When it comes to planning your wedding, the budget dictates everything. We strongly suggest not proceeding with any other task until a budget has been set. That’s why it’s the first topic our “#isaidyes Now What?” series! By the end of this post, you’ll have your total budget set and allocated so you can start planning in a smart and budget savvy way almost guaranteeing you won’t over spend! Let’s dive right in, shall we?

How to Set Your Budget

Setting your budget is not always a simple task. With more and more couples opting to marry later in life, the expectation for someone else to pay for the big day is gone. Additionally, it’s not always the bride’s family that’s solely responsible. In today’s day and age, we see a lot of couples splitting the cost with both families or paying for the day on their own. Here’s the best way to determine the funds available to you and set your total budget:

1.   Start by talking to both families 

2.  Determine how much money you and your fiancé can contribute 

3.  Talk about how much you are comfortable spending 

4. Be realistic // Being realistic about the wedding budget is an extension of finding a number you are both comfortable with. We often hear that couples only want to spend “X” amount of money but want a wedding that could easily cost three times that without blinking an eye. Do some research in your area to figure out what the average cost of services is before you assume you can do it for way less. We don’t believe that you should never put yourself in debt, but you may find that you have to spend a little more of what’s available to you than originally planned. 

**National average cost of a wedding: appx: $33,000 (based on a 2016 survey by The Knot). Costs vary by area with some regions costing more and others less. 

Tips for Allocating Your Budget

Once you’ve set your budget, it’s time to allocate it to each category. The type of wedding you want will influence your allocation a bit but there are some general rules to follow. While we dive head first into this with each of our clients by asking a series of questions and evaluating the client’s local wedding market, we’re sharing the basics with you here.  

1.      Start by taking 10% of your total budget and setting it aside for contingency // Contingency funds can be used for unforeseen expenses, gratuities, and overages from any category. Having a contingency is just a guarantee that you won’t spend more money than you have.

2.     After you’ve set aside 10%, the remaining 90% will become your “Adjusted Budget” and what all allocation amounts should be based on

3.     Rank what’s most important to you // Ranking the important items will help you make adjustments to the suggested allocations to meet your needs. It will also put into perspective how much energy and focus you should be putting on a specific detail. 

4.     Keep in mind that some things just cost more // Even if the food is not important to you, it’s still going to be expensive to feed 150 people. It’s not realistic to expect to spend $5.00 per person on catering. The average buffet style meal through a traditional catering company starts around $25.00 per person + service fees. 

How to Stay on Budget

Like with home renovations, we often find that many couples way overspend their budget for any number of reasons. Here are some tips for making sure you stay on track. 

1.      Eliminate the non-necessities

2.     Allocate funds to contingency // This was mentioned above but you shouldn’t ignore it so we’re saying it again. Listen, sometimes things happen. As much as you plan and track every dollar spent, there are some things you just can’t prepare for. That’s what contingency is for!

3.     If you overspend in one category, underspend in another

4.     Again, be realistic // We can’t stress this one enough. Being unrealistic about your budget is the easiest way to overspend and add unnecessary stress.  

Now that you’ve read about how to set and allocate your budget, it’s time to actually do it. If you want our budget worksheet, allocation guide, budget tracker, and even more advice on creating your budget, sign-up for the email version of this series by clicking the black “sign up” button in the corner. 

Don’t forget to share your progress with us on Instagram and Facebook by using #isaidyesnowwhat. And, for more planning advice from the pros, be sure to follow us on Instagram  and “Like” us on Facebook 

Set your wedding budget with these easy steps from @The I Do List