It is not easy to figure out your wedding budget. The wedding you host will be the largest and most expensive party you have ever attended. You will need to calculate your savings and keep a detailed spreadsheet in order to not go over the budget during planning. Also, be prepared for unexpected costs. If you exceed your budget, make significant cuts. Although it’s not easy work, you can make your wedding day a happy one by putting in the effort now. Here are the steps to help you set a wedding budget that you can keep to.
Count Your Cash
The three main sources of money that determine how much you can spend on your wedding are directly related to the amount you pay.
Your fiance and your individual savings: This is not as easy as simply checking your bank account. You and your partner should have three months worth of living expenses saved up in case of job loss or illness. This is separate from retirement funds. Add that amount to your bank total and you can figure out how much you could use for wedding expenses.
You can set aside 10% of your monthly income to pay off student loans and other debts. “Establish direct deposits to a separate account so that it’s not just leftovers that get saved,” Erin Lowry, a personal financial expert and author of “Broke Millennial” (Stop Scraping by and Get Your Financial Life Together), says.
Lowry says that any contributions from loved ones or parents: “Never assume that your parents or other loved one are willing and capable to cover the cost for a wedding.” It doesn’t hurt asking.
Keep track of your spending
A spreadsheet should have three columns for expense: Actual, Modified and Estimated. The amount under Estimated can be driven by research costs in your area. Proposals from vendors will go into Modified and the final amount that you pay them will go into Actual.
After getting estimates from vendors, adjust your estimates. The venue is the most important part of the wedding and will determine guest numbers. Verify that tax is included in estimates from vendors. To adjust the proposal, you can do the math with local and state tax rates.
Be prepared for surprises
Be sure to read all the details before you sign vendor contracts or purchase gift bag items. Even small expenses can quickly add up. Reduce the cost of each line item if it isn’t within your budget.
Do you need to hire a band or photographer from out of town? It is possible that you will need to rent a van or purchase plane tickets. You should double-check your contract to confirm what is included.
Setup and breakdown fees
You may need to pay extra for cleaning depending on when your reception ends.
Don’t get sucked in by the temptation to increase your cash flow through credit cards. Farnoosh Torabi (financial expert and host of So Money podcast) says, “Never charge anything you can’t repay in 30 days.” This is unless your card has a zero percent purchase rate. In this case, you can avoid interest payments if you pay the entire balance within a specified timeframe (usually 12-15 months).
Save Money with These Tips
Over budget? These ideas will help you cut down on your spending.
Change the venue.
Although lofts and barns may seem cheap, you can spend a lot to make them beautiful. Sara Fay Egan, an associate at Jackson Durham Floral and Event Design, Dallas, cautions that you may need to bring in tables and chairs, china and glassware, silverware and kitchen equipment for the caterer. Be sure to estimate the cost of the wedding in that space before you make a commitment.
Modify the guest list
When you add in the cost of the invite, welcome bag, transport, cake and favor, each attendee will end up spending far more than their meal. Clark says, “Never have an A-list and be ruthless in your A-list.” A 15-person guest list reduction of $1,300 is enough to save you about $1,300 for an average 135-person reception.