Congratulations, you’re engaged! Now before the fun of planning the wedding starts, you’ll need to decide how much you can spend on the event. Whether you dream of a lavish ballroom affair or an intimate backyard fête, the first thing you’ll need to do is come up with a realistic budget to work from. You won’t want any regrets about your wedding, so you’ll need to figure out what you can and can’t afford before the bills arrive.
“Once couples have figured out how much they can comfortably afford in total, they then need to prioritize what is most important to them to determine what percentage of their total budget should be allocated to each element,” says San Francisco wedding planner Carrie Topoian. “From there, couples can build their wedding toward the budget they have predetermined.”
Carrie says some of the pitfalls in creating a wedding budget are that the couple may not realize how much each vendor will cost, whether there are any hidden fees at the venue, or they simply forget to build in tax and gratuity to their budget.
Couples can estimate to spend 50 percent of a budget on catering and venue. This includes food, beverages, staffing, taxes and tip. The ambiance portion of your budget—flowers, decorations and lighting—should only be 10 percent.
Another 10 percent should be set aside for music, and an additional 10 percent for photography. For favors and gifts, which include your attendants’ presents, stick to small items with a personal touch and don’t spend over 3 percent of the wedding’s total price tag. If the ceremony site is different from the rehearsal venue, set aside an additional 3 percent.
Invitations, save-the-date cards and programs should be priced at around 3 percent. And any transportation needed—will you arrive in a limo? Will guests need to be shuttled?—should cost around 1 percent of the total budget.
Dreaming of a designer dress? Carrie says most brides set aside 10 percent for wedding attire, but that includes the groom’s tuxedo too! Don’t forget to factor in the unexpected items like postage for the RSVP cards and marriage license fees, and avoid overtime—an extra hour on the dance floor can cost dearly.
Now that you have a budget you will want to stick with it. Put all your money you’ll be using for your wedding in one separate bank account, so you can keep track of the funds. If you’re paying for expenses with a credit card, find one with a low rate with mileage benefits that you can put toward your honeymoon airfare.
It is important to remember that every couple’s budget may vary depending on their vendor preferences and that each couple may have different priorities when it comes to their wedding. If you can stick to the budget, you can start your new life together without unexpected debt.
Photo by Union Photography