What’s your wedding budget? Please don’t say “my budget is the smallest amount of money I can possibly spend.” 😆
It always sort of throws me when people decide their budget before doing some research into what weddings actually cost in their market. There’s no arguing that you cannot set an accurate budget before doing some research.
I’m going to map out for you the 7 steps you must take before you set your wedding budget. These steps will determine what you actually budget. I don’t want you to spend more or less than what you really want. What I want is for you to allocate your money the right way, and towards the services and items you really want.
7 Steps to Your Wedding Budget
1. Pick the Top Five
First, I want you to decide what your top 5 hires are for your wedding. That should always include the venue and the photographer. But the other 3 hires will depend on you and your fiance. Some couples must have a certain officiant, or florist, or caterer. You decide who or what is the most important hire for your day. To be clear, you are not choosing who you are hiring, just the categories of professionals that are most important to you.
2. Research the Top Five
Once you choose those 5, do a little research on what they cost. You haven’t picked a budget yet, you are simply looking around.
Get a price from your very favorite professional from each of your 5 categories. Don’t worry too much about whether they are available or an exact package right now, just get an idea of the cost, a range.
Next get another price for a professional that is sort of a middle of the road type of professional, one you respect, but maybe not the one you absolutely love.
You also need to get a price on a discounted venue or professional. Maybe you’d never go with the company, but still you should know the price.
It’s like sunglasses, there’s a pair at Krewe that you love for $350, but you can live with a similar pair at Loft for $30, and if you’re really in a pinch you can grab a $5 pair from the French Market. All three do the same job (block the sun), but the style and quality is very different. Just like with your shades, you should know the price and differences in the market for your top 5 wedding hires. Knowing what is out there will help you put an appropriate value on the venue you choose and professionals you hire.
A little tip here, be upfront when you are trying to get these prices. A simple email saying, hey I’m trying to settle on a budget and I saw your service/venue, can you give me an idea on the costs of your packages?
Get a Total
Now total up what all those top 5 would cost if you went with the high price, the middle of the road, and the low price option. So you should have 3 numbers here.
3. List All the Other Services
The third step is to make a list of all the other services and products you want for your wedding, but wouldn’t consider in your top 5. Do a quick google search to get an estimate on how much these items cost. Don’t reinvent the wheel here, there are lots of lists of who you should hire for your wedding, and you can check out one of those as a reference.
Add up those totals too.
4. Look at how much money you have.
Now that you have an idea of what your wedding would cost, take a look at how much money you actually have to spend on it. You might be facing some disappointment. Brace yourself for that. You aren’t alone, most people have no idea what weddings cost. The price tags on many of the items and services you really wanted may be much higher then you expected. That’s why its so awesome that you are following these steps and setting your budget before booking anything!
Believe me, the disappointment won’t last long, as you readjust your expectations, you’ll still feel that you are planning a wedding you’ll love. And you won’t have buyer’s remorse on your honeymoon! Amen!!!
When you are coming up with this number, include your own contributions and any contributions from family, your fiancé’s family. Consider if you want to try to find money from other sources like a savings account or a side hustle. Side note if you are wondering who pays for what, subscribe because we are about to release a blog that covers exactly that, check back in a few weeks!
According to the 2019 Wedding Wire Report, 42% of couples dip into their savings, 30% find ways to make some extra cash, and though I absolutely do NOT recommend this, 20% incur credit card debt to cover their wedding.
5. Estimate VS Budget
Take a look at what you have to spend and compare it to the cost estimates you came up with in steps one and two. Use that budget number to decide whether you are going for favorite, middle of the road or discount for your top 5.
Review that second list of vendors and start eliminating anything that you feel like you can live without, considering your actual budget. Many times its better to eliminate something altogether rather than try to make it happen without the budget. Skip the headache and hassle of low balling a vendor or trying to get something for nothing, and just skip it. If it isn’t worth the cost, maybe it just isn’t’ worth hiring.
7. Build-in Some Cushion
Build-in cushion, not for going over budget on these items, but for all the extras. Think about the month of expenses, gifts, tips, etc. Consider favors, specialty items, last-minute add-ons. All those things add up!
YOU DID IT!
If you made it through those 7 steps, you are now ready to schedule site visits and actually book a venue. Now you know what you want to spend in total, and what your most important buys actually are. If you do it this way, you are absolutely ready to book your venue! No regrets!