UntitledThat’s right. It’s time to tackle the dreaded issue of planning out your wedding budget! This is often a bride or groom’s least favorite topic because it means having to get real with the expenses of your wedding and look at the hard figures that will surely impact your finances for the first years of your lives together as a married couple. This makes this a topic all the more important to talk about early and often!

Your parents, wedding planner and vendors will all want to know more about your budget as well to help keep you on track while bringing your vision to life. Because of this, you will want to layout your wedding budget (in as much detail as possible) before you make any major wedding decisions that involve spending money.

Let’s look at the first 5 steps you should take to determine an appropriate wedding budget and get a grasp on spending before it spirals out of control…

Determine your real bottom line

There will be many different pieces that make up a part of your wedding budget, but at the end of the day, they must all fit into your bottom line. So what’s your real “do not exceed” number? Don’t guess, pick something that sounds nice or use what someone tells you is “standard.”

Rather, get honest with your soon-to-be spouse, parents, grandparents and whoever else might be willing to contribute financially to your special day. Long gone are the days when it was traditional for a bride’s family to foot the entire bill. Now more than ever, we see everyone chipping in! Don’t be shy, but do be grateful. Have the “budget” talk early and let’s get moving on to the next step!

Research the average costs of things

Now with a bottom line in place, you will need to further break down your budget into the major sections of your wedding spending (i.e. dress, venue, food and honeymoon). This is another area where merely estimating will not do you any favors. Get familiar with what things really cost first.

For example, what is the starting price of a wedding photography package in your area? How much do your local salons charge for a wedding up-do? Call around and ask. If you’re sticker shocked, you can then make the decision to ask a family or friend to help with some of these tasks, or prioritize your expenses to make room for this chunk of change. This leads us to our next step…

Prioritize your expenses

Wedding budgets can have many, many categories – including categories that are completely irrelevant to your vision for your big day. For example, renting a limo to cart around your wedding party may seem like an unnecessary expense compared to putting that extra money toward your dream dress.

Go ahead and do some research online which will give you the standard list of wedding spending categories, then work to weed out the areas in which you don’t intend to spend money. What SHOULD be priority? Most wedding experts agree, don’t skimp on the food! Keep your guests full and happy and the rest of the night will be fun no matter what!

Develop and organized way to track and plan spending

Next, select a system that will help you to stay organized and allow you to easily track all of your spending. It’s those little shopping trips that cost your $25 here and $50 there that really add up. Try to account for every single dollar that is spent on something wedding-related and deduct that from your bottom line.

There are countless phone apps, websites and pre-formatted spreadsheets that exist to help you do exactly this. Do a little surfing and find one with a style and organizational format that fits your personality. Then stick to it—hold yourself and your soon-to-be-spouse accountable by reconciling that day’s expenses each evening.

Leave room for unexpected and incidental items

Finally and most importantly, you will need to leave some wiggle room in your budget for those unexpected and unforeseen expenses. They happen!

Are they calling for rain? Is your first choice for a dress backordered? Did you mess up some of your invitations and to print more? Fixing any of these various “wedding woes” all come with an additional price tag. Be smart and rather than planning out the spending of every last dime you have in your budget from the start, allow for some money to “stay in the bank” for just such an occasion. If all goes right and you’re left with some leftover cash—use it toward your honey moon!

Are you working with your own wedding budget right now? Ask a question and one of our event planning experts will gladly answer!

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