The engagement photos have now been taken, you’ve got your wedding planner book close at hand – with the date etched in as the now looming deadline – and you’re ready to focus on the task ahead: actually planning your wedding. How exciting!
If you have a particular venue in mind it’s best to get this sorted as soon as possible, as some popular venues get booked up months, if not years in advance. If you haven’t decided where you and your love will say the “I do’s” don’t worry, we’ll focus on venues next week. But before you start planning centre pieces, Krug Champagne or doves to be let out as you depart the church, there is one thing that needs to be sorted: the budget.
You and your husband-to-be have to sit down and figure out exactly how much you both have to spend on your special day. No doubt, you’ll by now invested in a few bridal magazines and scoured the bridal websites and blogs for inspiration – ours included we hope! Perhaps your man will let you take care of all the little details and is happy as long as his suit isn’t pink, but remember that there are two people sharing what will be an amazing day, so make sure both are involved from day one (this way it will also be easier to share responsibilities at a later stage). And if you’re like me, you’re easily distracted by pretty things that eventually could end up costing you a fortune. So a budget – even if horribly tedious – is essential.
We suggest making a night of it. Buy in a few bottles of wine, have some nice food to nibble on and arm yourself with pen, paper and a calculator. Only when you know what you can spend, the quotes you collect will start making sense.
Your trusted friend, the wedding planner, will most likely have a budget template so that you can easily list all items you can think of that need to be taken into account. Otherwise, there are many free templates available online, which a quick Google search and printout will take care of.
What is your overall budget?
OK, now you can start looking at how this should be divided across the budget categories. We find it works to compartmentalise. First think of the bigger picture: bride, groom, outfits for your wedding party, venue and ceremony, food and drink, on the day expenses (e.g. photography and music), and honeymoon. These are now your budget categories. Now you can tackle each category at a time. Most likely you as the bride will have a bigger piece of the cake so to speak compared to your groom, as you’ll need a dress, new shoes, professional makeup and hair, perfume, jewellery, and a head piece (if this is your thing) just to name a few.
Think about your guest list
The size of your wedding party is a huge factor that will determine the costs. Are you thinking only close friends and family or a 200 plus party? Who will attend just the ceremony, just the reception or both? More invites equals more invitations, more gifts, more food and more drink. Aunts and uncles ok, but does Daisy from university really need an invitation if you haven’t seen or spoken to her for months even if you were inseparable at the time? The best way to tackle this would be to decide on an overall size: small, medium or large and stick to it. List the immediate family and friends that are a given, then allocate a number of friends each that you can invite (keep in mind that each might come with a plus one ) and stick to it. If not, your wedding will be super-sized before you know it.
Money, what money?
It is also wise to set up a separate bank account to use for all wedding related expenses and to pay any monetary wedding donations into. Also set up a standing order from both of your bank accounts that will add to the funds on a monthly basis.
Divide and conquer
Whatever your budget is, start writing down what you’re estimating to spend on each element. If you’re afraid of scribbling all over your beautiful wedding planner, use Post It notes and a big board or your wall, and make a big wedding chart. Not only will it add some fun into budgeting it could also make a nice feature for your wall.
It could take a lot of toing and froing to get to the right sum that fits with your budget – and most likely you’ll end up going over it either way *hush hush*. But also think about what means the most to you. Want to get married by a castle but it costs double as much as your local church? Consider what you can save on. If you’re not too bothered about your wedding dress being made especially for you as you’ll only wear it once, consider heading to a charity shop near you – you might find a perfect second-hand dress for a fragment of the price of a new one. Flowers look amazing, but as most will be cut off flowers they will dwindle a few days after the ceremony. Think about other things that can adorn your reception area and tables: candles, bowls of water with a sprinkle of flower petals or even items that hold a sentimental value. Did you and your groom spend time travelling at some stage in your relationship? Why not place items you gathered when travelling or photos as the centrepiece? The possibilities are endless!
Believe us; putting the budget together doesn’t have to be as dreary as it sounds – make it fun by being creative.
How are you getting on planning your wedding? We’d love to hear from you!
Step 3: Venue
Images from nofreetime.com