The Wedding Budget: How to Set One and Stick to it
You may have been dreaming of your perfect wedding for years, but don’t let your ideas get ahead of your finances! While setting your wedding budget may seem like a bore, creating (and sticking to) your budget is arguably the most important part of wedding planning.
In all the excitement of wedding planning, it can be easy to just start looking without actually knowing how much you have to spend. No matter your wedding dreams, it’s all about making your finances work for you – and that starts with knowing what your wedding budget is. Whatever your situation, here are some general guidelines for setting your wedding budget and sticking to it!
Step 1: Figure Out Who is Contributing to Your Wedding Budget
You may already know that you and your partner will be solely paying for your entire wedding – in which case this is an easy step for you! However, it may be that your parents or other family members wish to contribute to your wedding budget. So, finding out who is willing to chip in is a good first step to calculating your wedding budget.
Of course, this can be a tricky conversation but one you should have sooner rather than later. While it is no longer the expectation that the bride’s family will pay for the wedding, it’s worth seeing if either of your families wishes to help or pay for a specific cost. For example, your mum may have always dreamed of buying her daughter’s wedding dress, in which case that’s something you can remove from your wedding budget.
Step 2: Decide What You Can Afford with Your Partner
Once you know if you’ll be receiving any help from your family, you can focus on your own contribution. You will need to figure out how much you and your partner can realistically and comfortably afford to spend. First, how much do you have in savings and how much of this are you willing to put towards your wedding? You should always keep an emergency fund to cover things like a car breakdown, plus it’s best not to dip into a special saving fund for something like a house deposit.
Second, write down exactly how much income you both get each month. Then, take away all your consistent financial commitments, such as your rent or mortgage, transport costs and food budget. On top of these, you’ll have extra, fun expenses such as days out with friends and birthday or Christmas presents, so set aside a realistic amount for that. After you have made these calculations, what is left is the amount you have to spend on or save for your wedding each month.
Step 3: Estimate Your Guest Count
The cost of a wedding is pretty much based on guest count. The number of guests will determine the size of your venue and how much food and drink you’ll have to provide. Your guest count will also generate the number of several items such as invitations, cake slices, and wedding favours. So, the size of your guest list will determine roughly how much you need to be aiming to save. If you realise that your guest list is too large for your wedding budget, you either need to give yourself more time to save, or cut down your guest list to a more realistic figure.
Step 4: Create an Emergency Fund
During your wedding planning, you will find that small, unexpected costs are inevitably going to pop up! So, it’s a good idea to have a contingency fund that you don’t touch in case of emergencies. We suggest setting aside around 10-15% of your wedding budget and simply pretending it doesn’t exist until you absolutely need it.
Also, you may want around £500 spare for the wedding day itself. This is in case of last-minute emergencies, such as your wedding cars going AWOL or extra food and drink charges. If you don’t use it, then that’s an extra £500 for your honeymoon fund!
Step 5: Figure out Your Biggest Costs
Your wedding venue will inevitably be your biggest cost. So, you should first start by halving your wedding budget. This should cover your wedding venue hire, plus your food and drink charges. So, your first big decision should be to find quotes for hire and cost per head from venues you’re interested in and see whether they fit in your wedding budget. Also, not every venue will offer the same kind of package. So, find out all the costs upfront and adjust your budget accordingly.
In fact, there are a lot of hidden costs that you’ll have to consider in your wedding budget! For example, you often can’t just buy the wedding cake; you’re required to pay a cutting fee. Also, you don’t pay just the venue hire fee; there may also be set-up and breakdown charges. So, enquire about every cost with your suppliers, such as delivery and service.
Top Tip: The Guides for Brides brand new wedding budget planner uses data from real couples to help you work out what to spend your budget on. You’ll be able to see how much other couples would spend on certain elements of the day based on your budget bracket. It’s the perfect starting point to help you figure out what you can afford and it’s totally adaptable to your situation.
Step 6: Prioritise the Rest of Your Wedding Budget
Your remaining wedding budget is for everything else, from wedding attire and wedding rings to stationery, flowers and décor. To assign the rest of your wedding budget, start by drawing up a list of non-negotiables with your partner. This could be anything from fancy invitations or live music for the evening reception to an open bar or a fireworks display. If you can’t imagine your wedding without it, you need to prioritise it in your wedding budget and start looking elsewhere to save. Always remember that an extra £500 for the dress of your dreams needs to be cut somewhere else. However, be sensible about non-negotiables: pick two or three, otherwise you will have no budget left!
Book these priorities first, so you can continually adjust how much you have to spend elsewhere. You may also want to make another list of things that you want at your wedding but don’t feel the need to spend too much on, such as a massive wedding cake. This will help if you find you’re spending more than you need in this area.
How to Stick to Your Wedding Budget
Now you have decided how much you have to spend on your wedding and what you want to spend it on. So, how do you stick to your wedding budget?
Track Your Budget
Essentially, strictly tracking your budget is the only fail-safe way of making sure you don’t go over it. This can be a boring task but it will definitely be worth it in the long run! Set up a spreadsheet that you and your partner have access to. Then, in one tab, put the rough budget you’ve allotted for each of your purchases; in another tab, note down literally every purchase you make. Every month, add up what you’ve spent in each area and compare it to your original, estimated spend. So, if you can see you’ve already used up a lot of your decor budget on half the things you need, you’ll be able to reevaluate before it’s too late!
Use a Separate Bank Account
You might want to set up a separate wedding bank account so it’s easy to see exactly where your money is going. Also, you can take advantage of new account offers! For example, some banks will give you £100 for setting up a new account or free travel insurance, which could cover your honeymoon.
Use Your Credit Cards and Loans Responsibly
For some couples, the best avenue to pay for their wedding will be through personal loans or credit cards.
Loans: Couples choosing a loan often do so in order to have all the money they need for their wedding and pay this off in manageable chunks. If you are considering taking this route, think carefully about the loan you choose. We recommend you do your research on personal loans on a comparison site such as Loans Warehouse and always read the small print before agreeing with the lender. Borrow responsibly, by ensuring that the payments are achievable for your lifestyle and the annual percentage rate (APR) is suitable for you.
Credit Cards: The most popular credit cards used by wedding couples are 0% interest credit cards and rewards-based credit cards. While both have their perks such as being able to spread the cost of what you borrow and earning cashback or bonuses on your purchases, they must be used responsibly. Before purchasing on any credit card, ensure you are able to pay off the full balance in time to avoid affecting your credit score and getting into unmanageable debt.
Don’t Be Afraid to Use Supermarkets
Of course, you won’t be getting your wedding dress from Sainsbury’s! But, you don’t have to use wedding suppliers for all purchases. Supermarkets can be great options, for example, if you don’t want to spend tons on a wedding cake or are doing DIY catering. You could also join a loyalty scheme that can see you earn lots of points if you’re stocking up on all your drinks for your reception.
Take Out Wedding Insurance
Wedding insurance may seem like an additional cost but it can certainly save you money down the line! While it’s unlikely anything will happen and your day will go completely to plan, it’s good to know you’re covered in case of the unexpected. You don’t want your budget being wasted if you have to cancel or postpone your wedding.
Be Confident in Your Decisions
Finally, make sure you are certain about a supplier or venue before you put down a deposit. Don’t feel pressured into booking immediately. Instead, go away with a quote, put it into your spreadsheets, and then come back. If you change your mind, you’ll forfeit your deposit, taking a chunk out of your wedding budget.
Setting your wedding budget may seem overwhelming but don’t panic! If you are on the same page as your partner and are sensible and organised, you shouldn’t take any difficulty setting and sticking to your wedding budget.
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