The first step in wedding planning is determining wedding expenses and creating a budget. Mindy Weiss, a wedding planner, explains how to set a wedding budget.
Overview of the Wedding Budget
A wedding budget serves as the starting point for wedding planning. The budget functions as an evolving spreadsheet of all wedding costs, allowing you to budget for a dollar amount for each line item.
Before you start planning your wedding, figure out how much money you and your partner (or, in some cases, the couple's parents) can spend on the wedding festivities. Then, divide your wedding budget into subcategories, which should include everything from food and entertainment to centerpieces and gratuities.
6 Factors Influencing Wedding Costs
Every wedding is unique: some are DIY or held in a backyard, while others are held in ornate banquet halls. When wedding styles vary so widely, estimating an average cost can be difficult. When planning a wedding, the following common factors can have an impact on the overall budget:
1. The guest list: The number of wedding guests you invite will have a significant impact on the overall cost. Understand that most venues charge by the head, so the number of guests will influence the total cost of your dream wedding.
2. Decorations: Wedding costs include table linens, centerpieces, wedding favors, furniture rentals, bouquets, boutonnieres, and other decorative flourishes.
3. Entertainment: Some couples prefer a live band, while others hire a DJ. Consider any travel or meal expenses incurred by musicians and performers.
4. Time of year: Certain seasons are more expensive than others. Spring, summer, and fall are generally more expensive seasons than winter (assuming a climate that follows the traditional seasons). As a result, a winter wedding can be a cost-effective option for a couple.
5. Wedding venue: Wedding venues frequently consume a large portion of the wedding budget. Some wedding venue fees include the food, drinks, and staffing at your wedding reception, as well as an on-site wedding planner.
6. Wedding attire: Wedding attire and tailoring services for the wedding couple can be costly. To save money, consider borrowing or renting clothing and accessories.
Budget Breakdown for a Wedding
Allocating portions of your wedding budget will help ensure that you have enough money for your absolute must-haves. "Then you have some left over to pay for your attire or your invitations or whatever else is on your wishlist," expert wedding planner Mindy Weiss says. It all boils down to how you divide that pie." Use this breakdown to create a wedding budget checklist and determine costs when planning your own wedding:
Wedding flowers and décor (20%): Flowers, centerpieces, and other decorations should be budgeted for. Instead of paying florists or decorators, wedding parties may handle this process as a gift to the newlyweds.
Wedding food and beverage (20%): This cost includes all food and drink you will provide, such as the open bar, wedding cake, meals, and any potential rehearsal dinner and next-day brunch.
Wedding venue (20%): Your wedding venue fee may be comparable to what you pay for food and beverage, or it may constitute the majority of your cost.
Wedding rings and attire (15%): Following the venue, wedding dresses and outfits, as well as your engagement ring and wedding bands, will constitute the second largest portion of your budget.
Wedding photography and videography (10%): Wedding photographers and videographers typically account for one-tenth of your total budget.
Wedding entertainment (10%): A wedding band, string quartet, or DJ (for the reception and potential afterparty) will keep your guests entertained on the dance floor at your reception venue.
Wedding stationery and favors (5% of total): Wedding invitations, save-the-dates, RSVP sites, wedding ceremony programs, and evening favors consume a smaller portion of the wedding budget.
8 Wedding Budgeting Tips by Mindy Weiss
Mindy Weiss, an expert wedding planner with over thirty years of experience, shares her tips for setting your wedding budget to ease what can be an otherwise stressful and involved process:
1. Begin planning your budget early. You're better off deciding right away how much you can afford to spend, as this will influence how many guests you invite, the type of venue you choose, and how much you'll spend on wedding vendors. "It's critical to figure out what your budget is early on in the process so you're not disappointed when you see the bottom line of your budget," Mindy says. "Be practical. Begin with the most expensive items and work your way down."
2. Make a deal with contributors. If you accept money from loved ones for the wedding, be aware of any strings that may be attached. "Compromise, compromise, compromise," says Mindy. "Pick your battles. Remember that when you accept funds, you are also accepting advice and opinions."
3. Talk about money with both families. It can be difficult to discuss money with family members. "My best advice, if at all possible, is to get the families together," Mindy says. "Get all of this uncomfortable stuff out of the way so you can march down the aisle knowing that this is a team effort and that everyone is happy with the decision."
4. Open a new checking account. Opening a new checking or savings account, as well as a new credit card, can help you track your spending and stay on track. "I frequently advise my couples to open a separate checking or savings account for [their] wedding," Mindy says. "This makes it easier to keep track of what you're spending. It's fun to see it grow—but not so much fun to see it leave—when you get a little extra money throughout the year to put towards it."
5. Make an emergency plan. Make room in your budget for last-minute expenses. "You should try to set aside 3% of your budget for emergencies," Mindy advises. "It's always the little things that come up."
6. Show gratitude. Be grateful for any financial assistance you receive. "Please be grateful once you've decided on your budget and received the funds," Mindy says. "During the wedding, when you're giving your thank-you speech... publicly thanking those who have helped you create your dream... it goes so far."
7. Keep track of all transactions. Record all transactions as soon as possible to keep track of the dollar amount of payments. Organize receipts using a spreadsheet or template so that everything is easily accessible. Mindy, for one, suggests keeping a wedding binder to organize contracts and payments. "Make sure to stay organized," Mindy advises. "Put all of your contracts in a binder. It makes it a lot easier to flip through and see what you signed."
8. Make use of a wedding budget planner. There are resources available online to assist in calculating potential wedding costs. "All you have to do is fill out your wedding details, such as the date, the venue zip code, the number of guests, and so on," Mindy says. "And the site will calculate estimated costs for you at no charge. Whether you have the details planned or not, this is a great way to start to get an idea of what your wedding budget will be. This allows you to assess your priorities and make necessary adjustments before proceeding."