Creating a wedding budget is simultaneously one of the most important, stressful, and challenging aspects of a wedding. Lucky for us, we have a wedding planner to help us get organized. But even before our wedding planner was involved, we sat down and discussed our budget together and with our families. I thought it would be helpful, since talking about a budget is such a dull topic, to make this blog into a sort of handy list. So let’s dive into some things we considered in creating our budget for our wedding.
1. Talk to your family
First thing’s first, who is financing this wedding? Traditionally, the bride’s family funds the wedding entirely with the groom’s family covering the rehearsal dinner/Friday evening events. Now that we’re in 2015, this isn’t as much of a given as it used to be and nor should it be. Besides the obvious sexism ingrained in the bride’s family covering all the costs, it is just not realistic for a lot of families to finance a wedding anymore. Have you seen the cost of a caterer? For my fiance and I, we have decided to finance a majority of the wedding ourselves, but our families are kindly pitching in as well. Knowing what they can contribute from the beginning gave us a framework for our overall budget. A good way to approach this is to have conversations with both of your families separately and simply let them know that if they want to help financially, it’s much appreciated, but by no means should they feel obligated to do so.
2. No debt
By no means should anyone, ever, under any circumstances, go into debt to have a wedding. I mean, come on people. Weddings are getting out of hand as it is and you want to go in debt for one? Buy a house for Pete’s sake! Keep in mind that you are entering into a marriage and don’t lose sight of the overall meaning of a wedding. Also remember that no one is going to pay any attention to your centerpieces. At the end of the day all that matters is that you and your partner have declared your love and lifelong commitment to each other in front of all of your closest friends and family. Not to mention have the party of a lifetime afterwards. I don’t know about you, but I’ve thrown pretty great parties with some simple decorations and some good whiskey and ginger beer.
3. Number of guests
The reason we laid out our guestlist so early is that knowing if your wedding is going to be 200 people vs 100 people changes your budget entirely. It helps that both of our families are so small so that we can keep our wedding to a reasonable number. On average, 83% of guests accept your invitation to come to the wedding. Our wedding planner informed us that because we’re getting married in the Bay Area, ours will be a bit higher because it’s such a desireable place to visit so we are expecting about 90% to come. Don’t forget that you have to feed and hydrate all of these people and refer back to the previous post on creating a guestlist for more tips and ideas on who to invite.
4. Wedding weekend vs. Wedding day
Something that is becoming more popular with weddings is a wedding weekend, more of an entire wedding experience, vs a wedding day. This is significant when laying out one’s budget because obviously a wedding weekend will increase the overall cost of the wedding. For us, we are prioritizing a wedding weekend. We came to that conclusion because whenever we have gone to friends’ weddings we have hardly gotten to see the bride and groom! If we are going to drag all of our families and friends to the Bay Area, we want to make it worth their while by including a Sunday brunch and a welcome event on Friday evening. Keep in mind, these additional events don’t have to be fancy, but should be about welcoming everyone to the wedding and thanking them for taking the time out of their busy lives to come and see you and your better half tie the knot.
Lastly, what are your wedding priorities? It’s vital to figure out early on if you’re going to spend more money on a photographer and less money on a florist or vice versa. What about catering? Are you going to have buffet style, family style, or plated dinner? Do you feel like it’s important to have an open bar? There are ways to cut costs based on your priorities. If you care more about food, spend more on the catering. Everyone always remembers food, but no one will remember the favors they forgot to take at the end of the night. For me, I’ve always been a photo girl. I want to have the most beautiful pictures to remember the day as everyone has told me over and over again how fast the day goes. Because of this, photography is prioritized in our budget.
In the end, talking budget is definitely what overwhelms Eric and I the most. But it is so important that you continue to revisit your budget and that you remain strict with it. We came up with an overall, do not spend more than, number and we are going to stick with it. If this means cutting Sunday brunch, we will cut Sunday brunch; no matter how much I want a bloody mary the morning after.