Most of us would agree that the very first thing engaged couples will consider when planning for their wedding is the budget: “How much are we going to spend on our wedding?”.
Your wedding budget depends on various factors: the venue, outfits, number of guests, theme/decors, wedding planner, food and beverage, to name a few. A lot of couples fall into the trap of peer pressure where they tend to have higher expectations for their wedding based on their friends’ weddings or even weddings of famous celebrities. Couples should understand that people have different situations, priorities, and styles. Stick to your and your partner’s preferences and values, and agree to a single theme or goal which both of you are comfortable and happy with. A wedding doesn’t have to cost your entire life savings and below are important steps that will help you achieve a healthy budget:
Identify the Financial Source
Weddings require financial input to get things moving. Therefore, it is necessary that you know where you will get the money to pay for the wedding. Will the funds only come from you and your fiancé? For some cultures, contributions from other family members and friends and even the whole community, can be very common. Knowing the financial source will give a you rough estimate of the amount of money you are comfortable to spend towards your wedding.
Draft a Guest List
The sum of people who are likely to attend your wedding will greatly impact your budget. It is not crucial to get the exact number of attendees at this point, but make a list of people who you are likely to invite and then shortlist later on. What is important in this step is to get an idea of how big your wedding is going to be.
Know What is Important (Must Haves)
Prioritize! What are the most important things for you and your fiancé to have in your wedding? It is necessary to note the vital things that both of you would want to stand out or remember at your wedding.
To give you an example, me and my fiancé (now husband), agreed that it is important for us to hire excellent videographers and photographers because whatever they capture will be our reminder and memory of our big day. Memories are important to us. It doesn’t have to be the best or expensive – but choose someone who fits your personality and taste.
For some couples, good music or a good live band and an open bar is a must; for others tons of beautiful flowers are a necessity; and some believe that fancy outfits and hair and make-up are the most important. Every couple is different. Discuss this with your partner and compromise.
Having a list of priorities would enable you to effectively work on your budget, give more focus and time on what is important. Highlight these priorities in your budget list.
Crunch the Numbers
Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. You should list every single item you will need for the wedding ceremony and reception and then get an estimated amount of each one. You don’t have to know the exact amounts right away. An estimate would be a good start and then, discuss with your partner how much are you actually willing and comfortable to spend on each item. Be realistic in setting a budget – if you have 100 guests, a $500 budget for food and drinks will not be enough.
According to research, the wedding reception takes the most of the wedding budget (about 48–50%), next is photography and videography which could take up to 12% and then the attire is about 10%, flowers and decors takes another 10%, entertainment (like band, music, emcee, etc) 8%, wedding ceremony takes 3%, wedding rings up to 3%, stationery takes 2%, gifts and other miscellaneous around 5-8%. You can use this as a guide to set a realistic budget for your wedding items.
To simplify your wedding budget planning and tracking, you can download a copy of my Wedding Budget and Order Tracker for free. It has all possible items that you might need for your wedding day, pre-wedding parties, and honeymoon with extra spaces for you to input items that might be unique to your wedding.
Stick to the Budget
Now that you have all the numbers, the crucial and sometimes the hardest part is sticking to it. You could have a dreamy wedding without overspending and costing your life savings. Spending what you are comfortable with doesn’t mean a cheap or bad wedding. You will be surprised how far a small budget could go with some research, a little creativity and some DIY.