How Much Should Your Wedding Budget Be?

So you’re planning a wedding!  By now you’ve probably already started your various Pinterest boards, started a group chat on Google and have labeled folders and To Do lists shared with your wedding party.

But do you have a budget?

Surprisingly – or maybe not – many couples skin over the budget details when they first five into the fun parts of planning their wedding.

Let’s face it, sharing pins of the perfect wedding couple outfits, wedding ring sets, cute DIY wedding ideas and honeymoon destinations is a lot more fin that trying to figure out the price tag for the whole thing.

But if you don’t start with some boundaries in place, things can quickly spiral out of control.  According to The Wedding Report the average wedding in 2015 cost around $26,645.  Admittedly, most couples actually spent less than $10,000 but, overall across the country, couples spent anywhere from $19,000 to just over $30,000 for the Big Day.

If the thought of a wedding budget that rivals the yearly salary of many people leaves you reeling, then you’ll understand the value in having a budget.  Even if you’re on the other end of the spectrum and you’ve been saving for years just to blow a ton of money on your Big Day, having a budget is still essential.  It will make it easier for you to earmark areas in which you’re willing to spend more (venue, catering, open bar) versus areas in which you’d be happy to scale back (number of guests, party favors)

Setting a Wedding Budget – Crunch the Numbers

In order to establish a budget, start with how much money you actually have on hand.  Some couples use their savings as either a starting point for their budget or as the entirety of what they’re willing to spend.

Deciding whether or not to go into debt in order to throw the wedding of your dreams is something you should consider carefully.  There’s nothing wrong with wanting to fulfill your dreams when it comes to your perfect wedding, but you also don’t want to begin your life together facing a mountain of debt.

Sometimes families are willing to help by contributing directly or by handing certain payments and details such as setting the venue for the ceremony or reception.  Getting help from family may mean making compromises on certain details since they’ll want a voice in decision if they’re paying.

Set an overall budget without worrying about how much you’ll spend in one area just yet.  Setting a limit before you start detailing everything will give you a clear limit which can come in handy once you begin itemizing costs.

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Keeping Costs In Line

Once you know how much you’re willing to spend, you can begin planning things properly.  There are a number of things you can do to keep costs down while you’re planning

  • Scale Back on Guests – The more people you invite, the higher your costs will be.  For any budget, the venue and catering will account for most of the expense.  By keeping your wedding list small, you’ll be able to keep costs down and focus more on sharing your special day with your closest family and friends.
  • Be Flexible on the Day and Time – Most weddings happen on Saturday afternoons and evenings.  If you’re willing to get hitched at pretty much any other time during the week, you can easily save 10% or more according to Forbes magazine.  Combine an off day during the off season (anything other than summer) and you can extend those savings even further.
  • Check for Venue and Catering Combos – Some venues have relationships with local caterers and vice versa.  Reach out to small, local businesses to find out if there’s any advantage to working with caterers and venue organizers with an already established relationship.
  • Keep Food & Drink Simple – Speaking of catering, remember that people are coming to celebrate your special day and they’re not necessarily expecting a full meal.  Be up front with your caterer about what you want and what you’ve budgeted for food and drink.  Some caterers might try to pressure you into doing a full appetizer / salad / main meal / dessert set up since “that’s just how it’s done” but if that’s not in YOUR vision for your wedding day, don’t be afraid to work with someone else.  Also ask the venue if it’s okay for you to bring in your own booze rather than spring for an open bar.  If bringing your own isn’t an option, set a limit for the bar by offering guests a few bottles of wine at each table.  They can still have a drink on you and, if they want more, they’re free to start a tab.
  • Stop and Smell the Savings on Flowers – Weddings and flowers go hand in hand – literally.  Both brides and grooms usually either carry flowers or use them as a part of their overall outfit.  Add to that any additional flowers for the wedding party or decoration and the cost of flowers can easily get out of hand.  Decide how many flowers you really need for your wedding, as well as what you want as opposed to what you feel a wedding SHOULD have.  Roses may be the go to flower for couples, but wildflowers, daisies and lilies are all great options for beautiful wedding arrangements that won’t break the bank.
  • Rethink Your Wardrobe – If you want to keep your wardrobe costs in check, head over to second hand resale places and rental boutiques.  Vintage shops and even thrift stores can offer some great possibilities, particularly for couples with some sewing and tailoring skills.  If, however, you want something Wedding Aisle Ready and absolutely drop dead gorgeous, check out places that rent high end fashion.  Many larger cities have several shops or you can choose to work through websites such as Rent the Runway or The Mr. Collection.

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