Wedding Budget

The Basics of Creating a Wedding Budget

The moment you announce that you’re engaged, everyone you know (and their uncle, and their mother) will have opinions for you on what you should do. Before getting inundated with those, take some time alone; sit down with your future spouse and talk about what you envision your wedding being. Set clear expectations about who will be involved with making decisions and who will handle which tasks in the planning process. Here is a brief checklist you should be able to fill out before looking at dollar amounts:

What kind of event do you imagine your wedding to be?

  • Formal
  • Relaxed
  • Intimate
  • Large
  • Festive
  • Casual
  • Traditional
  • Elegant
  • Non-traditional
  • Themed
  • Ethnic
  • Religious

How many people would you like to invite?

  • Less than 50
  • 51 to 100
  • 101 to 200
  • More than 200

What time of year or season would you like to have your wedding in?

  • Spring
  • Summer
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Specific Month _________________________________

Don’t even worry about things like what colors you imagine the backdrop being and what the centerpieces should look like until you’ve got some parameters set. After you’ve filled out this checklist, the next thing you need to do is find out who is contributing.

  • What are the two of you able to contribute toward the wedding?
  • Are either of your parents (as a set or individually, depending on their marital status) able to contribute toward the overall budget? If yes, in what way: as a specific amount or by paying for a particular element of the wedding?
  • Is there anyone else who is planning to contribute or is able to contribute?

You should, at this time, have a solid idea of what your wedding budget amount is, and what you’re looking at spending it on. These are the absolute foundations for a wedding budget!

Saving on Your Wedding Catering

Wedding CateringOne of the most expensive parts of your wedding will be paying the caterer, and this is particularly true if you’re having a large wedding. Other than the cost of your reception venue, your next largest expense will be feeding all of your guests. For each wedding guest you invite, you’ll need to have appetizers, a main course, and usually an evening snack; not to mention a slice of wedding cake for each person. All of those expenses can add up really quickly, especially if you let your guests run wild with the amount that they eat. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to control the cost of your wedding catering and keep room in your budget for other items.

Cocktail Hour

Typically, most couples will offer some type of small appetizer during what is known as “cocktail hour”. This is the time between when guests arrive at the reception hall and when the main dinner is served. Usually the guests will mingle, sip on cocktails, and congratulate the happy couple. Additionally, there are appetizers going around curbing the appetite of hungry guests.

To save money during cocktail hour, it’s a good idea to have the appetizers passed around from person to person on a tray or to have a server carrying them around to each group of people. If you just leave them on a table for your guests to have free reign, you’ll notice that a small handful of your guests will devour the whole tray in record time. By avoiding this, you can save a ton of money on your wedding catering. Additionally, not having an open bar or only serving beer for free can help you save money during cocktail hour, but that really isn’t considered part of your catering expenses.

Dinner

One of the easiest ways to save money on dinner service at your wedding is to choose an inexpensive dish that is very filling for your guests. By far the best choice for this is pasta because it is usually the least expensive option, everyone will love it, and it will fill the guests up with a single serving. It’s a good idea to offer at least two pasta choices to your guests such as spaghetti and fettuccini so that everyone can have a choice that they enjoy.

Also, though it may seem cheaper to do a buffet style dinner to avoid the cost of servers, having a plated dinner is usually much less expensive in the long run. It’s cheaper to pay a server $25 to deliver plates to a table than it is to have Uncle Joe eat 12 plates of food from the buffet line, so take that into consideration when you are crunching the numbers for your catering budget.

Side Dishes

Side dishes can quickly add up at a wedding, so try to avoid them at all cost. For instance, if you’re having a pasta dish, try to limit your sides to only salad and bread. Every additional food item you offer to your wedding guests will add to your catering expenses, so just keep them to a minimum.

Evening Snack

The cheapest way to thwart the expense of an evening snack for your guests is to time your dinner out so you don’t need on at all. If you space out your dinner and your wedding cake service, you can easily get away without having an evening snack at all. Also, you can put some candy or cookies at each table as a wedding favor which will also alleviate the need for any type of late night munchies.

Wedding Cake

Wedding cakes are so labor-intensive and decorative these days that they are usually one of the more expensive parts of your catering costs. To keep your budget in check, you should opt to buy a very small decorative wedding cake for the cake cutting ceremony and for your wedding party to eat. For the rest of the guests, you can slice up some sheet cakes that are just as delicious but much less expensive because they aren’t decorated like the actual wedding cake. This is particularly budget-friendly if you’re having a large wedding with a lot of guests.

Prepping for Meetings With Your Wedding Vendors

Wedding Vendor MeetingsIf you’ve already started planning your wedding, you’ve probably realized that you need to deal with a seemingly never-ending parade of wedding vendors in order to organize everything you need for your big day. Everything from your flowers shop to your caterers will have a liaison that you need to deal with personally, and the number of meeting you need to schedule and attend just to get everything finalized can seem very overwhelming. Fortunately, prepping for meetings with your wedding vendors can be a fun and relaxing experience if you know what to expect and what to ask. Below you will find some things to be prepared for before you go to your meetings so you can get every detail right without pulling out your hair or going gray.

Know Budget and Priorities

Before you schedule any meetings with your wedding vendors, you need to know your exact budget. This will help you figure out which vendors can take priority financially over others so you can negotiate the best prices. For instance, if your really want your reception dinner to be delicious, you can set aside more budget room for the caterers. If you really like the taste of a fine wine, you can make you alcohol budget a little larger and cut back on something else. Your wedding budget priorities are a personal choice and completely up to you as a couple, but you want to make sure you have the details worked out before you go to your meetings with your wedding vendors.

Shop Around

Before you schedule and vendor meetings, you should get an idea of their prices and shop around with their competitors. The cost of a specific wedding service can vary from vendor to vendor, so shopping around can end up saving you a big chunk of money. Also, don’t be afraid to use a vendor’s competition as leverage to try to get a better deal. Mentioning that their competition offered you a better price can sometimes get them to beat their price or offer you a more inclusive package. Doing your negotiating with multiple prospective vendors instead of price shopping in advance will add unnecessary time and stress to the planning process, so try your best to get this taken care of before you go to your vendor meetings.

Be Detail Oriented

Focusing on the details can not only ensure you find the perfect vendors for your wedding, but it can also ensure that you get the most or your money. Make sure you talk in depth with each of your vendors to make sure that you know exactly what services they will provide you and how much it will cost. The last thing you want is to be expecting something on your wedding day that isn’t delivered because it was never part of the original agreement. The best thing to do with your wedding vendors is to put everything in writing so both side know exactly what to expect when your big day arrives.

How to Budget for Your Wedding

Wedding BudgetYour wedding is likely going to be one of the most expensive purchases you make other than a house or possibly a new car, so making sure you get the budgeting right is very important to making sure you have a successful celebration. When you sit down with your pen and paper to crunch the numbers, it can be difficult to know what you should plan to spend for each element of the wedding. Most people only plan one wedding in their life, so you probably won’t have to much experience with the costs of wedding items. Fortunately, there are some tips that can help with how to budget for your wedding so you know what to set aside and who is in charge of what expenses.

Organization

Organization is one of the most important elements to successfully getting your wedding budget pulled together. Most people feel like budgeting will be difficult if they don’t have math skills, but fortunately there are many spreadsheet programs that will take care of crunching the totals for you. As long as you sit down and create a very organized list, you can just plug in the numbers and let the software take care of the rest. You may need to adjust your numbers a few times to get the bottom line to add up to something you can afford, but all it takes is some diligence and organization to make sure everything works out in the end.

Monitor Expensive Items

The best way to make sure everything fits within your budget is to watch the costs on your most expensive items. Things like the venue, reception hall, and your wedding dress are typically the most expensive parts of the wedding, so trying to reduce the costs on these major components will leave more money for the extra things. It can be really stressful to try to pay for all the little things after you’ve committed to paying for some of the more expensive elements, so keeping these under wraps will eliminate stress down the road.

Who Pays for What?

Most people agree that your wedding expenses should be shared by both families, but it can be a little unclear as to who should pay for what. Traditionally, the father of the bride is supposed to pay for the ceremony and other major expenses, but this ideology is dated and no longer in general practice. Instead, many couples embrace the “FLOP” method of financing their wedding which means that the groom’s family pays for the flowers, liquor, orchestra, and photography, and the bride’s family pays for the rest. Though this isn’t an exact formula and everyone’s budgeting plan will be different, it is a great place to start so you can figure out how much you have to spend on your wedding before you start creating your budget.