One of the biggest challenges when planning a wedding, aside from the family politics, is setting a wedding budget and sticking to it throughout the process. But with a little planning right at the start, before you spend a single dollar, then arguments can be easily avoided. Follow these budgeting tips for your wedding day and it will be smooth sailing:
Decide who is paying for what, up front
Right at the beginning of the planning process, sit down with your partner and any other contributing parties to calculate your budget so that you know exactly how much you have to spend. It's also important to decide who is paying for what. Are you splitting it between you? Are you buying your dress while he is paying for the reception?
If you have parents or other relatives contributing funds, what are they expecting it to be spent on? How much influence do they expect to have on your choices as a result? This is a situation that can turn ugly if communication breaks down during the process. You need to manage expectations right from the start to avoid conflict.
Consider the vital costs
Now that you know how much budget you have to work with and who is paying for what, you need to break down the wedding into key elements. Make sure you both have the same expectations for how much things are going to cost.
First things first, identify the vital components of the day, without which your wedding can’t happen. It’s easy to get caught up in little things like napkin designs or other small visual elements which really don’t matter. I would suggest your essential vital costs are allocated to:
- The venue and wedding license
- The attire for the couple
- The wedding rings
Next, address the nice-to-haves
Next, you can look at all the other elements to the wedding. Many things are truly optional and will depend on the size of your wedding and of course, your budget. Here are some of the most expensive elements of a wedding which you'll need to consider after the essentials:
- The reception venue
- The reception food and drink
- The honeymoon
- The photographer
Some people would argue these are also essential to any wedding, but you can get married without them! However, the thing to remember is they can vary hugely in price and can add up very quickly. Reception food and drink is by far the biggest portion of any wedding bill, so you need to work out how much you can afford to spend.
Don’t underestimate the cost of flowers
If you are planning to use a professional florist for your wedding flowers, make sure you shop around for the best option. Flowers are another non-essential item which can take a huge chunk of money out of your budget. Talk to florists about your color and flower choices as some flowers are far more expensive than others. It’s also worth exploring silk and dried flower options too. Or, perhaps you'd like to consider DIYing your wedding flowers?
Don't forget accommodations
Are you staying at a hotel the night before or the night of the wedding? Don't forget to budget for those accommodations! Be clear with relatives who may need to stay because they are in the wedding – who is paying for their accommodations? Clarify these details up front to avoid conflict or surprise bills after the fact.
Remember to factor in transport costs
How are you getting to your wedding venue or from the wedding to the reception? Are you hiring a bus or trolley to transport your guests from the wedding to the reception? Transportation can be another added expense which people forget about until the last minute. Make sure you include it in your budget plans.
“This was a big one for me, I was a little stubborn and wanted everyone to see me roll up in the prettiest car. We did settle for something cheaper in the end with some hard compromise on my part, but looking back it really wasn’t a big detail on the day and didn’t affect the perfectness of my wedding half as much as I thought.” – Katie from orlajames.com
Fill in the rest with your remaining budget
Now that we've covered budgeting for all of the most vital (and most expensive) elements of a wedding, here are the other areas you may choose to spend money on to complete your big day plans:
- Wedding cake
- Décor for the reception room
- Dresses for bridesmaids
- Music/band for the reception
Whether your budget is $500 or $50,000 you just need to make sure you and your future spouse are both on the same page. Decide on the key elements for the both of you, and then budget appropriately for the rest. Choosing to be intentional right from the start is the best way to avoid arguments throughout the planning process. Best of luck and happy planning!
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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 resources for planning a pandemic wedding here.