How do I budget for my wedding?

wedding webWhen identifying your wedding budget, it is important to remember that weddings are not worth going into debt. Therefore, do not decide on a budget that is too large for you to afford. Decide whether you will have a honeymoon, and if so, whether the honeymoon budget will be combined with or separate from the wedding budget. Look at your budget and your future spouse’s budget and decide how much you each can afford to put towards the wedding. If there will be any parent contributions, factor those into the budget as well. Be sure to honor these contributions by mentioning the parents on the invitation and including them in the wedding planning.

How do I plan a wedding that stays within my budget?

There are several aspects to planning a wedding within your budget:

Guests: One way or another, you need to figure out how many people you will be inviting. There are two methods of approaching this task.

  • Guests first: First, identify all the people you want to invite. This list could include family, friends, or coworkers, and the number depends on the restrictions you place on the guest list. Maybe you want a family-only wedding, or maybe you only want people you’ve seen in the past ten years. Once you’ve made your guest list, plan the wedding so that you stay within the budget and can include everyone you invite. This method may require you to choose low-cost options such as a park or social hall venue, or an appetizer- or dessert-only reception.
  • Wedding plans first: First decide what type of wedding you want to have, then figure out how many people you can afford to invite. If you want an expensive destination wedding, you may only be able to invite a few guests. If you want a courthouse wedding, you might only invite a few people to the ceremony but many people to the reception.

Itemized budget: Make a list of all elements of the wedding and decide how much you’re willing to spend on each one. Examples include clothing for the couple and the wedding party, rings, decorations, food, photography, and chair or linen rental. It might be helpful to list two prices–one ideal price and one absolute maximum price. Make sure these absolute maximum prices do not add up to more than your total wedding budget.

Vendors: Be sure you know all costs associated with your vendors, including taxes, fees, and any possible additional charges. If your venue charges extra for you to bring in your own caterer, for example, take note of this fee as well. Finally, save money in your budget for lost deposit or cancellation fees just in case you one day discover that you shouldn’t have chosen a particular vendor.

Ways to Save Money: Several wedding traditions seem mandatory, or like you might seem rude if you skip or alter them, but chances are your guests won’t complain if you do. Feel free to omit or alter various elements if you don’t think they fit with your wedding or they’re too expensive, such as: open bar, favors, lavish decorations, post-wedding brunch, rehearsal dinner, etc. Other than a marriage license (if you want your marriage to be recognized by local and federal governments), most things at a wedding are optional and changeable.

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