The Wedding Budget
As I mentioned in my last post on planning tips for newly engaged couples, a key area to consider as you start wedding planning is the budget. How much money can you afford to spend and how much do you want to spend on your wedding? How can you keep track of your expenditure and stop your budget from spiralling out of control?
The answer, as always, comes in the form of organisation!
Do your research
Asking how much a wedding costs is similar to questioning how long a piece of string is. It really does depend on a number of factors, including the style, location and date of the wedding. Once you’ve established these logistics, you can start looking into the different costs in each area. Disregard the average prices magazines give you and concentrate on researching suppliers in your chosen location to build your own list of prices. By researching these costs you will then have a realistic idea of what you can get for your money.
What’s your wedding going to cost?
Having done your research you will now have some guide prices to work towards and you can start thinking about how much you want to spend. This is when prioritising the most important elements of your wedding becomes crucial, as you may want to allocate more money to certain areas and source them early.
As a rough guide, I would designate 40-50% of your budget for your reception (including the venue, food and drink costs), leaving the rest of your budget to cover everything else. Be aware that just because something’s important to you, it doesn’t necessarily mean you need to spend more on it, so much as it’s something you won’t want to compromise on.
Will both you and your fiancé be covering the cost of your wedding? Be realistic, look at your finances and work out how much you can afford. The start of married life is not the time to be getting into debt. Will you need to start saving or do you already have a pot put aside?
Are there any family members who want to help? If so it’s worth talking to them early on to establish what they’re expecting in return: is it a no obligation gift or are they going to want a large say in what the money is being spent on?
It’s always a good idea to use gifted money for a particular area of the wedding (such as the flowers or drinks) and give them some input into that particular element. If you feel it’s going to compromise the kind of wedding you want then consider declining their generosity.
One of the first things I do for my clients is set up a budget spreadsheet where I list everything needed for the wedding, especially the little things like postage for invitations, alteration costs for dresses, accessories and so on, and allocate the estimated spend. I also add a column for the actual spend – you can then compare the two columns and reallocate funds within your budget if necessary to keep to your target.
Give Yourself A Contingency Budget
Inevitably things may end up costing more than you thought or something might come up that you hadn’t budgeted for, so always cost in a contingency budget. Have a figure you’d like to spend and then another figure that if really pushed you could stretch to. General wisdom states that your contingency fund should be 20% of your budget.
Finally, whatever your budget is there will always be areas where, with a little time and some creativity, you can make great savings. We’ll be looking at that in a later post in this series so don’t worry if you’re feeling the financial strain, I might just have some money-saving tips for you!