If you’re recently engaged, I can only assume that the big day is occupying your every waking thought and dream. From flipping through magazines and browsing Pinterest, you may believe that the sky is the limit when it comes to who and what you can include on your wedding day.
However, I’m here to give you a bit of a reality check – weddings are expensive! Whether you plan to host 50 or 150 guests, there is no way to avoid specific costs that come with the territory of planning any type of wedding.
Your best defense in staying on track and not spending more than you can afford is to set up a wedding budget! A budget is the best way to outline all the upcoming expense categories, as well as to prioritize which vendors and extras are most important to you and your significant other.
Use these easy-to-follow steps for how to create a wedding budget in order to help make your wedding day dreams a reality (without spending your life-savings!).
Have an honest conversation about finances
If you and your fiancé have yet to sit down and discuss your current financial situation, now is the time to do it, especially if the two of you plan to cover a majority of wedding expenses yourselves. It’s important to discuss how much each of you can comfortably contribute to the big day without blowing your bank account – starting a marriage in debt is never a good idea! Money can be a touchy subject for some, so be sure to approach the topic with care and caution, and come to a reasonable conclusion together as to how much you’re willing to spend on the wedding.
Verify third-party financial contributions
You shouldn’t be embarrassed or nervous to address yours and your fiancé’s parents to ask if they plan to help financially contribute to any part of the wedding. Simply go into the conversation with a gracious heart and no pre-established notions or assumptions. If you’re still uncomfortable asking both sets of parents for money, consider asking them if they will pay for specific portions or details of the wedding, such as the cake or the flowers.
Draft a preliminary guest list
Before you begin contacting vendors and looking at venues, you, your fiancé and both families need to draft a preliminary guest list. You’ll have time to edit and add guests as the planning progresses, but having a rough ideas as to how many people you plan to host at your wedding will help determine what venues will and will not be able to accommodate you.
Do your research
It’s nearly impossible to create an accurate budget without conducting some preliminary research. Call or email various vendors in your area to inquire and get a ballpark estimate as to how much they charge for their wedding services (don’t forget sales tax!). Once you’ve gathered a variety of information from different vendors, this will help you make an educated decision as to what type of wedding you can afford to have.
Create a priority list
After you’re finished with the initial research, you and your fiancé should determine what you’re not willing to compromise on. Is that wedding photographer that would cost nearly half your budget the most important vendor to you, or would you rather hold your reception at that swanky new golf club? Once you decide what is most important to you, this will further guide your budget and where you will be financially after hiring your must-have vendors.
Open a separate wedding bank account
Although this is most certainly optional, if you’re a bit of an organized-control freak like me, you may want to consider opening a bank account that is solely for wedding expenses. This may help you and your fiancé stay organized and on track with who is being paid and when, and this keeps wedding expenses separate from your every day, life expenses, which makes it less likely that you will overspend or get off track with the budget.
Resist the urge the splurge
Going through the process of setting up a wedding budget is pointless if you don’t follow the guidelines and limits that you set for yourself. It can be hard to not get tempted or sucked in by all the ideas and extras that are available these days for weddings, but you have to find the willpower to stick to your financial plan. Just remind yourself that if you splurge on something not in the budget, you most likely will then have to sacrifice something from your priority list.
Need a little more budget advice? Make sure to read our post on 5 smart ways you can trim your wedding budget.
There are several budget worksheets and calculators available online, free-of-charge, to help you get started on your wedding budget and guide you through the process. I personally used Real Simple Magazine’s worksheet during my wedding planning – I was able to print it out and work on it from my wedding binder. If you’d rather handle everything electronically, The Knot and Wedding Wire offer easy-to-use and follow online-based tools.
How did you set up your wedding budget? What tips do you have to stay on track and not splurge?
Karly Anderson is a born and raised Midwest girl currently residing outside Milwaukee, Wis. Her blog, Miss in the Midwest, chronicles her take on beauty, life and style in the Heartland. Catch up with Karly on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter