Wedding Budget - Everything you need to know!
You have just finished announcing your engagement and now it’s time to get down to wedding planning. First and foremost, you would have to sit down with your partner and set a wedding budget.. Without a budget, it will be really hard to plan anything as you wouldn’t know how much you have to spend and where. A lot of people will say the first step is to find a venue but the better advice is to figure out how much you can spend on said venue, hence budget comes first!
Establishing a wedding budget can be one of the most stressful things about wedding planning. Money is a stressful topic among couples even if you aren’t planning a wedding. The important thing is knowing how to create a realistic wedding budget. Couples who end up blowing their budget either begin planning without establishing a budget or set a budget without doing actual research of how much everything costs in their area.
So who pays for what?
Traditionally, the brides family pays for the wedding but that isn’t always true nowadays. Nowadays a lot of couples pay for their own wedding and if you are one of those couples, that’s perfect. But if you are going to need help from your family then you would have to sit down with your family members and have a frank discussion and figure out how much you would need and who will be paying for what.
Some guidelines on who pays for what..
The bride’s wedding dress and accessories
Flowers for the ceremony and reception
Day of transportation
Ceremony costs including rental fees and decoration
Reception costs including food, music, decorations, rental fees, and entertainment
Gifts and flowers for her attendants
Groom’s ring and a present for him
Her hair & makeup
Sometimes attire and hair & makeup for her bridesmaids.
The rehearsal dinner including food, invitations, decorations and entertainment
A wedding gift
Bride’s ring and a present for her
Fees for the officiant
The marriage license
These days however couples fund their own celebration. If the money is coming from parents, then it’s convenient that each party pay for specific things such as photography or flowers or food instead of giving a lump sum. This is so much better if a parent cares more about a specific detail of your wedding then they contribute towards that. For e.g. they want you to get married at the venue they had picked out, then they pay for that part of your wedding.
If you are personally paying for the wedding, then remember that this is just the beginning of your lives and you don’t want to start a new life with a huge debt or something that can’t be paid off within 6 months. There are some interest free credit cards that you can apply for but it’s always unadvisable to take out a wedding loan. To save up, create a separate bank account for the wedding. That way you can both see what you are contributing towards the wedding and it’s less stressful when you have to pay a big sum for one of the services.
How much do you really need?
Depending on the area, a good rule of thumb is to budget $100 per guest. This allows for $50 a head for catering, and the remaining $50 goes towards everything else—flowers, attire, etc. This will give you a good starting point to start saving for your wedding.
Where the money goes?
Every couple is different. While some may want a live band, others may want to splurge on the venue but ultimately most of the budget goes towards the reception because well, food is expensive. It is very important to decide what you want and prioritize before you assign numbers to anything. You can download my wedding planning spreadsheet here to help you budget better.
Here are some steps for using the worksheet in a personal and useful way
Input your current planned “Estimated budget."
Use the industry percentages outlined to break up your budget by category. Insert the corresponding dollar amounts under "Estimates." (This should give you a basic guideline so you don’t accidentally spend more money than allocated on something and then need to increase your budget - but remember not to feel trapped by these numbers!)
Remove any pieces that you won’t be having or won’t be paying for, and reallocate that money. (Example: Your parents have agreed to pay for the photographer, you can just remove that line item and not worry about it or you can put that money towards something else such as your dress or flowers!) Or you can make a column for your family in the spreadsheet as well and put down the amounts there, that way everything is tracked at one spot.
Add in any line items that aren’t there but that you know you want to have. This budget worksheet is specific to the wedding day—if you need to include the rehearsal dinner or a morning-after brunch, you’ll need to add that in! You can also add a lot of specifics for your event that aren’t here so that you can keep track of money spent in a more detailed fashion.
Update as you go. When you get proposals from vendors, you can add the costs into "Actual cost $." As you sign contracts and pay deposits, add those amounts and due dates into "Deposit Amount Paid $," "Balance Due $," and "Final Payment Due Date." And don’t hesitate to reallocate the amounts as you go so that you have an up-to-date visual of your wedding budget and money spent. This way you can keep a tab of everything.
These are the general guidelines estimate on how much it would cost arranged from highest to the lowest expenditure. Remember these are just rough estimates through out the industry but it may vary depending on your area..
Food: 40% - This is the biggest expenditure for a wedding. Make sure to budget for this first before allocating money elsewhere
Reception Venue and rentals: 10-15% This can be higher if you get married at an expensive place or city.
Photo & Video: 12% You NEED great photos. You are putting all this work in your wedding, you want great photos of them as well. And I highly suggest getting a videographer too because you will want to watch your wedding day again!
Attire: 10% - The bride’s dress, shoes, veil, accesorries, hair & makeup as well as groom’s tux and accesories falls under this category. This also includes if your groom needs a beard stylist lol
Music: 6-12% - An awesome DJ can do wonders at your reception after all you want your guests to have a good time. But if you have extra to splurge then go ahead and get that band.
Flowers : 5-8% - You need flowers for bouquets, boutonnieres, centerpieces as well as arrangements for ceremony and reception. You can go as little or as big as you want with this but real flowers photograph and look much better than plastic plus they smell amazing too:)
Stationery: 3-5% - Invitations comes in various types and priced accordingly. Make sure to include save the dates and thank you cards if you plan to send them out. Also remember to allocate funds for postage stamps. You can find some super cute stamps on etsy.
Transportation: 2% - Shuttle services for guests for out of town guests or if your ceremony and reception locations are different as well as a cool car as your getaway ride.
Misc: 1-5% - Marriage license, tips, gifts etc fall under this category.
Some things to keep in mind while planning your wedding and budgeting:
1. Prime wedding season means premium costs and if you haven’t booked at least a year in advance, your favorite vendors may be all booked. Consider slow wedding season such as January. A lot of venues offer discounts for slow season.
2. Holidays means higher costs for travel expenses, overtime pay for staff as well as some venues might be pricier as well on holidays.
3. Weekends cost more. If you don’t mind the day of the week you are getting married on, consider a Sunday or even a Friday. Saturdays are very popular for weddings and you are likely to get a cheaper rate if you got married on a Sunday.
4. More people equals more money you have to shed. You don’t have to invite everyone you have met your entire life. You parents don’t need to invite all of their friends if you don’t even know them unless they are helping you pay for the wedding.
Set your budget first before purchasing anything.
Be prepared to make sacrifices or increase your budget because sometimes it happens especially if you splurge on one thing more. Remember you are ALLOWED to get that gorgeous dress and sacrifice somewhere else.
Do your research on how much it would actually cost rather than just going based on what this or anything other article says on how much it SHOULD cost.
Most important: Don’t stress and enjoy the planning process because EVERYTHING goes by too fast.