Wedding: Setting A Budget For Your Wedding

Before you jump in headfirst in planning your wedding, sit down with your partner and discuss your wedding budget.

Ask any woman who has been proposed to when she starting planning the wedding and she will probably admit that within the first week she was calling caterers. Myself? I practically left my fiancé out on the balcony where he had just proposed to run inside and start looking up the different photographers in our area. Before you start making appointments to look at different venues and before you start attending various cake tasting parties to determine who will make your three-tiered wedding cake, take a breath, sit down with your partner and a pen and paper and discuss your budget. While it is not the most romantic thing to do, it is necessary so you and your partner do not start married life with five maxed out credit cards.

First and foremost, you need to discuss who will be paying for the wedding. It was not long ago when the father of the bride took the entire financial burden of the wedding, but nowadays more couples are deciding that they would like to finance their own wedding, with little to no financial help from parents and grandparents. If, indeed, your parents have asked to help with the funding, you may want to include them in your budget meetings or determine what amount they will be giving you so you can include this in your budget. If you will be paying for the wedding on your own, determine how much money you can each contribute from savings and how much you can each realistically save before the wedding to help fund it. At this point, you may want to open an account devoted entirely to the wedding and deposit your money in that.

In the United States, couples spend an average of $10,000 to $18,000 funding a wedding. If your budget is not even in this range, do not panic. This is just an estimate of what couples spend, and you can find tons of ways to cut costs and still have a beautiful and unforgettable wedding. Once you have a ballpark figure of how much you will be spending on your wedding, you may want to create a budget spreadsheet. On each line, write out the different areas where you will be spending your money. For example, you will want to include venue, caterer, wedding coordinator (if you plan on having one), florist, baker (for wedding cake), photographer, car service (if you will be renting a luxury car or limousine), music (band or DJ service), wedding gown and tuxedo rental and invitations. You may also want to include a miscellaneous line to include those odds and ends you may have overlooked (wedding favors or decorations). Most couples will spend the majority of their budget on three things: the venue, the caterer and the photographer. Allot a percentage of money you are willing to spend for each particular item. For example, you and your partner may decide that the venue and photographer are your highest priorities, so you will probably establish a high percentage of the budget for these two things. Next to the percentage, write out approximately how much that amounts to in terms of your own budget. For instance, if you allotted 50% of the budget to go to the venue site and you have a budget of $15,000, then you will want to write $7,500 next to the percentage for the venue.

Once you have created this preliminary budget, now you can start researching different vendors. Remember, this is only a preliminary budget which can be adjusted. For example, when we started looking for photographers, we thought we could find one for under $1,000 based on what our friends from our hometowns had told us. Little did we realize that our city had a higher cost of living, thus a higher cost for everything. We could not find a photographer for under $2,000, so we had to readjust our entire budget to account for the extra money. So, if you find out that something will cost more than anticipated, you can simply go through your budget and start cutting costs or redistributing your money. Once you have your budget set, you will have a pretty good idea how much room you will need to negotiate and it can help you from getting in over your head.

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