I don’t know about you but there is a part of me which is very British and absolutely hates discussing money and budgets. However, I have spent a lot of time in The States, where there is no shame in discussing money. And most of my career has involved building and
running budgets. With this in mind, I always approach wedding budgets with my business brain rather than my emotional and creative side – and I would highly recommend you do the same.
Annoyingly this is the one thing everyone ends up talking about when wedding planning, however much they don’t want to, is their wedding budget. I am going to use the word budget throughout this blog, but know in my head I am using the word investment. I truly believe each and every financial element to your wedding is an investment into your big day. If you think of all the things you need to spend money on to make your dreams come true for your big day, you must view each and every element as an investment into your wedding rather than another expense or cost. That being said there will be some things which you wish you weren’t spending on, but you just have to, e.g. portable loos!
I am often asked how to get to your budget? I’m afraid this really depends on your finances – what you have available and what you feel comfortable spending. This takes you through some ideas and suggestions, they will not be applicable to all, so take what you want from this and please don’t feel this is a ‘how to’ guide, merely some guidance and commentary from my experience in building and executing budgets.
Some top tips to establish what your budget might look like would be:
- Set up a joint account for your wedding savings. You’ll find there are periods in the planning timeline where you are paying all your suppliers, and other times when there is a bit of a lull in making payments. Try and get an account where you can easily access the money, yet still gain interest when you aren’t touching the money. Clearly the interest won’t be amazing, but as we know ‘every little counts’.
- 89% of all couples contribute to their own wedding budget. Look at your monthly income and expenditure and see how much disposable income you have left at the end of each month.
- Start moving what used to be ‘rainy day’ savings to your wedding fund.
- Stop having takeaways. Transfer the money you would have spent on these to your wedding account – you win on two fronts here – healthier for your bank account and your nutrition!
- Avoid any big holidays before your honeymoon – save that money as this will make your honeymoon all the more super special.
- Instead of going out for date nights, cook at home, with a wonderful bottle of wine and a wedding planning task to complete.
- Don’t be afraid to ask those who you think might be looking to contribute to your wedding if they are planning to do so. If this is too awkward then be sensible and budget without expecting any of their contributions. If they do end up offering some money later on down the line then you can use this for spending money on your honeymoon, or upgrade something on the wedding day, for example to an additional wedding cocktail at the reception, or go and get those shoes you really really wanted.
Sadly, although super sensible and dull, everyone has a budget… regardless of what your budget is, there are a few things you always need to remember:
- You both need to agree to the budget and how that money will be spent. It’s no good agreeing you’ll spend X amount, but you both have different agendas on how that money is going to be spent.
- You can be pretty confident you will go over budget, make sure you have a contingency fund whether it be because you just couldn’t resist those shoes or because of an additional 10 guests you hadn’t anticipated wanting to invite when you first put together your wedding guest numbers. The Knot reckons 47% of couples will go over by around 5% of their original budget.
- VAT – I can not scream this loud enough – as an end consumer we are so used to VAT being included in all prices. Frustratingly, lots of wedding suppliers exclude VAT in their quote. So if you’re not checking about VAT each time you receive a quote you can suddenly be 20% (based on today’s rate) higher than anticipated. That’s major!
- Keep track of your budget! If you are working with Mrs T Weddings we’ll be keeping track of everything including your budget in Aisle Planner (including forecast Vs actual).
Couples will always want to know what is the normal amount to spend on X or Y or Z, you can google and get an idea of these numbers, but you really can spend as much or as little as you wish. Every couple will have a different priority on how they want to distribute their budget, I hate anyone saying you should spend this on this etc. You should spend the money you want and have available exactly as you wish. You might go super big on your photographer as you love their style and they command a larger fee, yet go super low on flowers. Everyone’s priority is different and you as a couple need to figure out your priorities.
With all that being said and me shirking around giving any straight answers, I know we all love a bit of guidance to help us navigate wedding planning, so this gives you a rough guide of how you could distribute your budget. Please please please don’t use this as the rules to budgeting for a wedding – purely a rough piece of guidance.
An example of how your budget might be made up:
- Venue – 15%
- Florist – 10%
- Photographer – 8%
- Catering – 8%
- Bridal Wear – 7%
- Grooms Wear – 5%
- Entertainment – 5%
- Bar & Drinks – 4%
- Wedding Rings 3%
- Rentals & Decor – 3%
- Videographer – 3%
- Ceremony/Celebrant – this will really depend on your choices, church or registry office and, or celebrant. Consider 2% as a good gauge of pricing.
- Stationery – 2%
- Cake – 2%
- Favours & Gifts – 2%
- Transport – 2%
- Beauty – 2%
- Travel & Accommodation – 2%
I haven’t included your Wedding Planner in this as this really does depend on you and what you want support with from On-The-Day Coordination to Exclusive Full Wedding Planning. For Full Wedding Planning this will tend to be a % of your total wedding budget, on average around 15% of your overall budget
The next list of events are always going to be separate from your main wedding budget. If you decide you would like to add these elements to your wedding celebrations. Go wild and put the number you think is right against each of these:
- Engagement Party
- Rehearsal Dinner
One of the toughest parts to wedding budgets is that each venue will price things differently, some will charge for each element separately, this is my preference! However, lots of venues will give you their pricing based on per person attending the wedding. The prices per head are slightly frustrating as they will all include and exclude different elements. Whichever pricing you are looking at, always break it down by all the parts that are included. Although I’m not crazy about pricing per head, do be aware of your wedding’s price per head, as it’s a very good number to have to hand when trying to decide if you are wavering on if you want to invite someone to the wedding. The question to ask yourselves is would you want to spend that amount on them if you were going out for dinner with them? If the answer is no, you know not to invite them as full day guests.
I really hope this helps give you some guidance and ideas around your wedding budget and how you are going to get to have the wedding of your dreams. Whatever you end up spending on your wedding, the worst result would be to start your married life in debt and unable to live your new marital life in financial security. Make sure you don’t spend to the extent that you have nothing left to enjoy at the end of your planning. Always plan the wedding you can afford.
Oh and of course if you would like any more help with your wedding budget, or being that level-headed neutral party to sense check just give me a shout! firstname.lastname@example.org or 07950370588.