Wedding Budgeting - Part 1

Color palettes, flowers, bands and venues are usually the first things that come to mind when couples start planning a wedding. When dreaming of planning of their wedding, no one dreams of developing their wedding budget. Although it may not be part of a dream, developing a budget should be the very first step in wedding planning. In my last few blog posts about planning, I referenced a budget quite a bit but realized I had yet to talk about how to develop one. So today I’m sharing tips on how to get started on your own budget plan.


Step 1: Determine Who is Hosting

The first step in developing the budget is to determine the total amount of money you are comfortable spending on the wedding and where the money is coming from.  It's tradition for the bride's family to host the reception, but that definitely doesn't have to be the case anymore.  Sometimes the groom's family opts to split the bill or cover certain items such as the band, getaway car, bridal bouquet and/or the bar bill.  It's also not uncommon for the bride and groom to host the entire reception, cover a portion of the bill or pay for specific items in the budget. Before a single contract is signed or any decisions are made, couples should have conversations with their families to make sure everyone is on the same page in terms of setting expectations for spending. Setting those guidelines from the onset helps prevent uncomfortable conversations or stressful situations later on in the process. The bottom line budget number should include the combination of any/ all contributions for family and/or the couple. 

Step 2: Determine Your Guest List

The easiest way to control your budget is to limit the number of people invited to the wedding.  Each person on your list literally adds hundreds of dollars to your budget and it's not as simple as just the meal and beverage. Think about the save the date, invitation, postage, dinner napkin and if you rent china, glassware, flatware or chairs, the dollars add up quickly.  For every 8-10 guests, you'll need to add a table; which means you're adding a centerpiece, candles and a table linen.  Our recommendation is to think about your list and ask yourself, "Is this someone that we'd call up in 5 years and invite to our home for dinner on a Friday night?"  If the answer is no, then why are you inviting them to celebrate with you at your wedding?  I recommend that you finalize your list before choosing your venue as the number of people that you invite can effect the venue options. You can read more about venue selection and tips for creating your guest list on our previous blog posts. It’s safe to assume that from your total invited guest list, approximately 67-75% of your guests will attend the wedding. 

Step 3: Determine Priorities

Before you begin getting into the specifics of how much to allocate for each line item, think about priorities for the day and decide if there is anything really important.  Understanding and discussing priorities prior to crunching numbers often provides more clarity. As with any budget, sometimes sacrifices need to be made to get what you want.  It’s always easier if couples are on the same page with their priorities from the onset.  Often the conversations about priorities are easier to have before looking at the actual number breakdown.   

Be sure to come back on Thursday, as I’ll be sharing some specific details on what to include in your wedding budget document.