Whether you are planning a lower-budget wedding or throwing a huge party, keeping track of your costs is key. You will find that expenses add up quickly (think minimum five figures… minimum!). Even the “smallest” of weddings can turn into a very expensive event if not planned strategically. Here you will find the most important things to consider when creating your budget, common budgeting mistakes, where hidden costs will often turn up and how to save yourself some money so you and your partner can tuck some away for other big expenses coming up in your lives.
So, how much does a wedding cost…really?
Things to Consider in a Wedding Budget
It seems silly to say, but when planning your budget you need to know how much money you have to spend. This can be harder to figure out than you may think. You need to consider you and your fiancé’s individual savings and how much you can save before your wedding month, plus any contributions you will realistically receive from parents or loved ones. Once you have this total amount, decide upon your venue or banquet hall (this will be your biggest expense and you can expect to spend around 50% of your budget on it). Then determine you and your partners’ non-negotiables. This could be your wedding dress, the number of guests, open bar etc. Once you figure out these three things you’ll know how much you can spend on everything else.
Reminder: Finding a venue requires a lot of research. Some require you to use their fittings i.e. chairs, dishware, glassware, etc. Determining exactly what is included in the venue and any extras you included is key to budgeting accurately. You Forever has a wide variety of venue suggestions suiting any style and size of wedding you are planning. We’ll discuss all of these options with you if you wish to book a wedding consultation.
Wedding Budgeting Mistakes
When budgeting, most couples can usually find their ballpark wedding budget. However, they forget to keep track of the money they are actively spending. Creating a spreadsheet with 3 expense columns labelled “estimated cost” (for how much you are anticipating on spending before speaking to vendors), “modified cost” (which you’ll have a better idea after meeting with vendors), and “actual cost” (that being exactly what you’re spending). Your actual cost will often look very different from your estimated and modified costs because of hidden fees and gratuities. Financial calculators can be great tools to help you keep track of (and stay on!) budget.
Planning your guestlist is another aspect that often generally fluctuates greatly until you are looking at exactly how much your dream wedding is going to cost. Remember: you do not need to invite your entire extended family! Your number of guests determines the amount of food, alcohol, chairs, invitations, etc. that add up to your wedding cost. Keep in mind that taking even 10 people off your guestlist will often save you over a thousand dollars. This is why it is important to sit down with your fiancé and make 2 guest lists. The first one should be as ruthless as possible (think only your dearest and closest family/friends that you have seen within the last year). The second should include everybody you would like to invite. From those 2 lists you should be able to meet in the middle to figure out your final guest list.
Prepare for Hidden Wedding Costs
A hidden wedding cost can be extra vendor/caterer/photographer fees that you haven’t anticipated, or simply costs that you have overlooked or not even considered. Wedding vendors know people are willing to spend big bucks on their wedding day, so they will often tack on extra fees (and often gratuities) to different services. When meeting with vendors, make sure they outline every single cost for you so you know exactly how much you are spending on each aspect of your wedding.
Commonly overlooked costs can be guest transportation, setup and cleaning fees, custom cocktails, digital access to photos, envelope stuffing, extra decorations, hair and makeup trials, overtime, etc. The best way not to miss any costs is to map out exactly what your wedding will look like. From invitations being sent out to the day itself, imagine you’ll have to pay for every single thing. Also, open communication with your vendors (and reading the fine print!) will ensure that you have budgeted for every aspect. Just in case some things pop up unexpectedly, which they always do, set aside 5% of your wedding budget. This will be a safety net for extra little splurges and these hidden costs you might not be expecting.
Saving Money on Your Wedding Where Possible
When it comes to planning your wedding, you can put a dollar amount on literally everything. The magical world of wedding planning has made it so easy for you to not do anything yourself – for the right price. If you are willing to spend some (a lot) of your own time putting in the work, and if you are willing to compromise in terms of venue and season, then you can save yourself a lot of money that you can spend elsewhere!
If you spend anywhere under 50% of your entire wedding budget on your venue, congratulations you’ve saved money! The season and even the day of the week can also make a big difference. Choosing a smaller, maybe less “aesthetic” venue on a weekday in the winter can save you A LOT of money. You can then spend this money on decorations to make it as simple or extravagant as you’d like. Making your own decorations will also save you a pretty penny here.
Some companies will charge you upwards of $7 per invitation (and that’s not including calligraphy!) If you order all of your own paper items and address your invitations yourself you can save close to $800-900. So get some friends together, open a bottle of wine (or 3), and get to work!
It is so easy to get overwhelmed when planning your wedding costs. Don’t forget, this is going to be one of the best days of your life. You are committing to a lifetime with your partner. When it comes down to it, the most important thing is that the two of you are happy. You definitely cannot put a price tag on that.
Whether it’s a wedding, rehearsal dinner, engagement or anniversary, get in touch with You Forever and let’s plan your perfect day!