I wanted to touch on this subject, because I think a lot of people simply don’t know where to start when it comes to setting a budget for their wedding.
The first thing that happens when you begin wedding planning is you start to see how quickly things can add up. The email you sent to the venue owner that you have loved since that friend of a friend got married there three years ago… $5k for one day AND you HAVE to use all of their vendors (+$$$). The photographer you see all over Instagram who “anybody who is anyone” has used… $4,000 dollars for eight hours of their time and a two hour engagement session [Totally not knocking that it is hard work and believe me – the photographer I am referring to is totally worth it]. BUT, if you’re anything like me – spending one years worth of college tuition (or more) on ONE night is mind blowing for you… and YOU WANT ANSWERS!
Now – if your well-to-do parents have offered to foot the bill for the wedding you’ve always dreamed of and more and it won’t cause them to take out a second mortgage on their house, why not?? I would probably take the money instead.. but everyone has their own opinion!! However – to decide on a budget, sit down with your fiancé and discuss an amount that you both feel comfortable with. For example, it was important for us to start our marriage with no debt from our wedding (we have enough in student loans!) and not to feel regretful about not saving the money towards a house or a new car. We decided that setting a budget of $12k was reasonable – especially since we had 16 months to save and pay as we went.
*I made a simple spreadsheet to track our spending. Did I forget things: Of course! That is why I did not stretch it to $12,000 in the beginning – to leave room in the budget for the forgotten items.
Now.. the hard part. Sticking with your budget:
Has anyone else noticed that if you type in anything referring to “wedding” that items are drastically more expensive? E.g., Dresses vs. Bridesmaid Dresses?? It’s a conspiracy I tell you!! [See my previous post here to check out how I discovered more budget friendly dresses]
I want to stress here the importance of research. Did you know that the first listings that pop up on google are typically the listings that pay to show up first? To combat this: talk to newlywed couples and read blogs (specifically photography blogs because they always list credit to the different vendors).
Here are some general tips that I have found to be useful!
- First: Have your wedding on a non-traditional day. I am having mine on Saturday because this is not something I was willing to give on, but other people I know have had Friday night weddings or Sunday brunch weddings that made their budgets very happy! One friend of mine did what I thought was genius and had hers on the Sunday before Labor day! People are already off work for Labor day, so you don’t have to worry about them leaving the festivities early. You should, however, make sure you send out invites well in advance since a lot of people travel on that weekend.
- For the venue: try to get a venue that has a lot of “inclusions” such as tables, chairs, linens, tableware, decorations, etc. Also, don’t be afraid to look on the outskirts of your desired location. For example, we would have loved to have a Nashville wedding, but to save a couple thousand dollars [literally], we moved it about thirty minutes south of Nashville.
- For the photographer/videographer: try to find a duo that has been in the business for a while, but perhaps just broke out on their own. Our photography and videography team are husband and wife and they recently broke ties with the larger company they worked for and started their own gig. They still have the experience, but can’t charge the “I have 2k followers on Instagram” price.
- For the catering: again I say look for the “inclusions.” Do they serve the food for you, will they cut the cake, can they provide bartenders, do they provide plates, cups, and drinks? We had some great luck with a delicious meat and three near Nashville. The food is fabulous and its not BBQ – which is another very budget friendly option, but very overdone in the south (IMO).
- For decorations: Fail to plan and plan to fail is my mindset here. I use my 40% off Hobby Lobby coupon religiously! If you have plenty of time to plan your wedding – you can stretch your budget so much further. I am also trying to include things that are re-usable and/or able to be sold second hand. Speaking of second hand – ask around! Talk to all of your aunts, cousins, friends, friends of friends, work friends, etc. They may still have 150 votive holders floating around in their attic somewhere and would be more than happy to give them to you if you can find them! I have also found this website to be super awesome for other things that I need! DIY-ing is always fun, too.. but be careful because sometimes those projects turn out to be way more expensive than just buying a pre-made item by the time you purchase everything needed.
- For flowers: If you have read my other posts, you will see that I won’t have a ton of flowers at my wedding – mostly because you won’t be able to see them in the dark! I am kicking a big cost by not having my bridesmaids carry them, and I am only having flower centerpieces on half of my tables (11 tables total; the other 11 will have lanterns). I also pick up silk flowers when I see them on sale (be careful here too, sometimes the real things are less expensive). You could also consider DIY-ing your flowers, but when I investigated doing this, the added cost of having to purchase or rent the large vases I want made it less sensible.
I hope that you find this post helpful because it can be a whirlwind of dollar signs! Plan, plan, and stick to the plan and you will have a beautiful, yet budget-savvy wedding!
Do you have any ideas that were helpful when budgeting your wedding? Please share them in the comments section!!
Editor’s note: Due to the pandemic, some of the general wedding planning advice we share may not be applicable or possible due to restrictions on events. Please adhere to all current regulations and stay safe and healthy! Get more pandemic wedding resources here.