What Most People Don’t Know About Wedding Budgets

Many people are surprised at the cost of weddings. A couple becomes engaged and the bride starts her journey into wedding planning accompanied by her parents and maybe a trusted friend. Everyone is very excited and looking forward to getting started. Before you rush into making appointments with every vendor in town, there’s an important decision that needs to be made… creating a budget, which can be very difficult when you don’t know where to begin.

The average cost of a wedding in 2013 was $30,000. So that figure might give you a benchmark, and if you want a large wedding with lots of extras… know that you’re going to go beyond the $30,000 range. If you want to stay in the $30,000 range, keep in mind that you’re going to have to be careful with your money.

With that said, you can have a very nice wedding with whatever budget you set, but you have to know what you’re comfortable spending before you begin planning. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve worked with who have a small budget, but they want 10 bridesmaids, 200 people, and a six o’clock wedding. My question to you is, “Do you want a very nice small, intimate wedding… or a larger wedding that will have to be slightly lower quality in order to stay within your budget?”

If you want quality over quantity, think about an afternoon wedding. A lunch menu is less expensive than a dinner menu. The choice of attire will be less expensive. The florals will be less expensive because an afternoon wedding won’t require more formal blossoms. You’ll also need to make sure your guest list is streamlined as much as possible. Most caterers charge per head and the more people you have the more tables, linens, flowers, and china will be required. Try to keep your wedding party small. Boutonnieres and bouquets add up, as well as bridesmaids and groomsmen gifts.

Once you’ve created a budget, you’ll need to decide what percentage will go to each category or vendor (meaning your planner, photographer, cake, invitations, etc.). At this point you can start making appointments with vendors. Don’t be afraid to share your budget that you’ve allotted for that particular vendor. They’ll be able to tell you if they can work within that budget or not, and if they can’t, you’ll save a lot of time by crossing them off your list. If they can work within that budget, feel free to ask them for suggestions on how to get the most for your money. For instance, you can always have a faux cake bottom made from styrofoam and have sheet cake in the kitchen to serve. That way, you have a big beautiful cake and the first layer is real, so you can cut it for a lot less money.

There’s no point in making your budget a big secret, as you’ve probably already learned watching the bridal shows on TV. If you look at the $20,000 dress first, everything else might seem less than wonderful and you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. Share with your vendors the figure you’re comfortable with because the more you communicate with them, the better your relationship will be. This is where having a planner can be useful because they’ll know which vendors will fit within your budget and save you from having to repeat the same conversation with each one.

I promise you, you’ll save yourself a lot of stress if you make your budget first and stick with it as close as you can. Remember this is supposed to be a wonderful, magical time in your life and if you’re not careful it can turn into a nightmare.