He proposes. You accept. You start planning the wedding! You might pick out your venue, then your dress…and then start thinking…”well, how much is the REST of this day going to cost?” The time to start thinking about your budget (as much as it sucks) is the very beginning. Before you sign any contracts or pick out and pay for specific things, starting out with a budget in mind will prevent you from getting halfway through your wedding planning and then figuring out you have nothing left to spend!
This article comes from my perspective as a recent bride and my personality. I’m a planner. It’s hard to get me to go do something on a weekend if it hasn’t been planned. I’m also very organized, although you’d never be able to tell by the look of my desk. Trust me, I know where everything is within each stack of paperwork! I’ve also been a “budgeter” since 2005, when I realized I had no idea where my money was going on a monthly basis in my last year of college. I started listing my bills, paying them (on time), and slowly started paying off debt…all because I finally decided to budget my life. So when Matt proposed, I immediately started breaking down the amount we had to spend into categories of where I wanted that money to go. And this is what I suggest for you, as well! I hope this information will help the brides who are NOT like me, and maybe even the ones that are, but feel overwhelmed with ALL the things that go into planning a wedding day.
Priorities: The first step is to choose your priorities. Unless you have an unlimited or very generous budget, you will likely have to allocate the most funds to the things you care the most about, whether it’s your wedding photography, the DJ, or the caterer. For example – is it most important that the guests enjoy their dinner immensely? Or is it more important that the memories from your day are captured professionally and beautifully with quality wedding photography? Maybe you want your wedding to be an amazing dance party! Whatever your priorities are, make sure you and your groom know what those are. Write them down so you remember!
Necessities: Once you have chosen your priorities, now you factor in the rest of the necessities. Your priorities might be the photographer, the dress, and your venue. So then the rest of what you NEED for your wedding day will fall into the necessities category (like groomswear, the DJ, shoes, an officiant etc).
Pluses: Now that the priorities and necessities are known, you can make a list of items and services you want as a “plus.” Like it would be a plus to have a photobooth! Or it would be a plus to have pricey letterpressed wedding invites! Or it would be a plus to hire a food truck to stop by at the end of the reception!
Research: The next (and tedious) step is to start emailing and calling people to see how much their services and products cost. Without an idea of what a venue in your area costs, it will be hard to imagine what portion of your budget will be going to that category. Likewise with your DJ, photography, your dress etc… If you don’t research and only budget $500 for a dress, you might be hard-pressed to find a dress in that range, especially if having an incredible wedding gown was your priority! And if you think you can get a caterer to feed 150 people for $900, you might be WAY off base! So be careful with this step and call a few vendors just to get an idea of what things cost.
Allocate: Now you take your wedding budget, whether it’s $10,000 or $30,000, and start allocating funds to each service and item appropriately. You’ll “get what you pay for” here, so you’ll spend more of your budget on the things that matter the most to you. For example, if wedding photography is a priority, you’ll allocate more funds to it to ensure you are getting a quality photographer. If you don’t allocate enough funds to those priorities, the things that mattered the most to you might suffer after all is said and done. And from my perspective as a recent bride, I can definitely tell you that I’m glad I spent the most of my budget on the things that mattered the most to me. I didn’t have fancy wedding shoes, my dress was kind of a mess, and I didn’t get EVERYTHING I wanted on my wedding day – but I got what mattered the most, which was amazing photographs from our wedding day, documenting the sheer joy of the day. And I’m very happy with what we spent our necessities, like the DJ, flowers and catering – all because we really researched these items and found great vendors. We didn’t have to sacrifice quality, but we did have to do a lot of searching for some of our necessities. I would have loved to have a photobooth at our wedding, but the budget just didn’t allow for it, and I’m okay with that because I completely knew what my priorities, necessities and pluses were!
Share Your Story! I truly hope this article has helped you in some way, whether you’re recently engaged and have no idea where to start, or if you’re halfway through planning and just needed a reminder of how to allocate the rest of your budget! If you found this article useful or want to share YOUR planning experience, please leave us a comment below!