If working through a budget seems like a bit of a mood-killer, let us be the first to say we understand. But tackling the budget monster early on will save both of you a lot of stress and headache in the future.
Before we even start talking numbers, it’s important to remember that whatever your budget is, it’s OK. People pull off beautiful weddings at every financial level. Figuring out a realistic budget will allow you to go into your planning process with healthy expectations and a defense against the urge to buy every single thing related to your dream wedding.
Camden Chitwood from Emerson Events works with each of her clients to create a budget early on. “Sometimes couples can get so caught up in what everything is going to cost, that they aren’t excited during the initial vendor meeting. Knowing what you can spend within the budget you’ve allotted before walking into the appointment and being upfront with the vendor makes things much more relaxed!”
GETTING A BALLPARK ESTIMATE
Reports show that the median American wedding costs $18,000, but that’s factoring in couples across a variety of geographic areas and with different financial situations. The cost of your wedding will depend on where you live, how many guests you invite, and what you choose to spend. To get started, think of where you might fall on the spectrum – do you expect to have a large budget for your wedding or are you doing things on a shoestring? Whatever the case, get a ballpark figure in mind.
Find the average cost of weddings in your zip code at CostofWedding.com.
SECOND, DRILL DOWN
After you have your ballpark budget, plug the number into a wedding budget tool like CostofWedding.com, Wedding Wire, and The Knot, and let it do the work for you. These tools will tell you what percentage of your budget you should spend on big ticket items like your ceremony venue, reception hall, wedding dress, and vendors. You can refer back to this when making big purchases, keeping in mind that on top of every contract you sign, you’ll need to leave a little room for tax and tip. A good rule of thumb is to add 15% to account for tips and unexpected expenses. (Hint: Do this quickly by multiplying your total budget by 1.15. The resulting figure is your actual expected expenses.)
FINALLY, START A WEDDING FUND
Now that you have a ballpark figure and a basic budget, consider building a wedding fund. By pooling the money into one place, you won’t have to worry about cobbling it together every time you’re ready to make a new purchase or put a new deposit down or accidentally spending money that should have gone into your wedding fund on something else instead. If you’re paying for or contributing to the wedding yourself, one of the easiest ways to start is by dividing your ballpark figure by 40, since that’s roughly how many weeks you have left in your planning process. The resulting figure is how much you should set aside each week.
Make things easy on yourself – set up an automatic transfer and get it off your plate. Your wedding fund will start to build itself, and you won’t have to scramble for the funds every time you sign a new contract. It’s a win for all involved.
WRAPPING UP THE BUDGET
If you’ve made it this far, congratulations. Exhale. You’ve just saved yourself a world of headache and stress. You’ll find your decisions like how many people you can invite to the wedding and when and where you’ll get married much easier to make.
FINDING YOUR VENUE
Armed with a rough estimate as to how much you want to spend and a good idea as to what you want to spend it on (remember your Top Three Things?), you’re ready to start shopping around for the venue or venues where it will all come to life.
As you look at venues keep in mind how many people you’ll need each location to hold (we’ll touch more on the guest list later, but for now you can move ahead with a general figure), whether or not the venue is available during your preferred day and season, whether or not your venue will need to be wheelchair accessible, and what add-ons and amenities come with the venue’s wedding package. Some venues will rent just the space, in which case you’ll be in charge of finding tables, chairs, and everything else, while others will throw in the whole kit n’ caboodle – from tables and chairs to in-house catering and a complimentary wedding coordinator.