Setting your Wedding Budget
Setting Your Wedding Budget
Getting married feels as though it’s supposed to be about the fairytale, the beauty, being swept away in the moment and the feelings of love that you have for your now fiancé(e). Unfortunately, with the average cost of a wedding in the United States reaching more than $25,000 real life concerns like affording your dream wedding quickly come crashing in and many couples find themselves feeling as though they have to sacrifice their dream simply because it’s too expensive to afford. Having a budget helps to establish what you have to pay for, how much you’re willing to pay, and where you can cut back. It is good to remember that overestimating is always better than underestimating. Never budget for fewer guests than you’ve invited, for example, always budget for a few more.
There are 11 main categories that should be covered when looking over your budget and a wide variety of checklists and spreadsheets available on the internet break these categories down. In general your categories should break down as follows:
Reception - 40% of your total budget
Attire - 10% of your total budget
Flowers/Decorations - 10% of your total budget
Music - 10% of your total budget
Photo/Video - 10% of your total budget
Favors/Gifts - 3% of your total budget
Ceremony - 2% of your total budget
Stationery - 2% of your total budget
Wedding Rings - 2% of your total budget
Transportation - 1% of your total budget
Miscellaneous/Buffer - 10% of your total budget
These numbers are variable, and you can certainly adjust them. For example, if you are planning a small, intimate ceremony and a larger reception, you may be able to put less into your ceremony budget and more into your attire budget. Be sure to research weddings in your area for accurate figures. Remember; never overspend in one area unless you have already underspent in another. Prioritize your budget so that you make sure you have money set aside for the areas that are most important to you. If your parents or someone else is helping you to cover the costs of your wedding, you'll want to sit down with them and discuss your plans so that they too are aware of where the money is going.
Don't be discouraged if it seems you cannot afford everything you want. While you may have to cut back in some ways, there are tips and tricks that can help lower your prices, save you money and help you afford more of what you want, like that more expensive dress or those cute little favors! Here are some ideas to help you save money as you plan your wedding. Remember, every penny you save can be put towards other categories or saved for your honeymoon or other financial dreams like a house!
1. Be polite with vendors but not overly accommodating. If something disappoints you, such as a double booking, or an option that’s not available, say so. The vendor may be willing to offer you a deal on something else. Being polite is critical, however. No one wants to help a bride or groom that is rude and demanding.
2. Borrow what you can instead of buying it. The old saying “Something borrowed…” isn’t far off. You can save money on anything you’re willing to borrow or rent, even your dress. If having your gown sit in a box for the rest of your marriage isn’t important to you then rent a dress. You’ll save a good chunk of change! Talk to friends and family to see what you can borrow, what they’re willing to lend and even what they’re willing to give for you to keep!
3. Negotiations are never wrong. Talk to your vendors, be willing to barter. Tell them upfront if their price is too high, and be sure you shop around so have you bargaining power.
4. Talk with your vendors, including your venue, and see who they recommend. Because the wedding business relies so much on referrals, many vendors offer discounts to couples who have been recommended by a fellow business and will refer other businesses as well.
5. Use your friends! If you have friends that are talented and want to include them in your wedding then do so. Let them sing during your ceremony, play instruments, or even officiate (if they are so inclined and your state allows). Just be sure you give them a gift to thank them for the time and effort. Even if you give them a monetary gift you’ll more than likely save.
6. Waiting for sales is another great tip. Lots of places offer sales on things like favors and wedding party gifts, even parts of your wardrobe can be purchased for less. Sign up for newsletters with stores you want, look for coupons and be ready to jump on deals when they appear.
7. Read every piece of each contract you get. Vendors can sometimes misquote you a price over the phone that isn’t in your contract. If you know what your contracts say then you’ll be able to argue your bill, politely, when these discrepancies come up. Be sure you discuss any upgrades such as chair covers or fancy linens beforehand so you know if they cost extra.
8. Sign up for reward points everywhere you can, but be cautious as to not put more on a credit card than you are able to pay off each billing cycle.
9. DIY everything you feel comfortable doing yourself. It could be just the programs and place cards, maybe it’s your invitations, but doing things yourself definitely saves money!
10. Consider talking to vendors about sponsoring parts of your wedding in exchange for advertising space such as business cards next to the cake, or tucked into the favors that will be given to each guest. While some will say no, others may very well say yes and cover the cost of a part of your wedding.
Saying no and learning how to manage your expectations can be hard, but with a little savvy spending and tricky thinking you can still have the wedding of your dreams.