When it comes to working out a wedding budget for your big day, there are more than a few [potentially conflicting] factors to consider: the items or services you want, the amount you're willing to spend on them, and their actual cost! If you've been dreading your wedding cost calculations, the following steps can help you and the groom tackle your budget head-on.
1. Schedule some time for both you and the groom to sit down and draft up your budget. Remember: there's no such thing as "too early" when it comes to planning out your wedding costs - the earlier you get started, the more options will be available to you, and the fewer last minute "convenience costs" you'll have to pay.
2. When you and the groom both have a few hours set aside, begin by preparing a chart with three columns and about 30 rows. Label the first column, "Wedding Item or Service"; the second column, "Willing to Spend"; and the third column, "Actual Cost."
3. In the rows beneath "Wedding Item or Service", write down all of the things that require payment for your wedding in the order they're required. For example, start with items and services you'll need before the wedding, such as wedding invitations, announcements, postage stamps, the bridal gown, and the groom's tuxedo. Continue with items and services that will be required as you get closer to the wedding date, such as the rehearsal dinner, pre-wedding thank you gifts for the bridesmaids and groomsmen, and pre-wedding gifts exchanged between the bride and groom.
4. Since the items and services for your wedding day will take up most of the budget, break those ones down into the following sub-categories to keep things simple:
5. Move on to post-wedding items and services, such as the wedding party brunch, honeymoon, thank you notes and postage stamps.
6. Once you've written down all of the items and services you can think of, start filling in the respective amounts in the "Willing to Spend" column. This column will probably need to be revised once you gather quotes and get a feel for how much everything costs, so don't worry about filling in the exact dollar amount - even a percentage of your total wedding budget is fine.
7. Start gathering quotes from vendors for items and services and add them to the "Actual Cost" column. Once you have an idea of the actual costs, you can start reallocating some of your budget funds; i.e. if the reception meals turn out to be way more than you anticipated or were initially willing to spend, that will likely mean borrowing from the amount allocated to another item or service.
For ideas on how to make some serious slashes in your wedding budget, check out these articles.
And finally, if all of this budget talk has got you freaked out, you might consider looking into the possibility of hiring a Wedding Planner.
Story by G. Melanson