No, not that B-Word….the other one! The wedding one that no one wants to talk about about for fear of stress-induced panic! Those Pinterest boards do not pay for themselves. Yup, we’re talking about budget. To many, your wedding budget can seem confusing, stressful and to some – impossible! So, how can you effectively break things down and beat the big bad B-word?
Step 1: Count up all your pennies.
Some wedding budget guidelines offer percentage breakdowns so you can determine your potential investment for a certain category based on your overall budget. This can be helpful if you already know your overall budget, but what if you don’t? And what if you don’t even know how to figure that out?
To start that task, you need to determine from what sources your wedding budget will be coming. Common options include: the couple themselves – both current income or savings, either or both sets of parents, or wedding gifts from other family members or close friends. For an idea of your starting point, you’ll need to do an inventory of your own finances, as well as asking those who would potentially contribute if they are able to or planning to do so. If they are willing and able, it is important to ask the tough question: how much? Without that knowledge, you will have more difficulty along the way planning with nebulous ideas and random guesstimates. As difficult as it seems, since
everybody nobody likes to discuss money, you need to try to pin down precise amounts with anyone other than yourselves who will be providing any portion of your wedding finances.
Step 2: Learn what to expect in your market.
After you know what your kitty looks like, you’ll need to consider reasonable costs for the products and services you will want to be booking. You can find lots of basic percentage info at theknot.com or Martha Stewart Weddings or similar wedding guides.
Another interesting site you to explore is Cost of Wedding. This site can help you get a better sense for averages in your location and based on other factors. If you are working through your budget planning on your own and are having trouble, you may want to consider scheduling at least a single consultation with a local wedding planner. We can give you a good assessment of your overall budget as well as how much good local vendors will run you in your specific market. Many of our clients are surprised and shocked to find out how much a quality vendor in their area in each category adds up to. Markets can vary tremendously, so asking your friend who lives in a small town how much she paid her DJ might be of no help to you in the big city.
If you’re paying for your honeymoon yourselves, you’ll want to remember to budget for that as well. Many of our clients determine that our services are such a necessity that they will pay for those services outside of their wedding budget, however if you are trying to keep your budget clear, you should also plan to budget for professional wedding coordination services (at the very least!) or full planning if you want that.
Step 3: Prioritize, Prioritize, Prioritize.
Budgeting for a wedding is as much about money as it is about priorities. If you care the most about your photos, then doling out a big check to your photographer should be no big deal, as long as you understand it might mean shaving expenses in other categories to make up for that splurge. In the end, it is up to you to determine how you will divide your full wedding budget. We usually tell our clients to envision their budget like they are sharing a pie with their vendors. If they give a big slice to their photographer, then the DJ has to have a smaller piece or vice versa. This might be totally cool with the DJ – maybe he’s on a diet anyway.
It can be difficult to work in flux not knowing how much each piece is going to cost, so prioritizing and booking your most important things first can also help you keep your expenses reasonable. Book the vendors highest on your priority list first, then you can feel comfortable knowing that if you have to forgo a photo booth or live ceremony music, it is because you had already decided you cared the least about those categories.
Pro tip: Do these steps BEFORE you start looking at vendors or you’ll certainly fall in love with a vendor or two you can’t afford.
How you want to dole out your wedding day moolah is totally up to you and yours, so take the time to think about this difficult subject so you are happy with your end result. And don’t forget to get started saving for that honeymoon to the Virgin Islands you’ve been ogling. Unless it is possible to become a newlywed and a stowaway, that is… 😉