How to Set A Realistic Wedding Budget

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Wed­dings are excit­ing and beau­ti­ful and the biggest event in any cou­ples life. But behind all the frills and fun is the dread­ed B‑word. No, I’m not talk­ing about Bridezil­la. I’m talk­ing about the Bud­get.

Every deci­sion you make dur­ing wed­ding can make or break your bud­get. There are things you need to con­sid­er that you would have nev­er thought of and, wow, who knew venues were so darn expen­sive.

So before you make a sin­gle deci­sion for your wed­ding, you need to decide what you can real­is­ti­cal­ly afford. Real­is­ti­cal­ly being the key word here. There are quite a hand­ful of cou­ples that com­plete­ly blow their bud­get out of the water, but there are also cou­ples who man­age to plan their entire wed­ding for a few thou­sand dol­lars. You have to know what is best for you.

Here are some basic steps to take when build­ing your wed­ding bud­get.

wedding rings

1. Discuss Your Budget

Don’t just decide on a num­ber that sounds good to you. Dis­cuss your bud­get with every con­trib­u­tor. Whether that is just you and your fiancé, or you and your par­ents, or whomev­er. Take a hard look at your finances and see what you can rea­son­ably afford to spend on your wed­ding with­out drain­ing your sav­ings or max­ing out five cred­it cards. You do not want to start your mar­riage in debt. If you are hav­ing help from your par­ents, take what­ev­er num­ber they give you with a smile. You are not here to bleed your father dry.

2. Do Your Research

Don’t go into your plan­ning blind­ly. Do as much research as human­ly pos­si­ble before mak­ing any deci­sions. Write down every­thing you are going to have to spend mon­ey on and then start look­ing at venues and oth­er ven­dors in your area to get esti­mates. Get costs from sev­er­al dif­fer­ent sources to find a rea­son­able aver­age.

3. Prioritize

More than like­ly you can’t afford the best of the best for every sin­gle thing on your list. I mean, who knows, maybe you’re inde­pen­dent­ly wealthy and have a bud­get of cool mil­lion, but prob­a­bly not. With so many things to con­sid­er and things that require a big­ger check than oth­ers, every pen­ny counts when set­ting your bud­get. To get it under con­trol, pri­or­i­tize your list from the start. Make note of things you know you want to go all out for.

Venues and pho­tog­ra­phers, for exam­ple, are things that peo­ple often expect to spend a good chunk of change on. If you’ve been dream­ing of get­ting mar­ried at that one absolute­ly gor­geous space in your town since you were a kid, you want to make sure you put that in your bud­get first and then fit every­thing around that. It’s kind of like a big game of price Tetris.

bride and groom in blue suit during wedding recessional

So once you set your bud­get, stick­ing to it is an entire­ly dif­fer­ent mat­ter. Here are some addi­tion­al tips on how to stick to your bud­get and not be sur­prised when all those bills start show­ing up.

1. Complete Cost Lists

When you start meet­ing with ven­dors, make sure you get a com­plete list of their fees from every one of them. Make note of what they charge extra for and what is includ­ed in their pack­ages. You don’t want to be caught unawares. How­ev­er, these things do hap­pen and you should set aside a por­tion of your bud­get just for mis­cel­la­neous things that pop up.

Think of it like those home remod­el­ing shows on TV. In every sin­gle episode the cou­ple tells the hosts what their bud­get is and in every sin­gle episode dis­as­ter strikes. Then the cou­ple is left with the choice of spend­ing a lot more mon­ey or cut­ting some­thing from their list of pri­or­i­ties. Don’t let this hap­pen to your wed­ding.

For oth­er things that you han­dle your­selves, make sure you con­sid­er every part that might have to pay for. Your dress bud­get might be $1500, but you don’t want to spend that all on the dress and for­get about the shoes, veil, and every­thing else. Postage costs also some­thing that gets for­got­ten. Unless your invi­ta­tions are fair­ly sim­ple and weight­less, then there’s a good chance your run-of-the-mill stamp isn’t going to cut it.

2. Minimize Costs

Weigh your options and then choose the ones that are most cost effec­tive. Rent­ing vs. buy­ing cer­tain things. Like rent­ing a tux is often more cost effec­tive than buy­ing, but buy­ing table linens off Ama­zon and reselling them after is often more eco­nom­i­cal than rent­ing. Dis­cuss bud­get with your ven­dors, as well. They can usu­al­ly give you options to get the most bang for your buck.

Keep sea­sons in mind, too. Choose flow­ers that are in sea­son and abun­dant. Or pick a date when your venue’s fees will be low­er. Don’t think you have to have a low-qual­i­ty wed­ding just because you are on a tight bud­get. There is always a way to min­i­mize costs.

3. Make Cuts

If your bud­get is start­ing to get out of hand, it’s time to make some tough deci­sions. You may need to go with a cheap­er venue, dress, or what have you. Or you may have to take an even more dras­tic step and make cuts to your guest list or push back your wed­ding date to give your­self more time to save. These types of deci­sions might be painful, but they will save you stress lat­er on.

4. Track Your Spending

Record every­thing. Make a spread­sheet and keep track of every sin­gle pay­ment. For big things like venue, pho­tog­ra­ph­er, florist, etc., you often have to pay a deposit and then the final bal­ance when you get clos­er to your wed­ding. Make sure there’s a space for every­thing you pay up front and every­thing that is still left. For things that you order online, don’t just put the cost of the item, include the ship­ping amount. Every lit­tle thing counts when it comes to your total.

closeup of  bride's fall bouquet

Whether your bud­get is large or small, it is still an incred­i­bly impor­tant aspect of your wed­ding that has to care­ful­ly be mon­i­tored. Don’t shy away from a bud­get con­ver­sa­tion with your fiancé and par­ents (if applic­a­ble), no mat­ter how awk­ward you feel about it. This is one of the first big deci­sions to make and it is a doozy.

There are so many small details that go into cre­at­ing your dream wed­ding, but that does­n’t mean you should have to stress. Gen­er­a­tion Tux lets you sam­ple your cloth­ing before the big day, in the com­fort of your liv­ing room. See what we have to offer to make your union extra­or­di­nary.

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