I am just going to put this out in the open since I know you’re totally going to be thinking it as you read my posts: I am type A to a fault. Planning spreadsheets (don’t be afraid of them!) are my best friends. I started putting together a preliminary wedding budget spreadsheet literally the day after Tony proposed, and I’m super glad that I did. This process is extremely important, as it helps you figure out how much of your total budget to allocate to each of your expenses. It will also help you determine how many vendors you can realistically afford. Another thing to realize when planning a wedding, is that you are going to have to make some sacrifices in some areas to fulfill your “must haves” in others. If you think you will be getting engaged soon, I also recommend that you have some cash saved before you book vendors; most require at least a 20% non-refundable deposit to secure your date. Feeling a bit overwhelmed? Don’t worry! Follow my steps below to make planning a wedding on a budget a breeze.
Photo courtesy of Kate Bentley Photo
Planning a wedding on a budget.1. Figure out your top-line budget after getting engaged. Your top-line budget is how much money you will have to spend on your wedding in total. Wedding funds can come from many different places, but try to never directly ask for money. It could come off as rude and get rather awkward. It could be that your parents, your fiancé’s parents, or maybe even your extended family have assumed that you would be getting engaged, so they may already have an idea of how much they can financially commit. When you talk about your wedding with those you think may help, mention your top-line budget and the average costs you’ve been finding. If they are planning on contributing, they will let you know. If you aren’t receiving financial support from those you love, try your best to not let this negatively affect your relationship with them. Simply say something along the lines of, “I understand, and I know that you will be there to support me in other ways.” Take a hard look at your own personal budget. Even if you can commit to saving $200-$300/month for the duration of your engagement, that amount could add up to thousands! This last-minute saving could help you serve your guests free drinks all night long!
2. Determine how much to allocate to each of your expense buckets. Above is an image of the wedding budget spreadsheet I created in Xcel. I suggest creating a wedding budget spreadsheet if you’re looking for an overview of your expenses and a breakdown of your total budget. In the first column are my “expense buckets,” the second column contains each bucket’s budget, and the breakdown of percentages is in the far right column. You should note that a spreadsheet like this is just a guide and that there are other factors you may want to consider. (Do your guests like to drink? Do you really need those fancy appetizers if you’re serving dinner in an hour anyway?) If certain aspects of your wedding are more important to you than others, simply alter your percentages to fit your needs. 3. Start researching early when planning a wedding. Personal recommendations are the bomb for finding wedding vendors. If you find someone who you know you’ll be happy with (like I did when I chose Kate Bentley to be my photographer!) ask what other vendors he/she would recommend. Spend time on wedding blogs (like My Wedding Chat!), and find out if there is a professional group of recommended vendors in your area (check out the Wedding Shoppe’s Vendor Locator). After you have a list of possible vendors, reach out to them to find out if they have your date available and what they charge.
4. Track all money you spend with your wedding budget spreadsheet. Above is an image of my spending tracker I created in Xcel. When planning a wedding, you should track your final expenses in each category. If you under-spend in some areas, you can either decide to save that money or splurge on something special!