So you’re engaged… you’ve probably already started pinning all your dream wedding ideas and hopefully you’ve attended one of our shows, but before you get really serious there is one thing you must cross off your check list…the dreaded wedding budget. Your wedding will most likely be the most expensive party you’ve ever thrown, with an average cost in the US of over $26,000, its going to take some budgeting, but with one in three couples going over their budget, it is clear that something is not right.
Wedding budgets don’t have to be a dreadful daunting topic, as long as you set it upfront and follow our 5 simple steps to set and maintain it. After that, its on to the fun stuff, Happy Planning!
Step 1: Count Your Cash
There’s three things to consider when you begin evaluating your budget. 1) you and your fiancé’s individual savings. 2) The Money you plan to set aside from your current income and 3) any contributions from your parents or other family members.
Evaluating your own savings seems pretty self-explanatory, but there’s more to it than simply logging into your bank account and writing down the balance. Figure out what 3 months of living expenses for both you and your fiancé would be, and keep that in your savings (in case of an emergency or job loss) then subtract that from the total savings amount. Your end number is what you can put towards your wedding budget.
Next, take a look at your monthly income. Subtract and existing debts (such as student loans, rent etc.), then evaluate about 10 percent of that final number. This will be the amount of your monthly income that should be allocated to your wedding fund. Consider setting up a separate account for your wedding savings and enroll in an automatic deposit for the amount you land on for each pay check. If you don’t have to think about taking the money out of your paycheck, it makes the process much less daunting and much more reasonable.
Finally, consider any gifts of money that family members will be contributing. Never assume that your parents will cover the cost of your wedding, but it definitely is worth a conversation. It might be a monetary value that you can add to that separate savings account, or they might offer to pay for a certain element (the bar tab, a photography package etc.)
Step 2: Get Organized!
You will want to be very diligent about tracking your wedding spending. Create a spreadsheet with three columns/categories: Estimated, Modified and Final.
Under the Estimated column you will record the price of each element based on research you’ve done or other brides you’ve spoken with. Under Modified you will record the quotes and proposals you receive after talking to your preferred vendors. Then, in the Final column you will record the actual amount to pay them. Don’t forget to add in tips and gratuity for the categories that are applicable.
You will also want to add an additional line called “extras”. Here you will tack on about 15 percent of your total budget. This is the wiggle room for the little details we all seem to forget. (postage for invitations, plating fees etc).
Step 3: Expect the Unexpected
Before you commit to a particular service or vendor and sign contracts be sure to go over all the details as a couple and then again with a trusted family member or friend. Read all fine print and don’t overlook the little add ons here and there because it really does add up! Preparing yourself and expecting these little add ons will help ease your stress and keep you on track as the date gets closer.
Step 4: Be Innovative and Creative
Thinking outside the box and leaving yourself enough time to brainstorm creative alternatives will insure that many of your dreamy wedding visons will come true. If something is over budget, research DIY solutions or similar alternatives. Remember to save on the little things. Although it might not always be glamorous, take on the nitty-gritty jobs like envelope stuffing (many shops charge a fee to do this, so instead grab a few of your bridesmaids and make a girls night out of it!).
Step 5: Think Twice before you Swipe
We know you’ll be tempted, but be strong and resist the urge to enhance your budget by adding plastic to the equation. A good rule of thumb is that you shouldn’t charge anything for your wedding that you can’t pay off within 30 days. Interest fees add up quick and you aren’t leaving any room for that in the budget. If you must use a credit card, be smart about it. Sign up for a card with good benefits, possibly one that offers flight or travel incentives you could use for a honeymoon!