Being one of the happiest days in your life, a wedding day is also one of the most energy- and money-intensive events. In the U.S. an average wedding for 135 guests costs around $26,500, according to the 2016 Brides American Wedding Study, which may have adverse effects on a young family budget. That's why planning a wedding budget in advance is so important.
Here are ten tips on how to plan the wedding budget and prepare a wedding of your dreams debt free:
COUNT YOUR MONEY
Your overall wedding budget depends on three factors: your savings and the savings of your fiancé, the sum you are able to set aside from your current income and any contributions your parents or loved ones are willing to give. Make sure your retirement funds remain untouched and you have enough savings to cover three months of living expenses (in case of emergency!) when you count your savings. Up to 10% of your current income should be set aside for the wedding right after you've made your monthly payments. Don't think that leftovers will be enough. Talk to your parents or other people involved about the amount they are ready to contribute to your wedding before planning the wedding budget.
CREATE A WEDDING BUDGET SPREADSHEET
Create a spreadsheet that has two main columns: ESTIMATED and ACTUAL. Include the amount you expect to pay for the wedding services in the ESTIMATED column. Before you put in those numbers, make sure to research the particular costs for each service in your area. Put the final amount you pay the vendors in the ACTUAL column.
The key points in a wedding budget spreadsheet should include attire, flowers, video and photo, stationery, gifts and favours, rings, bachelor and bachelorette parties, bride and groom look – attire-wise, the rehearsal dinner, ceremony, reception, honeymoon and any additional purchases. While working on the budget spreadsheet think about creating a wedding budget breakdown that shows what percentages of the budget you divide between catering, attire, flowers, music etc.
- 50 percent of an average wedding budget in the US is taken up by venue, catering, cake, and rentals;
- 12 percent is spent on photography and videography; 9 percent is wedding attire, hair, and beauty;
- 8 percent is flowers, lighting, and décor; a wedding planner and stationery take 3 percent each; ceremony music, transportation, rings, and gifts are 2 percent each. This budget breakdown should be a rough estimated – a guideline of sorts - and your final budget may be different.
MAKE SURE YOUR ALL EXTRAS EQUAL ABOUT 15 PERCENT OF YOUR TOTAL WEDDING BUDGET
There are always expenses you forget of or consider too small to care about. Invitation postage, parking valets, corkage and plating fees, cleanup and overtime rates - these are all unexpected expenses. Never spend your extras up front - you'll need it throughout the planning process as incidentals arise.
MAKE A SHOPPING LIST
When the estimated wedding budget is ready, make a wedding-related shopping list where you include all the things a bride and groom need to buy for the wedding as well as the estimated cost and the end date of the purchase. This way you will be sure to have everything in time. There are a great number of lists of things to buy for your wedding online.
CHOOSE A CONVENIENT VENUE
There are spaces like lofts or barns that seem to be money-saving but in reality they are not, needing extra investments to get the place up to par. Remember that you want your venue to be beautiful and convenient for the guests. If you have to bring in furniture, china, kitchen equipment - even a restroom and AC! - choosing another more convenient venue could be a better option. Before you pay for a venue, estimate the total price of a wedding at that space versus one that includes all the basics.
EDIT THE GUEST LIST
A good way to cut your wedding budget is to look at your guest list once more. Each guest costs far more than his or her meal when you consider the invitation, transportation, slice of cake, and favour or gift. Remember that this day is all about you and if there are guests you are not sure about, take them off the list. If you shorten your guest list by 15 people you will be able to save up to $1,300.
SAVE ON TRANSPORTATION
Another wedding budget-friendly idea is to host the ceremony and reception in the same place. It could save up to $4,000 on transportation for the wedding party and guests.
Hiring an out-of-town photographer or band? Check their contract to make sure you are not paying for a rental van or plane tickets for your vendors.
SAVE ON STATIONERY
There are several tips to save on stationery. Plan what you want to use for stationery at the start of your wedding budget planning process. Wedding stationery tends to be most expensive when it's a last-minute purchase. Buy or download a set of online PDF wedding invitations, customize and print them on your own at your local print shop. Don't print one invitation per person, use one invitation for a couple or a family. Hang up a large poster with the menu and program instead of a printing them individually for every guest. A great tip is to always proofread your invitations, save-the-dates, RSVP cards, information cards, and wedding programs. Besides, you are always welcome to DIY if you feel like it.
DON’T MENTION YOUR WEDDING WHILE SHOPPING FOR THE EVENT
Flowers, lighting, and décor labelled as wedding-related can cost up to 200 percent more than their everyday counterparts. Try to find things from your wedding shopping list in non-specific stores. For example, you could cut your wedding budget by making your own bouquet or even buying a beautiful gown that is not labelled as a bridal dress.
In order to meet your wedding budget, you should probably consider going off-peak. Choose unpopular days of the week like a Friday or a Sunday. Have a winter wedding or have a wedding brunch instead of hosting a four-course, wine-paired dinner.
Using all these tips you will help you plan and prepare your dream wedding debt free. If you feel that your wedding budget is too low, consider the possibility to prolong your engagement. Save more money in the meantime and take the much-needed time to negotiate with vendors and plan your perfect wedding down to a T.