One thing I have learned from planning my wedding is not to let the influences of others steer you away from what you truly want. Ever since I was a little girl, I imagined this romantic, elegant, and love-filled wedding. But I never thought about how much everything cost until it was my turn to start the planning process. Let me tell you, it sucks! Everything is expensive, everything. So here are 5 Tips On How To Budget For Your Wedding The Right Way.
Can You Afford It?
Think of your wedding the same as if you were to be buying a car. Do you want a 1999 Toyota Camry or do you want a 2019 Audi R8? Most couples will want to drive a luxurious car, who wouldn’t?! But, which car can you afford for a monthly payment? And how long do you want to be paying it off? So before you do anything, set a budget. Figure out exactly how much you want to put into the wedding, and I mean the full Mac-Daddy budget for everything and anything under the sun associated with your wedding. Let’s say you decided on a budget of $20,000. Now take that number and divide it by the number of months you have to plan your wedding. We will say you have 24 months until your wedding date. So $20,000 / 24 months = $833.34 per month. That is $833.34 that you will need to put into a wedding savings account each month to afford your wedding. Does this payment seem reasonable? If not, then change your budget!
Don’t Use A Loan or Credit Card – Just Save!
Now let’s say if you have 150 people on your guest list, assume all of those 150 people will be attending your wedding. Considering that all the people on your guest list will show up will give you the maximum dollar it will cost when talking with certain vendors.
Specifically, when you talk with your caterer, ask them to quote you at 150 people. The final headcount is usually not due until 2 weeks to 1 month before your wedding. Before you submit your final headcount, you should have already received an RSVP from the people that will be attending, so if it is any number less than the 150 people you assumed in the beginning, and when you submit your final headcount, your remaining bill should go down!*
*Double check with your vendor that this is something they do before you sign a contract! Most vendors know that some guests will not show which is why they require a final headcount closer to the wedding date.
Once that final headcount is submitted, and if some of those guests from the final count do not show, you will still be responsible for paying whatever the final headcount was. After the final headcount is submitted, your cost can only go up, never down (usually).
Most of the time, about 10-20% of the people from your guest list will not show up. But do not go off of this when talking with vendors. You can be upfront with them and say something like “I have 150 people on my guest list right now, so I know not everyone will come, but I would like a quote for 150 people just in case”.
TIP: Figure out every-single-person that you believe you would like to have at your wedding. That includes your cousin that was twice removed and any plus-ones for the single people (if you want them there). I recommend having this number figured out before you even select a venue. Why? Because this will give you an idea of the size the venue needs to be to host your wedding as well as the catering cost. You don’t need to book a venue that can host up to 500 people if you only have 150 people on your list. Usually larger venues cost more, and now you have a ridiculously large room for a small number of guests. You want your guests to mingle, not feel like their on their own island!
You Wouldn’t Buy A Luxury Car If You Can Only Afford An Economy Car.
Plain and simple, don’t buy something you can’t afford!! Now that you have figured out your budget and guest list, its time to pick your vendors. That means your venue, catering, photographer, videographer, DJ/band, florist, cake designer, etc. To give you an idea this is what you should assume a majority of your budget should go to:
Ceremony/Reception Site: 15-25%*
*Catering should cover all the cost of food and beverage supplied during your wedding, from drinks during the ceremony to the dessert bar at the end of the reception.
**Dress/Attire should cover your wedding dress, your suit, shoes, jewelry, veil, bra, underwear, etc. Virtually anything that you and your spouse will be wearing on the day of your wedding.
You don’t want to book a vendor that consumes a majority of your budget! If you do this, that means you will have to “settle” on other vendors you may not love. You do NOT want to “settle” for anything associated with your wedding!
Do Your Research.
There is a gorgeous venue that has all the bells and whistles you want, but just the site fee is $10,000 to book. You only have a budget of $20,000. Even though this venue is perfect, you can’t afford it. Remember, that gorgeous venue is like a luxury car, but you can only afford an economy car. Find a venue that has similar bells and whistles, but not at a cost that kills your budget. You still need to book a photographer, music, food, flowers, etc.
When I say research, I mean research the hell out of it until you find the one! You waited all this time for the perfect spouse to say “I Do” too, do the same with your vendors! When I was looking for a venue for my wedding, I contacted about 20 different locations before I found the perfect one. I was tired, annoyed, frustrated, irritated, and then some… but when I finally found the one, I was happy I did not “settle” for something that didn’t have everything I wanted. I remember specifically saying “I am glad I keep searching.”
Be upfront with the vendors you are researching. Tell them you are not ready to book anyone yet, you are just trying to get a ballpark idea on how much it will cost to book them. Don’t forget to ask about those hidden costs like taxes, travel, and other fees. You don’t want to fall in love with a vendor and then your blind-sided with something like unexpected taxes that can leave a negative impact on a quote.
If you think you want it, include it. For example, if you are getting a quote from a DJ company and they are running a special on uplighting and this is something you think you may want and you are still within budget, go ahead and add it to the quote. It is better to assume than under assume. The DJ that I booked was running a 50% off special on uplight, so I went ahead and added the uplighting to the quote. Worst-case scenario I can remove the uplights if I don’t want it later (double-check with that particular vendor that it is possible to remove an item later, with no fees, if you decide you don’t want it anymore!). If I didn’t add uplights to my quote at the discounted price, it would have cost me a lot more to add it later at the regular rate.
I also wanted coffee and hot cocoa to be offered during the ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception dessert bar. I looked into companies that do this specifically – as a mobile coffee bar. To hire a mobile coffee bar it would have cost me roughly $1,000+ for all my guests. After a little more research, I found out that my catering company actually offers this same luxury, at only $200 total. Yep, that’s right… BIG DIFFERENCE! So be sure to research the hell out of everything you think you may want. Ask questions like your life depends on it. Be upfront with your expectations and budget when talking to potential vendors. Don’t be afraid to ask about any specials or discounts that those vendors may offer.