Okay, it is time to talk wedding budgets, which we know isn’t the most fun topic. But we need to talk about it and talking about it is actually a really good thing! I think the main reason wedding budgets can be so difficult to think about or deal with is because they aren’t always the most realistic and things go way off track very, very quickly when that happens.
Start the budget talk
Whether you are paying for the wedding yourself or have family helping out, go ahead and schedule a time to walk through your budget. Don’t think about setting a budget as a constricting or a limiting thing. Any budget coach out there will tell you that it really gives you freedom to make the choices that are best for you! You may or may not already know some of the vendors you want to work with, and if you do, feel free to reach out about their price and availability. This will come in handy in the next few steps.
I also want you to set up a monthly “wedding planning chat” in your calendar for everyone at this meeting. This will be the time to update where you are in the process, what is left to do, and how the budget is working out. Obviously you can talk about the wedding as much as you want to each month, but just in case your dad or fiance needs a little planning break, these monthly check-ins will be great for that! Oh and these monthly budget meetings can be something you continue into your marriage too.
Each of my planning brides gets an online budgeting tracker and a monthly chat with me as well. We go over all your wedding to-dos including your budget. – Contact me today for more information!
Prioritize your must-haves
During your budget planning meeting, talk with everyone there and figure out what are your biggest priorities or must-haves for your wedding. Do you want a band over a DJ? Is the food more important than your florals or vice versa? What is your dream venue? All of this will go into creating your budget. It will also aid in your monthly budget meetings to make sure everyone’s priorities are being checked off.
If you’re concerned about tensions between family members, allowing them to pick one thing they want as a priority will help immensely with this! They will feel like their opinion is being heard, while still leaving you and your fiancé as the main decision makers.
Let’s talk wedding vendors
Okay, now that you know what everyone is prioritizing, it is time to start looking at vendors. As a professional, my recommendation is to always hire a professional and why I recommend getting actual prices for vendors you love to help you create your budget.
If a planner or photographer is at the top of your priority list, try to book them first. If a specific venue is what you’re after, pay your deposit and save your date ASAP.
Can we have a little heart-to-heart real quick? I’m not saying to not have a pre-set budget before you find out some of these details, but what I want to be clear about is that wedding vendors have priced themselves accordingly for their time, expertise, and cost of doing business. They want to work with you on your wedding day and (most) are not trying to nickel-and-dime you every step of the way. So let them know upfront that you’re gathering pricing to create a realistic budget. It is totally OK if they are truly out of your budget, but hopefully by following these steps, you’ll be able to find the perfect vendors for your wedding day!
Setting the budget
Then review the amount those booked vendors are and see where you need to adjust budget wise. I personally believe this is where unrealistic budgets come into play and couples feel they are way off budget when really they’re right on target.
Let’s run through an example: Couple decides on $15,000 budget but have already put down deposits on these vendors…
Caterer: cost per guest
Cake: cost per layer / slice
Extra rentals not provided by venue: ???
Without even considering food, beverage and guest count we’re already at $14,000. That also doesn’t include your dress, invitations, welcome baskets, and favors. So how do you make this work if $15,000 is your max?
You go back to your priority list and guest list. Maybe you find a different venue or change from a band to a DJ. Ask your photographer if they have a second shooter that could capture video. Consider floral arrangements on every other table and a different centerpiece for the other ones, like photos of you both as kids, dating, engaged, etc… You can make a budget work for you if you’ve set your priorities correctly. It is also okay to adjust your budget if you can and need to do so.
One last thing
My last suggestion – don’t put a deposit down on anything you’re not 100% set on before you create your budget. Again, it is okay to talk with vendors to get an idea of what their pricing is but be upfront with them that you’re just gathering information and that you’ll let them know as soon as you can (and then please do!).
I hope this has been helpful and if you have any questions or want to chat about hiring me as your wedding planner – shoot me an email firstname.lastname@example.org – I’d love to hear from you!