You’re engaged, you’ve shouted it from the rooftops and now you’re ready to start your wedding planning.
Are you really ready though? In my previous blog entry I talked about the importance of sitting down with your partner and discussing what was truly important to you as a couple from a wedding. I discussed using what was important to you both to set a realistic budget.
But Sara, what is a realistic wedding budget, I hear you cry. I get it, I do, when we started planning our wedding, I didn’t have a basis for what “our” wedding should cost. I knew the average cost of a wedding of course. But how would that translate for James and I?
Here are my steps for getting to a realistic budget for you.
You have to find out if you will receive any financial help from your families. Here in the UK, talking about money is pretty uncomfortable. We just don’t like doing it. Unfortunately, you need to pull up those big pants, take a swig of wine and ask the question. It might not be a ‘lump sum’ of cash but it might be that someone has their heart on purchasing a certain element for the wedding.
I will caveat this and say please do not ‘expect’ money from others. If they can and want to help you, fantastic! If they don’t want to, or they can’t then you can still have your dream wedding day! Have no fear!
Your Financial Contribution
Work through, how much money you can realistically put aside every month. I say realistically because you want to be able to still enjoy life together. Make sure you still allow for a date night, treats for both of you and the things you would normally enjoy. Of course, you can cut back on the non essentials to save more money but nobody wants to feel as though life has stopped because of the wedding.
Make sure to take into account those months where extra money might be coming out such as the month the car goes in for its service and MOT, and let’s not forget good old December and Christmas!
Combine that with the money from outside contributors and you have the start of your budget. Simples!
The Guest List
Get to grips with how many people you want to invite. It is very tempting (and oh so easy) to get carried away and go overboard.
My advice is to write down every single person and then revisit that list a couple of times to see if you definitely want all those people there. If you come from large families you might not have a choice but to have a big wedding. Remember, this is YOUR day, so invite the people you truly want there!
The more guests you have, the more it is going to cost. I will give you a moment to digest that. The more guests that you invite, means more meals, more drinks, more place settings, more tables, bigger cake…you get the idea. It is a larger per head cost. So be selective with who makes the final cut.
The Important Things
Hopefully, you will have already worked out what the most important areas for you as a couple are. The non negotiables. Start to allocate your budget to the bits most important to you. For our wedding, photographers and cake were my top priorities.
Once you have allocated the larger portion of the budget to the items that are most important to you, then you will know how much is left over for the bits that are not as important to you.
I will say, make sure you have allocated money for the registrar / officiant / celebrant, as without them there isn’t a marriage to be celebrating. So, whilst that may not factor as your top priority, they do need to be one of items that is allocated straight away.
Throughout all of our planning we constantly heard the phrase ‘a wedding is only as expensive as you make it.’ This phrase annoys me no end. Whilst it is true, it does feel as though you are being patronised for wanting your dream wedding.
There are suppliers across the whole spectrum of wedding planning, from budget to high end luxury and everywhere in between. You just need to do your research and find the ones that fit with your budget.
Definitely read the T&C’s from all the suppliers, there can be hidden charges or requirements. Does the venue have minimum numbers? Do they charge cakeage – this was a new on me that I only discovered a couple of years ago, some venues will charge to cut your cake up to serve your guests – always read the fine print to make sure you aren’t going to have a number of hidden extras that you didn’t account for.
This is where having a wedding planner comes in handy. We have a black book of suppliers, ready and waiting. We have already done the research for you.
Once you have your budget and you have done step 5 above, see how closely they match up. If they are poles apart then you have some more work to do. You need to repeat the previous step. Rinse and repeat until they marry up!
If you have signed up to my newsletter, you should have received a budget tracker tool. It will help keep you on top of your finances.
Weddings have a way of making you come down with ‘shiny new thing syndrome’. We get caught up in the Pinterest and Instagram images. It is completely possible to achieve the ‘feel’ of the imagery without breaking the bank.
I do not advocate going into debt for your wedding, you don’t need to take out bank loans or extra credit cards. With the right tools (and the right planner) you don’t need to lose sleep stressing about your wedding budget.