example. Then it's important you take steps to ensure you get what you want (within reason), without heaping stress on your shoulders, or putting yourself in financial difficulty. The last thing you should be thinking about on your honeymoon is how much everything cost, or be worrying about the bills racking up at home.
The majority of wedding planning couples save while they spend. Meaning each month, once they've got a bit more saved, they're able to book, hire or pay off another part of their big day. Depending on how much they've been able to set aside. This works if the couple has a clear plan in place, and they stick to it. But if you feel like, as a couple, you won't be able to diligently save each month, knowing that if you don't, something cannot be booked, or a debt could mount up — don't take this approach. Save a set amount in advance, and then make your wedding plans a reality.
Whichever way you're paying for the wedding, be sure to book the most important vendors first. The photographer, venue, musicians etc. The suppliers who can make or break your celebration. Not only is this good practice in general, as they are the types of professionals whose diaries often get booked up years in advance. But also, they are the vendors you should be spending big on. Rather than opting for the cheaper option, something that typically happens when couples leave booking them to the last minute, or don't budget early enough.
Keep a Detailed Wedding Budget Breakdown
The easiest way to keep on top of wedding finances is to break down your budget into sections. And the easiest way to do that is with our Wedding Budget Checklist! An online wedding budget sheet divided up into planning categories, such as attire, venue decor, wedding favors etc. Each with their own sub-categories and lots of space for you to add your own, on top of the sample wedding items we've listed for you. Next to each item is a box for you to put the cost of each vendor hired, or item booked. Every one of these individual amounts is then automatically added to the final calculation at the bottom of the sheet.
Using a wedding budget calculator such as ours makes the whole process of keeping on top of your finances effortless. Helping you to see, at a glance, where you're up to and which items are potentially pushing you over budget.
Whether you use our sample wedding budget breakdown, or prefer to create something from scratch in Excel, it's critical to record every payment, or cost related to the wedding. However small it may be, add it to the list and describe exactly what it is, so that your partner, or anyone else who consults the list, will understand its relevance. Ensure you're both on top of the finances, and keeping track of all spending. If you and your partner don't have the time or headspace to check on the budget each week, be sure to schedule in monthly sit downs to go over the budget. Just to make sure you're on the same page and happy with the spending.
Think About Your Budget When Inviting Guests
We've already mentioned how important it is to know how many guests you want to invite, as the total will greatly affect how much you need to budget. And if the budget is looking tight, you shouldn't feel afraid to cut down your list. If you're a couple with 100-150+ people potentially being invited to your wedding, then shaving off maybe 10 or 15 people will not drastically change the vibe of the evening. But it could save you thousands on your wedding budget. Ensuring that you stay in the black, while also freeing up funds to pay for vendors.
Group size is also key when thinking about your wedding party, as again, the more you have, the more they will cost you. If you want to treat your bridesmaids to stunning outfits, luxurious gifts, and provide the best transportation for the whole party – perhaps consider scaling back on the size of the group, rather than overspend. If gifts and experiences are significant to you, then don't deny yourself the opportunity to enjoy them just because there's too many people in your wedding party.
Scale down the group, choosing only those who are truly special to you, and ensure that you have a unique experience together.
Don't Skip Insurance
All of us have gone on vacation without insurance, believing nothing bad is going to happen. And because 99% of the time it doesn't, we feel confident in not getting insurance the next time. But you never know.
When planning something as momentous, and expensive as a wedding, insurance should be considered a necessity, and budgeted for accordingly. Even if you're holding a smaller wedding, or celebrating in the backyard. Some vendors will even require you to have wedding insurance before they'll deal with you.
Good insurance should cover postponement, cancellation, and liability. Thus ensuring that all of those deposits, and non-refundable payments you put down in the lead up to the big day will not be lost if you, or the vendor need to cancel. Which is extremely comforting. A not oft talked about side effect of having insurance. Knowing that you can plan this wedding to your fullest, do all the right budgeting things, while safe in the knowledge the insurance company has got your back if something goes wrong.
Have You Budgeted For Your Honeymoon?
One of the biggest wedding budget mistakes to avoid, is not including a honeymoon in your plan. Even if you're not going all out, and rather than go on safari, or fly to a desert island, you're keeping things low-key. The honeymoon should still be included in the budget, and given the significance it deserves.
If you know you're not going to be able to budget hard enough to throw the dream wedding, and have the perfect honeymoon, then consider setting up a honeymoon fund. That way, guests can easily gift the money you need, and know exactly what it's going to be spent on. A much more exciting way of gifting than simply putting cash in an envelope!
Use Financial Planning Tool for Your Wedding
Effortlessly plan your dream wedding and stay on financial track with our comprehensive wedding budget template. This user-friendly tool is designed to simplify the budgeting process, helping you allocate funds wisely across all aspects of your celebration. From venue and catering to attire and decor, our template provides a clear overview, empowering you to make informed decisions while ensuring every detail is accounted for. Take the stress out of budget planning and focus on creating cherished moments on your special day with our customizable and efficient wedding budget template.
Capture the Charm of the Countryside inspired by Rustic Elegance
Transform your wedding into a charming and cozy affair with our guide to rustic wedding decor. Immerse yourself in the warmth of natural elements, weathered textures, and vintage-inspired accents that capture the essence of rustic elegance. From barnwood accents to mason jar centerpieces, we provide inspiration and tips to infuse your celebration with the timeless beauty of a rustic ambiance. Discover how to blend simplicity and sophistication to create an enchanting setting that reflects your unique style and celebrates the beauty of simplicity.
Creating Beautiful Blooms for Your Wedding Without Overspending
Elevate the romance of your big day without exceeding your budget with our guide to wedding flowers on a budget. Delve into a world of affordable floral options that add charm and elegance to your celebration. From savvy flower choices to creative arrangement ideas, we offer practical tips to help you achieve a stunning floral display while keeping costs in check. Let the beauty of budget-friendly blooms blossom at your wedding, proving that you can create a captivating atmosphere without breaking the bank.
Allocate your Wedding Budget
Embarking on the journey to your dream wedding? Navigate with confidence by steering clear of common wedding budget mistakes. From overlooking hidden costs to underestimating expenses, our guide empowers you to avoid financial pitfalls. Learn to allocate resources wisely, prioritize essentials, and turn potential budget blunders into a seamless path toward your perfect day. Ensure your wedding planning is as smooth as your love story with these invaluable insights.
Explore other topics related to wedding budgeting
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