Wedding budget - what counts?
The Budget Savvy Bride

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When you have a two year engagement, you also have a two year planning period. Meaning that when you purchase items for your wedding, you actually end up using them beforehand (and quite possibly, will use them in the future). This has caused us a little desire to sort of fudge the numbers when it comes to our wedding budget.

Some things are clearly wedding expenses; invitations, photography, and venue. But what about the expenses that aren’t so cut and dry? For example, my favorite gentleman and I bought Chuck Taylor sneakers to wear to our wedding, but after that, we’ll be wearing them like regular shoes. And we bought these two metal buckets to hold non-alcoholic beverages, but we have been using them to hold our own snacks until then, and will probably use them in future parties as well. We have exactly 90 five-ounce glass tumblers that we plan on using for our champagne toast, and enough silverware to last us through this lifetime.

We’ve been putting them all, every last item that we intend on using for this wedding, in a carefully documented excel spreadsheet, and we’re currently at exactly $3,848, around 77% of our ideal budget. We still need to buy a cake, choose a DJ, rent a bounce house and other assorted carnival fun, find a caricature artist, and lastly, get enough alcohol for the open bar!

I got flustered, $1,152 to get all that done? But then I started looking at other budget breakdowns, and I noticed how many items are sometimes omitted, and how some folks view an item as a wedding expense and others don’t. Is the engagement ring part of the budget? What about smaller, seemingly inconsequential items, like stamps for the Save the Dates or the spur of the moment “This would look awesome at our wedding!” purchase of a clearance $2 wooden sign that says “Forever and a Day”; items that seem to get overlooked.

Then I started thinking about why we were so carefully tracking our expenses, and was reminded of the fact that we wanted to make sure that no expenses caught us by surprise. So we will be counting every penny spent on this wedding, and will try our hardest to make it below our ideal budget!

What about you all? Which items are you counting towards your budget?

I'm Denise, and in May of 2013 I'll be marrying my best friend of over a decade. By the time we get married, we'll have had a 2 year engagement. I also post on my own blog http://theurbancheapskate.blogspot.com

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From Our Partners
    • Jen
    • February 18th, 2013

    I’m in a similar situation. We have a 2 year engagement, of which we are 1.5 years into. We had a good idea of a budget, the max we wanted to spend.
    If I included every tiny thing – we would be over budget. But we don’t include everything – only the main ‘wedding-specific’ things (dress, food, drink, venue, enterntainment, invites, wedding bands, etc). Didn’t include the honeymoon either, that is a seperate budget.
    The kinds of things we haven’t included – book of stamps, lawn games that we bought last year and used for a party but will also use on the day, envelopes, a screen printing kit (that we used for the invites but also will use for projects), make up that I buy in the lead up, etc. That comes out of day to day expenses. The key though, is that we don’t mind spending that money here and there, and it won’t break the bank.
    It really comes down to what the budget means for you – if it is that you strictly have ‘this much’ to spend, then it makes sense to record everything. But if it’s that you need it more to monitor that you aren’t overspending in the big areas, or need to rearrange/prioritise your budget (ie fireworks or open bar, can’t afford both) than it is still really helpful for that.

    • I had a similar dilemma with whether or not to include my husband’s suit that we purchased. He wore it for the wedding but he’s worn it dozens of times since (the main reason we went with suits instead of tuxedos). I didn’t want to include it in my total budget since it wasn’t a wedding day specific purchase, but in the interest of full disclosure I did share how much we spent on it on the blog. :)

      It’s definitely good advice, that if you are keeping track of your budget to ensure you aren’t overspending, then just be realistic with yourself when deciding what is a wedding expense and what isn’t. :)

    • In a few weeks, you’ll be seeing another post from me in regards to making decisions in regards to a budget!

      We created our budget because we’ve heard of folks (more often than not) who set a budget and then end up overspending by over 100% of their original budget! That was really what we were hoping didn’t happen, which is why we’re so stringent about keeping track of expenses!

  1. This post could not have come at a more perfect time for me! There are so many things I cant decide if I should include them in the budget. My gma gifted us a few of the recepetion decorations and ceremony location for Christmas. Do I include that since it was a gift? My mom has bought a few things that werent necessary on the list or on the list of “lets go salvage shopping for free items.” It has actually messed up our budget a little bit because I dont know what people are spending. Its all so confusing!!

    • Obviously if you are gifted something for your wedding that is not coming out of your personal wedding budget or money spent. However, for the purpose of features here on the blog and for full disclosure, including those costs in the total that was spent on the actual wedding gives a more realistic look at what a wedding costs for our readers. Does that make sense? Something big like the ceremony rental that the average bride would have to pay for, those costs should be included in the budget breakdown- at least for the blog anyway :) Hope that helps! Let me know if you ever have questions about anything!! xo

    • When I post a total tally of my expenses, I plan on doing *estimated costs* for gifts/stuff we don’t have to pay for. For example, my aunt used to have a catering company and still has all the tablecloths involved.

      Tablecloths (borrowed from my aunt for free): Estimated cost $9 per tablecloth

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