I’m just starting to jump into planning my wedding, and I am at a loss when it comes to creating a budget. I don’t know what qualifies as a reasonable amount! Can you help me?
Anita- Dublin, CA
Creating a budget is a tricky process, so I am glad you asked! The first step to figuring out your budget is to figure out where all the money is coming from. Are you and your fiancé going to pay for everything? Are your parents footing the bill? Maybe you have a generous great aunt on your mother’s side. Regardless of who is contributing to your wedding, make sure to get hard numbers. Someone telling you they will give you $2,000.00-$4,000.00 is less helpful that having a commitment for $2,500.00. The average budget contribution breakdown for 2012 was:
- 59 percent: You and your groom
- 12 percent: Your parents
- 28 percent: A combo of people
- 1 percent: His parents
Once you have figured out how much money you have, it’s time to figure out how you will allocate the money. There are a couple of ways to help you get an idea of how you much you should expect to spend. One way is to ask your wedding venue how much a typical couple at their venue spends. Another way is to assign a dollar amount per guest that you are willing to spend. For instance, if you are willing to spend $200.00 per guest and you have 180 guests, you will need at least $36,000. Finally, if you attended a wedding that you love, and you are close with the couple, ask them how much they spent on their wedding and ask for some tips.
If you’re looking for a general guideline for how much of your budget to dedicate to each aspect, here is the average breakdown for 2012:
- Groom’s Formalwear (Rental): 1.1 percent
- Favors: 1.3 percent
- Officiant: 1.5 percent
- Hair & Makeup (Including Attendants’): 1.8 percent
- Attendants’ Gifts: 2 percent
- Invitations & Other Printed Materials: 2.8 percent
- Transportation: 2.9 percent
- Flowers: 5.7 percent
- Wedding Rings: 6 percent
- Music: 6.8 percent
- Wedding Dress, Veil & Other Accessories: 7.5 percent
- Photography & Videography: 13.6 percent
- Reception Site, Meals, Cake & Bar: 47 percent
If you are having problems staying within your budget, figure out what’s important to you. Are you a huge foodie, but flowers aren’t as important to you? Go ahead and get that meal upgrade and cut back on your flowers. Don’t be shy about using any money saving tips you may have. Saturdays are typically the most expensive days, but Fridays and Sundays are almost as good and usually cheaper. Have a crafty friend? Have her help you make centerpieces, place cards, etc. Is your brother-in-law a professional photographer? Have him do your wedding photos. There is no shame saving some money wherever you can because you always want to plan for any unexpected charges, like the gorgeous pair of Louboutins you saw!
Make sure to keep track of your budget, either on paper or electronically. We like http://wedding.theknot.com/wedding-planning-tools/tools-wedding-budget.aspx from theknot.com. When you keep track of your budget, you are less likely to go over, which is important!
Wedding planning can be complicated, and it only gets more complicated when there are multiple people contributing money and opinions to your wedding. The important thing to remember is that it is YOUR wedding day. Discuss what you and your fiancé want for your big day and make sure you always stay on the same page.