Creating a Wedding Budget: How to Stay on Track, Get Money, and Not go Crazy
Hello, hello! Whew! We’re just coming back from our trip to Michigan for some much needed rest and relaxation, and per our Instagram poll, we’re sharing with you our tips and how-to’s on budgeting for your wedding day. This is a near and dear topic to us as planners, as creating a budget for your event is the most important factor in the planning process: without an established budget, the entire planning process will lack a level of control and consistency (that is, you will always be stressed about the costs piling up). We’ll be talking more so on how to create a budget versus what you can do to save money or get costs down, but we’ll be sharing our tips on that as well.
First and foremost, reach out to vendors. Might sound crazy, right? The fact of the matter is, weddings and parties are expensive. Having the Instagram worthy and blog published events you see generally are quite the investment, and above all else, educating yourself on the costs and investments you’re going to be making will go a long way in determining what is reasonable, overpriced, or too good to be true. Don’t be afraid to ask close friends and family about what they spent on various vendors, or ask for referrals, or ask that vendor you see in a Facebook ad what their average client spends on their services.
Because friends, when you’ve already given yourself hard numbers to follow before reaching out to vendors, you’ll more than likely fall over in shock in your seat. When you get a response back saying that the greenery installation along a mantle is going to be $1500, and that’s what you thought your whole floral budget would be, it’s a hard pill to swallow. Or when the venue you’ve been dying over Instagram starts at $75 per person with a minimum of 150 guests (and that’s not including bar), it causes a cold sweat to break out. Educate yourself on your region’s averages, or your dream vendor’s average, and go from there.
After your initial research, determine what is important to you for your wedding. Sit down with your better half, and put it into writing what is important, whether it's the venue versus the date, a certain photographer or more so a style of photography, food, entertainment, invitations. Prioritize where you want the money invested from your wedding, and then get ballpark quotes from those vendors. It’s not a quite a priority at this time to say you need X, Y, and Z, but by getting estimates that may be a little higher than what they will be in actuality will lessen sticker-shock and prepare you for worst case scenarios.
Determine who is funding what. This is a must have conversation with parents or anyone who has said they would like to contribute to the wedding. It is best to be blunt, and keep a written record of exact amounts or what vendors they are contributing to. Doing this will be awkward, without a doubt, but trust me when I say that making sure you keep everyone accountable for everything they commit to in the long run will be better for relationships with family members. Share what you have already collected from your research earlier, and be honest as to what costs are going to be for those vendors. Don’t be afraid to share that you would rather have this baker over another, or this time of year at a venue because it’s a different cost.
After this series of chats and talks, you’re going to feel the need to hard-core stick to your budget. I’m going to drop a bomb here, so brace yourself: don’t do it.
By forcing yourself to stick to a number, you’re going to be overwhelmed and find yourself cutting costs from unnecessary avenues (booking your photographer for 7 hours versus 8, renting table overlays versus proper cloths, etc). Setting yourself up to have leeway, spending between (for example) $30-35,000 versus just $30,000 without exception will give breathing room (and, referring back to those ballpark quotes you got form the beginning, prepare yourself for the investment of weddings and help with the unexpected costs).
Now that there is an understanding of what the important aspects of your wedding are going to cost, divide and conquer the rest of the budget with other costs. This is where an Excel sheet is key! You can also keep track in your wedding binder, or have your wedding planner keep track of your budget for you. I would also be sure to include when payments have been applied and when payments are due (and making sure your phone, planner, or agenda have it noted when these payments are due in order to avoid contract cancellations). More and more vendors are attaching late fees for payments not made on time – avoid the stress of doubling your bill with your team by sending a reminder several weeks before a payment is due.
So friends, creating a budget for your wedding educate yourself about the industry. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and while you hold yourself accountable to making sure things get done, stay true to yourself and what YOU want. Planning a wedding can be stressful and overwhelming with the details and questions and dealing with family and friends as it is, and anything regarding money is bound to compound those stresses. By creating a budget and giving yourself the grace to have a range to stay within, you’ll be saving yourself the headache and worry of everything relating to money.