How to Stick to Your Wedding Budget
So you've set your wedding budget… but how do you actually stick to it? Don't miss these tips for keeping up with your wedding budget and staying on track!
It’s one thing to set a wedding budget, but it’s another thing completely to actually stick to it! Setting the budget is actually the easy part… and I make it even easier in my book, where I share how to look at your personal finances and monthly expenses to calculate the number that works for your personal situation.
But when it comes to keeping your budget on track throughout your planning process, that can be a bigger challenge. From social media pressure to a lack of intentionality in your decisions, to failure to log and track every expense or making spontaneous splurges, there are several mistakes that couples often make when it comes to their wedding spending.
In this post we’re breaking down the steps to sticking to your budget, advice for keeping track of your spending along the way, and more.
Set Your Wedding Budget First.
The #1 thing you need to do to ensure you stick to your wedding budget is to actually set a budget before you start planning your wedding.
First off, you have to actually set a budget in order to stick to it, y’all. So many couples make the mistake of doing venue tours and interviewing potential vendors before they know how much they have in total to spend! That’s a recipe for budget disaster.
Just like personal finance, your wedding budget is personal, too. It should be based upon your specific set of circumstances, savings, and values. It should absolutely NOT be set based on whatever “average” figures are shared in the media. You don’t have to spend $30k+ to have a flippin’ awesome, meaningful, memorable, amazing wedding day. We’ve proven that 1000s of times over– just check out our real weddings section for the receipts. (literally.)
So after you've set your wedding budget, what do you need to do to
force equip yourself to adhere to it? I'm sharing my top five tips to help you stick to your wedding budget below!
5 Tips for Laying a Foundation to Help You Stick to Your Wedding Budget
1. Get clear on your core values and priorities
Setting a savvy foundation for your wedding planning includes identifying your priorities and core values for your lives. Then, use these principles to guide your wedding decisions (especially when it comes to spending.) This is actually the first chapter in my book, all about defining the vision you have for your day. Your vision should be based on you and your partner's shared values and priorities for your lives, and as an extension, your wedding day.
2. Mind your maximum spend
If you’ve outlined your budget well, you should be clear about how much you’re willing to spend, and where the money will come from. It's important to get specific about the max you'll allow yourself to put towards your big day. Come up with a firm figure that you are not willing to go beyond, even if you technically could afford to spend more. It may help you to examine your other financial goals in order to refocus your mind. When you realize that the extra $1000 is taking away from your first home downpayment, you may think twice before splurging on a DJ and find a DIY alternative instead.
3. Get organized
When planning a wedding, it’s important to be organized from the start. Whether that’s by purchasing a wedding planner, starting a spreadsheet, a Google Drive, a Budgeting App, keeping all the receipts, whatever. Find a system that works for you and make sure to keep track of everything so you really know where you stand financially. Record every penny so you know what you've spent and what you have left to work with. If you don't keep up with tracking your spending along the way, you may not realize the extent of your spending overage until the last few weeks leading up to the big day when final payments need to be made. We don't want you to have to endure Wedding Payment Panic, so do yourself a favor and stay on top of it.
4. Be flexible with your funds
Be willing to make necessary cuts and adjustments if you overspend in certain areas. It takes discipline, but if you’re committed to not overspending, it’s sometimes what it takes! If you spend less than you budgeted for in a certain area, feel free to reallocate those funds toward another area of the wedding. If you spend more than you planned for, know that you might have the adjust and reduce your budget in other areas to accommodate those expenses. For example, if you fall for a photographer's work that's a bit over the price you'd planned for, you may have to deduct from your dress or cake fund to compensate. There are always DIY alternatives to consider if you find yourself in need of cutting back. As a general rule of thumb, I recommend placing a bigger emphasis on line items that impact your guests' experience, rather than something that only benefits yourself.
5. Leave some wiggle room
You should leave some room to move in your budget as a safety net of sorts. It's a good thing to do in case any unexpected costs arise. Perhaps you change your mind on something or a particular priority item is more expensive than you had initially anticipated. Having this buffer within your budget will help ensure you don’t stray too much and exceed your budget limitations. It’s also wise to not think of this safety net when you begin planning. For instance, if you have a wedding budget of $25,000 – allocate your wedding funds as if you actually only have $20,000. Having this mentality will help keep you in check, and allow for occasional splurges while ensuring you don’t go over budget.
6. Protect yourself from Inspiration Overload
Protect yourself from Wedding Inspiration Overload. Ignore the “must-haves.” Avoid peer pressure or falling into the comparison trap based on what other friends or family have done. Another pro tip: blacklist Pinterest after a certain point in the planning process to save your sanity. Your partner and your wallet will thank you! You don't want to give yourself any extra temptation to take on another craft project or expense when you're getting down to the wire. These little additions can add up quickly, so use your best judgment and try not to get caught up in the details that won't actually matter in the long run.
Managing Your Wedding Budget Spreadsheet
One of the easiest ways to keep track of your budget is to use a comprehensive wedding budget spreadsheet where you can note all of your wedding expenses. Here we explain how to use your spreadsheet to monitor your wedding budget and provide some helpful tips to ensure you stay on top of your wedding spending.
Choose a system that allows you to track on-the-go
Whether that system is a cash envelope system a la Dave Ramsey, a budgeting app, or an online spreadsheet you can access from anywhere, find what works for you. Being able to update on-the-go ensures nothing gets missed or untracked.
Start with estimated costs, update to actual costs
You can start by allocating a preliminary anticipated budget across all the various categories of your wedding based on your priorities. When you actually book a vendor or service, change your spreadsheet from the estimated cost to the actual spend. Make sure this is reflected in your spreadsheet– it's crucial! By keeping track of your expenses you may find you spend less on certain items than you originally budgeted for, which means that you can transfer those extra funds into other aspects of the wedding, knowing exactly how much you have left to spend.
It’s a wise idea to itemize everything on the spreadsheet as opposed to having broad categories for each component of the wedding. For example, instead of just having wedding invitations and stationery, be sure to detail every part of your stationery set like so: invites, thank you cards, RSVP cards, Place Cards, postage, etc. You’ll be surprised at just how much you will spend on stamps when sending out your invites!
Keep hard copies to keep track
Make sure that you are always asking for receipts. Wedding planning is such a busy time– there is so much happening! With so many different payments to make, it's easy to forget the exact amounts you've spent on each item. Ask for receipts/invoices for everything so you won't have to rely on your memory of your spending habits.
Looking for more budgeting tips for your wedding?
Also be sure to check out our Wedding Budget Tips for more savvy ideas.