How to Create and Stick to a Budget
By: Kristen Castillo
It’s one of the fundamentals of wedding planning – developing a budget that you can stick to. While it’s never an easy job, setting a budget is essential to making sure you can afford the wedding of your dreams.
You have to decide how much money to spend and where to spend it. Start by deciding what matters most to you. Maybe you love fresh flowers and want to be surrounded by them; or maybe music is your passion and you want to hear great music throughout your big day.
Plan to spend 50 percent of your budget on your reception. You’ll be paying for food and drinks which adds up quickly. A plated, sit down dinner is the most expensive option, but it’s also the classiest. A buffet can be a more budget-friendly option, but only if you don’t add in pricey carving stations and lots and lots of menu variety. A luncheon can be a great idea for a plated meal with smaller portions and a smaller price tag too.
Your budget needs to stretch to include nibbles and drinks before the meal. During a cocktail hour, you’ll offer guests drinks and hors d’oeuvres. Tray passed appetizers are classy, but pricey. For a budget-conscious option, mix things up with a cheese and fruit table, and a few hot and cold appetizers, as well as a signature drink like mojitos. Don’t forget about dessert. Wedding cake is a staple of every reception and it’s often pricey. A tiered wedding cake is the standard, but if you have a big budget go for small cakes for each table or individual cupcakes for each guest. If you’re budget-conscious, consider ordering a small wedding cake to cut and supplementing that cake with a simple sheet cake.
BRIDE AND GROOM ATTIRE: 10%
Looking good takes about 10 percent of your wedding budget. He’ll look dapper in his tux and you’ll be gorgeous in your gown, but getting there takes some money. You’ll need to order and pay for your attire months before the big day. While many grooms rent their tuxedo or suit, as well as the dress shoes, brides tend to go on a spending spree for the perfect gown, shoes and accessories.
Don’t forget to budget in alterations too, which can be costly. Figure out your attire budget before you make an appointment at a bridal salon, so you know how much you can safely spend without exceeding your spending limit. It’s tough to do, but that’s the way to control your budget. After all, buying a wedding gown can be a very emotional purchase.
FLOWERS AND DECOR: 10%
You’ll spend another 10 percent on flowers and décor for the ceremony and reception. For the ceremony, you’ll need your bridal bouquet, flowers for your wedding party and key family members like the mother of the bride. You’ll also need ceremony pieces such as topiaries and elevated centerpieces. You’ll order centerpieces for each reception table, as well as flowers for arches, the cake table and even the guest book table.
Décor is a very personal detail and it can make an event shine. The right linens, lights and embellishments add pizzazz. Some of the most popular décor rentals include the following: chairs, chair covers and sashes, backdrops and linens, like napkins and tablecloths. Most often you’ll rent these décor elements from one vendor so consider asking for a bulk discount to maximize your budget.
Don’t underestimate the value of wedding entertainment. You’ll need to spend about 10 percent of your budget to get the right music for your event. Figure out what type of musicians you want for your ceremony such as a pianist, a flutist or a string quartet. For your cocktail hour and reception, you can choose a live band or a DJ, but either way you’ll want a professional who can pace your event and keep guests entertained.
PHOTOGRAPHY & VIDEOGRAPHY: 10%
These are categories that can’t be overlooked or undervalued. You want a quality photographer and videographer to capture the memories of your day. You can often snag a deal if you book a photographer and videographer from the same company. Basic packages get you a few hours of coverage as well as an album or two and a simple wedding video. You can add on extras like additional albums and video montages for a fee, depending on how much money you have to spend and how important photography and video are to you and your groom.
FAVORS AND GIFTS: 2%
All of your wedding day extras from personalized gifts to candy favors are included in this category which typically is about two percent of your overall budget. These are often some of the last purchases you’ll make as your wedding gets closer, but if you overspend on other categories, you may have to cut back on these extras.
Whether you want a sports car, a limo bus or a classic car to get you to the ceremony and reception, expect to spend about two percent of wedding budget on transportation. Like many wedding services, a deposit is required when you book transportation. Don’t forget to set aside some cash to tip your driver too.
CEREMONY SITE: 2%
In most cases, you’ll spend two percent of your budget on a ceremony site. With a church wedding or nuptials in a park, you’ll pay a small fee to hold your event at the venue.
WEDDING BANDS: 2%
Your rings are one of the few take-a-ways from the wedding. Pricing varies for ring styles and metals, but you’ll likely need to set aside two percent of your budget to pay for your rings, which are usually paid in full at the time of purchase.
From save-the-date cards to wedding invitations to thank you cards, you’ll need approximately two percent of your budget to cover the costs of wedding stationery. Pick stationery that complements your wedding style and go ahead – ask for a discount since you’re buying all of your stationery needs at once.
Setting a budget and sticking to it is never easy, but it’s the only way to make sure you’re on the right financial track for your special day. Tweak the budget percentages based on your tastes and needs and you’ll be on your way to planning an event that you love and can afford.