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7 Great Tips For How To Make A Wedding Budget

How To Make A Wedding Budget

By Jeffrey House Photography


You're starting to come down from your "engagement high" and your thoughts are shifting to planning the wedding of your dreams!

You may feel excited, nervous, anxious, scared or some combination of all these emotions.

I can assure you, you're not alone.  Most couples feel the financial pressures that come with planning their weddings.  And a lot of couples know they need to create a budget, but they have no idea how to make a wedding budget.  Something that's pretty interesting is that approximately 25% of couples plan their wedding without any budget!  If money is not a worry for you, it's fine to skip making a budget.  However, blindly planning their wedding is not an option for most couples.  If  you don't have an unlimited budget do yourself a favor and make it a priority to create one.  

What about the couples that did create a wedding budget?  Well, interestingly enough the majority of these couples came in "over budget."  

I think I just heard some groans and sighs.

I know it sounds hopeless, but it's not.  Obviously, if you plan a wedding without using a budget, you're setting yourself up for failure.  But what about those couples that did have a budget?  Weddings are expensive and it's pretty easy to exceed your budget.  I would be willing to bet a lot of couples go over budget they didn't have a realistic budget in the first place.

However, in this article we are going to provide you with some great tips for developing a realistic wedding budget.  

Before we dive in, I want to share a great website with you -  When you visit this site you will be spend 5-10 minutes entering some information about your area and wedding preferences.  Once this is complete it will calculate your approximate total wedding cost.  I would recommend using these figures for estimating purposes only.  It will even break out your costs per category (venue, DJ, photographer, etc.).  

That being said, let's get to it!

1.  Get Organized

I can't stress enough how important it is to be highly organized when it comes to planning your wedding.  There are so many details and time frames you will need to consider, and monitor.  If organization is not your strong suit, now is the time to commit to taking it seriously.  Being well organized is literally the foundation to your wedding planning and without it things will start to crumble rather quickly.  

2.  Determine What's Most Important To You

Wedding planning can quickly and easily spiral out of control.  You start imagining your big day and you want every detail to be perfect.  Before you know it, you're buying the best of everything and your wedding budget is blowing up!

Before you begin to plan and before you research pricing, sit down and determine what aspects of your wedding are the most important to you - your wedding venue, your wedding dress, your wedding photography, etc.  It's also a good to make a list of things that have little or no importance to you.  You may find you can come up with some inexpensive options or maybe even eliminate the details with little importance.  That would certainly be a great way to save some money.  

Having an understanding of what's important to you and your wedding will really help you to allocate your money to the right places, without getting caught up in all the details.  

3.  The Guest List

You might think your guest list is something that can be done down the road, but it's one of the more critical first steps in planning your wedding.  

Start by making a guest list divided into two categories:

  • Must Invite
  • Possible Invite

On average, couples will spend between $100 - $130 per guest.  So, you can look at this way.  If you're able to "cut" just 10 people from your guest list you can save between $1,000 - $1,300 on your wedding budget.  Now that's significant!

Pro Tip:  The guest list will be a crucial piece of information  when you begin searching for your wedding venue and choosing your venue is one of the first things you will book.  The guest list is important from a pricing and availability perspective.  Some wedding venues have minimum and maximum guest requirements depending on the time of year and whether your wedding will take place on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday.  

4.  Determine The Time Of Year

A question you need to ask yourself is, "what time of year do we want to get married?"  The time of year can have a very significant impact on the overall cost of your wedding.  If you decide to have an "off-season" wedding, you will most likely receive discounts on practically every aspect of your planning.  This could ultimately save you thousands of dollars!

5.  Research The Average Price

This is such an important step in the planning process and it's critical to understanding your true wedding costs.  This is part of the reason that couples exceed their wedding budgets - because their budgets aren't based on real costs.  

Couples should give themselves at least 12 months to plan their weddings, and ideally 12-15 months.  This will allow you the necessary time to research and effectively plan your wedding.

In order to determine the real costs for wedding services (DJ, photographer, videographer, officiant, etc.), you will need to call multiple professionals within each specialty to secure actual pricing for your actual needs.  This should allow you to to determine a reasonable "average" price so you can make a more accurate budget.  

You might budget $900 for a DJ because you heard somewhere this is what they cost.  However, when you start searching for a DJ you find the average price is around $1,800!  What if the rest of your budget is 50% below the actual cost?  You can see how this will quickly cause some big problems!

6.  DIY (With Caution)

As couples progress through the wedding planning process, it occurs to them how much money they can save by incorporating some DIY into their day.  In theory, this is a great idea, however, if I don't caution you then I'm not doing my job properly.  The majority of brides regretted their decision to take on DIY.  

DIY is like driving 12 hours for vacation.  The ride there isn't so horrible because your filled with anticipation and excitement.  However, the ride home is like a nightmare!  It feels like a 30 hour drive!  It's the same thing with adding DIY to your wedding.  You're so excited thinking about your wedding day, you're not allowing yourself to fully see the work that will be involved.  Your wedding day should be all about you - you should feel relaxed and even a little pampered - the last thing you want to do is be put to "work!"  

Many brides say, "I get it, but I will just delegate they DIY stuff to a family member or friend."  Don't fall into this trap.  Once again, in theory this sounds wonderful, but in reality most brides worry their weddings won't be perfect if they put the control in the hands of someone else.  Therefore, they ultimately wind up getting involved and taking on the DIY.  

If you're going to get involved in DIY, figure out the projects you can do prior to the wedding day - for example, you're invitations, your favors, etc.  You want to be able to relax and soak up your wedding day.  Enjoy the moment.

7.  Determine All Your Sources For Money

How you're paying for your wedding is clearly a huge question that needs to be addressed.  Without knowing this information you really can't accurately determine your budget.  So what are the possible sources of money?

The Money You And Your Fiancé Can Contribute

When it comes to paying for your wedding a lot of the details will require deposits and the balances are usually payable a few weeks before your wedding day.  If you're not getting married for another 15-18 months, you will essentially have 14-17 months to save money towards your wedding.  

Money From Both Sets Of Parents

Wedding etiquette used to dictate that the bride's parents were responsible for the wedding costs, while the groom's family would pay for the rehearsal dinner and honeymoon.  However, due to the expense of weddings the etiquette has changed.  The trend is for families to share the wedding expenses as much as possible.  

You've developed a guest list, you've researched pricing, you know the time of year you want to get married, and you've determined where to add DIY.  You have done your homework and are now prepared to approach each set of parents to lay it all out, and ask for their help.  

Small Personal Loan

Certainly, couples don't want to into debt to pay for their weddings, however, taking on a small personal loan that you can afford may be necessary.  If you need to take this step, be sure to contact several local banks and credit unions to find the best terms.

As I previously mentioned, wedding budgets are not easy.  There are a lot of details that need to be considered and it's very easy to get lost in them.  However, these 7 tips we shared with you should really help you to get a better grasp on our budget.  


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