6 Steps to Creating a Realistic Wedding Budget

wedding photos
Source: Brides

The day is about to come when you will finally walk down the aisle as your dream wedding comes true. Your entire family will be there, your closest and best of friends and officemates, and they will all be spending their day with you to celebrate this life-changing occasion. As it is, this is also one of the most expensive milestones in you and your fiancé’s life.

In order for all of that to happen, you need to make sure that your wedding funds will be enough to cover the expenses. Not only do you want to make this event happen the way you dreamed it to be, but you also want to make sure your guests enjoy and have fun. Budgeting can cause a lot of stress, and if not done correctly, can cause you to lose track of things and you might end up paying for things you didn’t really want and losing money because of it. One of the most important parts of your wedding timeline should be creating a wedding budget -- here are 6 steps how.

How Do You Set a Wedding Budget? 

wedding photos
Source: Brides

Setting a realistic wedding budget is a major step you need to make before you launch into the wedding preparation. Your budget is your driving force, and basically your green light to bring your dream wedding to reality. Always think in terms of what you need to really prioritize. It can be confusing, especially when you’re right smack in the middle of the preparations. But when you have enough time, you’ll be able to build that vision exactly as you need for your priorities so that you’ll be able to keep track of things.

Remember, every little thing counts! Everything from the number of guests attending, the catering menu, the types of flowers, and the number of bridesmaids and groomsmen you have down to how many rolls of ribbon you need or how much cardstock you still need to print your invitations.

1. Where Will the Funds Come From? 

wedding budget
Source: Storymix Media

In order for you to figure out what your working budget will be and how much you can spend, sit down with your partner, and figure out where exactly will all your wedding budget will be coming from. Will it be just the two of you covering the expenses for the wedding or will you have family members contributing financially to your wedding?

See how much both of you currently have set aside, and set a ceiling budget. Then figure out how much more you need to save. No matter what, do not budge from your budget. You may move some items around, but as much as you can stick to your budget.

Need financial help? Sometimes even without you asking, family members will love to contribute to the wedding whether financially or in labor to help things along. If that is not the case,  approach some of your family members for help either financially or to lend a hand during the wedding preparation.

2. Assess Your Priorities

wedding budget
Source: Martha Stewart

Before going in and listing all your possible expenses, your partner and you should assess your priorities. What are your expectations? What is most important to you? Try rating in order of importance from highest to lowest by putting 1 for the most important part of this wedding, and 10 as the least important part of this wedding:

  • Outfits
  • Wedding Decor
  • Food
  • Convenience
  • Music
  • Family and Friends
  • Photography
  • Spirituality
  • Liquor
  • Wedding View and Location

3. Create a Breakdown of Possible Expenses

wedding budget
Source: The Knot

You’ll need to create a list of possible expenses for your upcoming wedding. Putting everything into a budget planning worksheet will help you out immensely as far as automatically computing things and keeping all the information stored in one file. Your list would usually contain the following:

  • Ceremony Venue Location
  • Reception Venue Location
  • Caterer
  • Flowers/Decor
  • Bridal Bouquet and Bridal Party Flowers
  • Photographer/Videographer
  • Wedding Coordinator
  • Events Coordinator
  • Wedding Cake
  • Invitations
  • Wedding Favors
  • Marriage License Fee
  • Officiant Fee
  • DJ/Band
  • Liquor/Bar
  • Wedding Rings
  • Hair and Makeup
  • Wedding Gown
  • Tuxedo

These are just a few of the major expenses, and you can expect that there will be more that will add to this list. The good thing is that most vendors have partnerships with other vendors, so you can get a buy one get one deal. For instance, a caterer might work closely with a florist and endorse that florist for a discounted rate. Make sure to get all the information you can so that you and your partner can sit down and compare notes later.

When you look for vendors, try to go for those who you can find in your local area, or who are nearby your wedding venue. If you aren’t able to get a quote online, make sure you get in touch with them over the phone. Check what each one has to offer, and what the limitations are. Categorize all vendors that are in the same price range, or rank them according to what is included in their package.

3. Keep an Eye Out For Hidden Costs 

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Source: Pinterest

By this point, you will probably be up to your eyes and ears in brochures, pricing, fliers, posters, information from online sales, and whatnot. Once you’ve compiled your vendors, make sure you read the fine print in their contracts or their terms. A lot of couples tend to overlook these details and when your wedding day rolls around, you’ll find out you can’t admit more than your allotted guests, otherwise, you will be charged gargantuan fees. Or else, your guests are partying hard, and you find out they need to clear out in an hour only because the reception started an hour late.

Check with your vendors and have them clarify what the terms are, what extra costs, charges, or penalties you should know about. Find out if there are different rates for the weekends if there are additional charges for removal of trash, costs of accidental breakages, or corkage for alcohol or for items that are not brought by your caterer. Be aware of hidden wedding costs and how to avoid them!

4. Prioritize What You Will Spend On

wedding budget
Source: Brides

Once you’ve done your research, you’ll have a pretty good idea of the average cost of each item on your wedding checklist. What you want to do is see if you can accommodate the average budget on each item. You can of course go over the average budget on a certain item, but you might need to limit spending on other items. Priorities which items on your list you want to spend on.

For instance, you might want to spend a good fraction of the wedding dress and the tuxedo, and not spend too much on flower decor since your wedding will be in a garden.  Or you can forego the ball gown and long train, and increase the budget for the caterer to keep everyone fed and quenched during dinnertime.

5. Minimize Costs Where You Can

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Source: HGTV.com

There are plenty of ways to save on costs. A lot of DIY options can be employed to minimize the cost of certain items like centerpiece packages from your florist, or optional decor. If you are getting married in a certain season, take advantage of the local and seasonal produce. You can even DIY your wedding favors to save you money. This works well, especially if there are a lot of hands to pitch in and help.

6. Track Your Expenditures

wedding budget
Source: Pinterest

If you are not used to doing this, it might feel a little difficult. But this is something you need to really keep an eye on. Keep track of which vendors require a deposit upfront, and when the final payment will be due. You’ll be spending money in and out, so you need to make sure that you document your expenses at all times, no matter how small.

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