Getting married is one of the most exciting moments of your life. From the moment you and your partner say “yes”, the countdown begins to your special day. That said, planning your wedding can also be stressful, so giving yourself enough time to plan and prepare can significantly reduce the stress and make it an even more exciting process.
Part of the planning process is deciding on your budget, and what you want to spend on each aspect of your wedding, from your wedding venue, to the dress, and not to mention the catering budget!
You want everything perfect, which is the key difficulty of budgeting (and let’s face it, talking about money isn’t the most fun in the world, but is important), but keeping record of your expenses will help you keep tabs of what you can spend. Below are a few tips for keeping yourself closer to the ballpark estimate.
Set a Budget (and Expect to Overspend a Little)
It sounds counterintuitive but when budgeting for your wedding, strive to stay under budget, and plan to overspend in certain areas. It’s almost inevitable that you will forget a detail, something will change, or there will be an unexpected demand, like needing umbrellas for an outdoor reception.
As you approach your wedding and things start to come together, you may want even more, or to improve certain details. Maybe you aren’t happy with how your shoes work with the dress, or your bridesmaid dresses don’t fit very well, so you need to pay to make alterations, or simply purchase a new one altogether. Just be sure to delegate a certain amount to each category, and be prepared to shuffle things around as you prioritize what you really want in the end.
Since your wedding venue sets the tone for the wedding pictures and celebration, that should be on the top of your priorities, with the catering, dress, and entertainment close behind.
Create a Spreadsheet
Spreadsheets are a great way to create a budget on what you are going to spend on different aspects of your wedding, as well as a way to track what you have spent vs your prediction. Try to keep your spreadsheet updated throughout your planning process and make sure you try to keep your spending as close to what you have budgeted (that said, it’s sometimes very difficult to do that when planning your wedding, but it’s possible!).
A big plus with a spreadsheet is that you can access it on your phone, so when out and about shopping for wedding details, you can quickly check what you have currently spent.
Purchase Things in Advance
By purchasing things in advance, not only will budgeting be easier but you can take advantage of any special offers going on at the time. Or, if your wedding is near Thanksgiving, you could choose to purchase certain items around Black Friday, or Cyber Monday sales. It’s just advised not to wait until the last minute in case you don’t end up getting what you’re looking for.
While you can take advantage of the sales for certain items, other aspects of your wedding such as the wedding photographer is something you’ll want to do in advance in order to ensure you get the one you want.
You can even talk to them about a downpayment, or payment in full if they will offer a small discount to hire them right then. By purchasing things in advance, this will also give you a chance to save more, or change your budget if you realize it isn’t accurate on some of the other items you are buying.
Consider the Hidden Costs
Try to brainstorm all the hidden costs that you may not have thought of initially. Ask the married couples you know for advice on what costs came as a surprise for them, and include these in your budget. Also, have a look online and see what other people consider as a hidden cost for your wedding.
The more prepared you are, the less likely something is going to come as a surprise. Hidden costs that you may not have thought of could be tipping, bridesmaid and groomsmen gifts, favors for your guests, invitations, the cost of changing a name, and so on.
Borrow What You Can
If close friends or family members have recently gotten married, see if they will let you borrow amenities they used for their wedding. You don’t want to overdo it, but they may have something perfect for you that will help you stay close to budget.
Maybe they purchased something for their evening entertainment that you could use, or they have some centerpieces that you can use, but make small adaptations to so that it looks different. Even if they know of someone who would be willing to help out, prioritizing your categories, and recording your expenses will help you stay within the budget you’re striving for.