They asked, and you said yes! How exciting! The future with your significant other is filled with happiness, working towards achieving dreams together, and now, your dream wedding. You’ve Pinned, read through, and liked images showcasing beautiful flowers and candles, dreamy dresses, and those must have photos you want taken. Your wedding fantasies are about to be made a reality, but it all comes crashing down because of one factor:
It is without a doubt the biggest stressor brides and grooms experience throughout the planning process, made worse by remarks from family and friends on how much your may or may not be spending, large payments due at different intervals, and then the fear of not knowing what exactly it is that you’re getting for your money, or second-guessing your investment choices.
As a wedding planner, I’m often in charge of the budgets of my clients, and making sure not only we keep track of what is being spent, but making sure income is managed. I want to share with y’all a few tips I’ve learned along the way in establishing your wedding budget and sticking to it.
First and foremost, determine what is important to you for your wedding. Sit down with your partner, and put it into writing what is important, whether it's the venue versus the date, a certain photographer or the actual style of photography, food, entertainment, invitations. Prioritize where you want the money invested from your wedding, and then get accurate quotes from those vendors. If you can’t get your hands on a concrete number, ask for a ballpark amount, and budget towards the higher end of that ballpark.
Determine who is funding what. This is a must have conversation with both parents or anyone who has said they would like to contribute to the wedding. It is best to be frank, and to write down exact amounts that are being contributed; trust me when I say that making sure you keep everyone accountable for everything they commit to in the long run will be better for not only the relationships you have with these folks, but also in regards to stress on you. Share with them what you have already collected from your research earlier, and be honest as to what costs are going to be for those vendors.
Now that there is an understanding of what the important aspects of your wedding are going to cost, divide and conquer the rest of the budget with other costs. This is where an Excel sheet is key! You can also keep track in your wedding binder, or have your wedding planner keep track of your budget for you. Set up your sheet with Vendor Name, Point of Contact, Contact Number, Email, Quote, Quote Date, Invoiced, and Invoice Date. I would also include when payments have been applied and when payments are due (and making sure your phone, planner, or agenda have it noted when these payments are due in order to avoid contract cancellations). You can also set up these spreadsheets to automatically deduct from the budget or the amount that your contributors are giving.
Another thing to do is make sure to either round up the total cost or entail the exact cost in this spreadsheet. You can scan your receipts and invoices and add them to the sheet, or keep them in an envelope in your wedding binder, highlighting what the total cost of that vendor will be. In my personal budgeting, I always round up my expenses versus my income, and then subtract from my exact income.
Lastly, stick to your budget. I like to think of it this way: when you go for a night out with your friends and you're getting dressed, you're making a commitment to the shoes you're wearing, right? In the middle of the night, you're not going to take off your shoes because doing so will probably result in dirty and cut up feet and you might lose your shoes. It's ok to splurge here and there on items and services throughout the planning process, but know that those costs do add up, and can send you over your budget. Ensure that those vendors and items your prioritized at the beginning are well and taken care of, and then feel free to splurge or shift focus in different areas.
Talking about money can be uncomfortable and awkward, especially if there is a feeling of obligation to appease folks who are contributing towards your wedding when what they want or say doesn’t coincide with what you’re working towards. But presenting the vision and facts at the very beginning, and saying that is what you both want as a couple, will again lend itself in those situations. The way that this kind of budgeting works, of being upfront from the beginning, keeping records of your spending up to date, and holding onto what is important to you and your future spouse at the forefront of your mind, will go a long way in making sure you get what you want out of your day and that you get the wedding of your dreams (and keep down the stress of planning it).