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How to Set A Realistic Wedding Budget


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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