You're Engaged! Now let's talk about the budget...
You’re finally engaged and ready to hit the ground running with your wedding planning. You may have been dreaming of your perfect wedding for years, but don’t let ideas get ahead of your finances! While setting a budget can seem like a dull task – especially when there’s much more exciting tasks to be getting on with – hello engagement party – it’s a necessary task. Your budget is arguably one of the most important parts of planning your wedding.
In all of the excitement of wedding planning, it can be easy to just start looking without knowing how much you have to spend. No matter your wedding plans – having a wedding budget means you’ll be able to make informed decisions at the right time and stop your finances working against you. If you’ve got an overall budget in mind – great – research options, get some quotes and start to allocate parts of your budget to areas within your wedding that the two of you wish to have. If you haven’t got a figure in mind yet – don’t worry there’s time to figure it all out – this guide will help you!
Whatever your situation, there are some general guidelines for setting your wedding budget:
Step One – Figure Out Who Is Contributing To The Budget
You may already know that it’s just you and your partner who will be solely paying for your entire wedding – in which case this step will be a really easy one! However, it may be that parents or other family members wish to chip in and contribute to your budget. Finding out who is willing to contribute is going to ease decisions further down the line and give you an idea on just how much you have to spend. Of course, this can be a tricky conversation to have. We’ve come a long way from expecting the bride’s family to pay for the entire wedding but it is worth knowing whether either family wishes to help with a specific cost. For example if your family wishes to pay for the transport or flowers – you can remove it from the budget.
It’s worth noting that contributions come not only in the form of money. Being a wedding supplier myself I know the amount of time, effort and cost that go into areas of bringing a wedding together. Having a talented friend or family member make your wedding stationery for example will free up costs for you to spend in other areas. Just make sure that whoever volunteers to help out in this way is open to having conversations with you about your theme and ideas and knows just how much work they are taking on! Depending on the job they have been tasked with – it may include them missing moments throughout the day or mean a very early start on the day of the wedding.
Step Two – Decide What You Can Afford
Once you know whether you are receiving any help from your family you are then able to focus on what you are both able to comfortably afford. You will need to comfortably afford to spend. First, look at your savings and how much you are willing to allocate from your savings fund towards your wedding. You should always keep an emergency fund to cover unforeseen costs that could arise in day-to-day life – such as an emergency repair. Plus it may not be the best idea to dip into a special saving fund – such as a house deposit.
Then write down exactly how much income you both receive per month. Deduct all of your consistent financial commitments such as your rent or mortgage, insurances, transport costs and food budget per month. On top of the bills that come out each month you’ll have extra expenses such as birthday and Christmas presents to budget for, days out with friends, new clothes, haircuts etc.. So set a realistic amount for those extras. After you’ve taken it all away, what is left is the amount you have to spend or to save for your wedding. You may decide you are going to sacrifice some of your normal monthly spends in order to save for the wedding. It’s perfectly normal to do this – however be realistic! It’s unrealistic to think you won’t have a haircut for the next two years until the wedding comes around or that you’ll get public transport every single day to and back from work rather than drive. You’ve got to live after all – there’ll usually be easy ways to manage savings for a wedding. Could you skip your twice monthly blow-dry and go a few weeks between salon visits? Do you really need a takeaway every single week? Do you use your gym membership as much as you intended to when you first signed up? Could you switch some of your bills to cheaper providers or negotiate a better rate on your phone contract and Internet?
Set up your banking to automatically round up your purchases and to save the change, all of these little changes will add up and won’t make a massive difference to your standard of living.
Step 3 – Estimate Your Guest Numbers
The cost of a wedding is generally based on just a couple of things: the guest list and the level of luxury you are wanting. The number of guests will determine the size of venue you need, catering costs, stationery orders, the size of your cake and favours. The number of guests you have at your wedding will hugely influence the cost and the amount you’ll need to save for your wedding. Larger guest lists may mean you need more time to save for everything you both want, or you may decide to cut down the all day guest list and have a larger evening reception. As a usual rule of thumb just under half of the budget is spent on the wedding venue (or marquee) and the catering. Once you start to collect quotes from venues and caterers they’ll be able to give you an accurate cost per head of each of your guests.
Step 4 – Work Out Your Biggest Cost
Your wedding venue is usually your biggest cost and one of the first things you’ll book for your wedding. So, it makes sense to have a realistic idea of the cost for this element. Work out the cost of your venue hire plus your food and drink charges and see whether this is affordable for you. Not every venue will offer the same pricing model, so enquire early about the costs and ask for any extra charges such as corkage so as they won’t be an unaccounted cost further down the line.
Although it may not be the most exciting task taking the time to create a wedding budget will be absolutely vital in the long run. Not only does it ensure that you hire the vendors that you can afford and budget for the luxuries that you want it also ensures you aren’t hit with unexpected bills and costs during the planning process. Over half of brides report that they had forgotten to include something in their original wedding budget, so don’t be afraid to chop and change and add to your budget as you go along. In fact I would highly recommend that you do.
Ready to get planning? Great! You are in the right place; check out my other blogs for more helpful wedding planning information.