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How to Set Your Wedding Budget

It's so important to set your wedding budget before you start officially planning your big day. Check out these tips for setting a wedding budget that works for you!

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Whether you’re just recently engaged or already immersed in planning, this is our absolute biggest tip and most valuable advice to offer you. The most important thing to know before you start planning anything is… the dreaded B-word… your BUDGET! But do you know how to set your wedding budget? Our #1 wedding budget tip is to create your budget before you begin planning.

⭐️ Pro Tip: Know how much you have to spend before you go spending it.

I know what you’re thinking… money talk is generally not fun and can be a little stressful. That’s why it’s best to rip off the band-aid and get those discussions out of the way up front. You can’t stick to a budget if you don’t know what your budget is, right?

Steps for Setting Your Wedding Budget

Your wedding budget will likely be made up of funds from several different sources and should reflect your values and/or priorities. Below you'll find our step-by-step advice for setting a wedding budget you can actually afford and are happy with! A wedding budget should be personal – and it should reflect your unique situation and set of circumstances. We'll help you get to your final number by following the steps below:

1. Discuss the vision for your day with your partner.

What do you and your partner hope for on your wedding day? Do you envision being surrounded by a large group of family and friends or something more intimate with only your closest loved ones? Do you picture a big, fancy party or something more chilled and low-key? Take the time to chat with your partner about your shared vision for your wedding day. The budget you'll need to accomplish your vision can vary greatly based on these preferences!

Be sure to also cover how soon you want this shindig to happen, as a shorter engagement means less time to save money for the big day. It's best to have a rough idea of when you'd like to tie the knot in order to help inform your budget.

wedding fund - how to set your wedding budget
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2. Declare your drop dead, maximum spend.

To decide on a wedding budget that works for you, sit down with your fiancé and discuss an amount you both feel comfortable with spending. This is the amount of money that you are willing and able to spend, without taking on debt. You may be able to technically afford to spend more, but decide that you don't want to spend so much on a one-day party. This is also the figure you'd be working with should you be funding your entire wedding yourselves. If your families are able and willing to contribute to your wedding fund (we'll get to that in a minute) then you could either add their contributions on top of your max spend, or save some of your intended spend to go towards other life goals.

3. Decide how much you’ll need to save over time.

After you’ve figured out what sort of wedding you're looking to plan, discuss your personal finances with your partner. Together, decide how much you are each willing and able to contribute to the day. Do you want to allocate some of your savings to the wedding fund? Can you save money during the course of your engagement to go towards paying for the wedding? If so, how much? Hash out these details as a team. This may be the first of many money talks you'll have as a couple. For a healthy marriage, it is so important to be on the same page about money.

In some cases, this bucket of funds might be all you have to work with. If your families aren't pitching in financially, you may have to extend the length of your engagement in order to afford the wedding you want.

4. Have “The Talk” with any contributing parties.

If either set of parents are contributing money to the wedding fund, make sure to make time to sit down and discuss how much they will be contributing. Perhaps you and your fiancé are planning to pay for the wedding yourselves, and if that is the case then the conversation will just be the two of you. Either way, it’s important to have a full idea of how much you will have to work with to keep yourselves on budget.

It's important to note that accepting outside parties or loved ones could come with strings attached. If the two of you want to have creative control without managing others' opinions and wishes, you may choose to decline outside contributions. It's definitely a trade-off, so be sure to set boundaries and expectations up front if you do decide to accept financial assistance from your families.

5. Discuss expectations and timing.

One of the major pain-points of planning a wedding with outside funds is the expectations that come along with the money. It may be a little uncomfortable, but it’s important to discuss expectations with all financial contributors to avoid unnecessary stress or hurt feelings.

Major things to cover include estimated expenses and the timing of contributions from all those who are financing the wedding. Will they be giving you a sum upfront to work with? Or will they be depositing funds on a rolling basis over the course of your engagement? Do you plan to put the expenses on a points-earning Credit Card when possible? Or will you be paying with cash or check? Will your family members be paying for specific services/vendors directly or giving you funds to use as you see fit? Be sure to cover all your bases to cut down on possible friction with your families.

6. Tally up the final figures.

Add up all the funds from contributing parties to find your total wedding budget. Combine the funds from your families with your own savings and/or monthly contributions along the way. This sum figure should be the absolute max budget for your wedding. It should be the number you look at to guide you through making financial decisions for your day.

Sticking to your budget is a whole other ball game. Check out these tips for sticking to your wedding budget to help keep yourselves on track.

7. Prioritize.

You’ve probably heard it time and time again, prioritize what is most important to you and allocate your budget accordingly. Remember to include allowance in your budget for tips and gratuities for your wedding vendors! (Check out the wedding vendor tipping guide in this post!) These items tend to be overlooked and can result in significant over-spending if you don’t work them into your budget.

Aligning your priorities with your wedding plans will help you plan a day you (and your wallets) will be happy with! Then you can seek out ways to save money on your wedding in the areas that aren't as important to you.

So you've set your wedding budget… now how do you stick to it?

Read this: How to Stick to Your Wedding Budget

Have you set your wedding budget? How did you come up with your final figure?

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The Budget Savvy Bride is the #1 Online Wedding Planning Resource for couples who want to plan a beautiful wedding on a budget they can actually afford. Check out our best-selling book on Amazon, The Budget-Savvy Wedding Planner & Organizer!