Your budget helps to define what kind of wedding you can have, so it’s important to understand what you’re working with. These five simple questions can help guide you in the right direction to creating your perfect day:
How will you be paying for your wedding?
Having parents pay for your wedding is no longer a given. Our recent Wedding Survey suggests that over 50% of average wedding expenses are paid by the bride and groom, so before beginning your planning process you’ll need to identify where the money is coming from and how much will be available. How much are you and your partner able to contribute? Are you planning to use a wedding loan (and if so, what size)? Are you willing to spend some of your savings? Answering these types of questions will make it easier to manage expectations and prevent sticker shock as you kick off wedding planning.
What will your wedding vendors really cost?
Make sure you fully understand what you’re signing up for before you execute any contracts. Hidden fees and add-ons frequently arise that don’t fit in your budget. Before signing your venue contract I suggest speaking with couples that were recently married at the venue, to ensure you’re not being misled in any way.
And don’t forget about the cost of tips! Typical gratuities for caterers alone range from $200 to over $600, so allocating a realistic portion of your budget for tips is important. To learn more about how much you should tip, check out my recent article, “To Tip or Not to Tip? That is the Question.”
What are your “must haves,” and which wedding expenses can you live without?
Tradeoffs will happen. You’ll find you have to cut back on one thing in order to afford something else. My friend opted for less expensive flowers so she could have the amazing band that made her wedding one of the best dance parties I’ve ever seen. Prioritizing the key elements of your big day will make planning for it—and compromising—that much easier.
How much can your guests and wedding party reasonably afford?
We’ve all been there during wedding season as we devote our vacation days and extra money to flights, hotels, outfits . . . phew! Needless to say, weddings are expensive for everyone involved so it’s important to be aware of how much your guests, especially your bridesmaids and groomsmen, can afford (and feel comfortable paying). This is a touchy subject, and we suggest tackling it sooner rather than later because it can influence your wedding budget decisions in many ways.
How will you manage your wedding budget?
For some couples, this is the first time you’ll be balancing a budget with your partner. It’s important to know who will own the budget and how you’re planning to keep track of it, whether it’s by using an online tool or an Excel sheet, like our Wedding Budget Tracker.
These questions should help you kick off your wedding planning. For more tips and ideas, check out the rest of our wedding blog.