Planning a Wedding on a Budget

Everyone imagines what their dream wedding would look like, from the food to the décor and everything in between. Many don’t realize until they get to the planning stage that it is the biggest party they’ve ever planned, and it can get expensive quickly. According to Business Insider, the average wedding cost $29,000 before the pandemic.

It’s important to consider the financial impact of having a wedding you can’t afford. No one wants to start their new life with the person they love in debt. In this article, we’re going to look at what costs impact your big day and how you can create a budget to have a wedding you’ll enjoy without breaking the bank. 

What Impacts the Costs of a Wedding?

The average cost of a wedding is almost certainly going to increase in 2022, with everything from food to floral arrangements increasing in price, thanks to inflation. While that’s not a controllable cost, there are other factors that a couple can choose which will increase their total wedding costs. Let’s take a look at a few common ones. 

Number of People Invited: Inviting more or fewer people will significantly impact the total cost of your wedding because it means spending more on food or a larger venue to accommodate those individuals.

Venue: The place you get married could swing your total costs considerably. Choosing a meaningful venue over a popular or location-specific one might be a better choice if you’re trying to cut costs. 

Food/Alcohol: The type of food and caterer you choose also is a considerable cost to the event. Also, make sure you are very clear with any caterer what the expectations are for how much alcohol you’ll be paying for compared to how much will be paid for by your guests. Having an open bar can drive your costs up quite a bit.

Photographer: While making sure your big day is captured perfectly is super important, it also can be done on a budget. 

Attire & Appearance: A bride can spend a lot of money on that perfect wedding dress. This is one area that is hard to cut costs, but it certainly impacts the final number you spend.

Wedding Planner: While a wedding planner can get your celebration off without a hitch, you should ask yourself if your party is big enough to need one. 

Decor: How you decorate your wedding and reception venue can also impact your total costs. Luckily, it’s one of the easier areas to cut costs when needed.

Entertainment: Couples can choose everything from a DJ playing music from their laptop to a full band and everything in between. 

Several other things can add to the total costs of your wedding, from the floral arrangements to your mode of transportation. So many things can take your attention and money. If you don’t have a budget in place and actively stick to it, it could be challenging to get through your wedding without going into debt. 

How to Build Your Wedding Budget in 7 Steps

A wedding is the first time many couples make large financial decisions together. No one wants to start a marriage in debt, especially because of the financial burden of a wedding. If you’re looking for tips on how to budget as a couple, check out our article on just that. Now let’s look at the steps you can take to build the right budget for your wedding.

Step 1: Determine How Much You Can Afford to Spend

Before even looking at all of the possible things you can spend your money on, it’s important to know how much you can afford to spend. This will help you determine where to allocate your money and ensure that your wedding will be subject to your total budget. 

If anyone is contributing to the wedding, then this is a perfect time to make sure you know how much they can contribute so that you can add it to your total budget. While more and more couples are bearing the financial burden of their wedding, if your parents or anyone else wants to contribute, you need to know now. 

Step 2: Make a List of Everything You Need

To create any budget, you’ll need to be able to separate the “needs” from the “wants.” For example, you need someone to officiate your wedding, but you don’t need to have an open bar for your guests. Creating this list gives you the foundation to build the right budget, and you know exactly what you have to spend money on to make your wedding a reality.

Step 3: Make a List of Everything You Want

Now that you have your list of needs let’s write down the “nice to haves” or the “wants” so that you can pull from this list with any extra budget you end up with. It’s also a good idea to have a list of things you shouldn’t be shopping for until you know there is money in the budget. One of the biggest financial mistakes when planning a wedding is to fall in love with something you can’t afford.

Step 4: Allocate Your Total Budget to Your ‘Need’ Items

Now is the time to write out what your actual budget looks like. This will help you know how much to spend in each area so that you don’t overspend. Try using budgeting software or a spreadsheet to make sure you have a version of your budget that is actionable for you as you begin spending money. 

Step 5: Allocate Money for Surprises

Ensure you have allocated an expense for surprises because your day will certainly have some. For example, if you hire an out-of-town band that doesn’t make their flight or gets stuck on the road somewhere, you’ll need to replace them with a DJ at the last moment. You could also incur additional charges you weren’t expecting at your venue, such as a cleanup fee. 

Step 6: Make it Clear Who is Paying for What

Miscommunication can be a key to increasing your total spend on the wedding. If someone contributes to your wedding financially, they may be opinionated about what they will spend their money on and what they will not. It’s important to know this upfront before money is spent at all. 

Step 7: Shop Around for Your Budgeted Items

Now that you have your budget, it’s time to start shopping around. You shouldn’t just hire the first floral shop or caterer you meet with. Instead, take some time to find the things you’re looking for but at the right price for your budget. The lower your budget is, the longer this might take, but it will be worth it in the end. 

Bottom Line

Having clear communication and a budget before you start spending a dime is key to ensuring you remain debt-free from your big day. Planning a wedding is stressful enough without the burden of spending too much money hanging over your head. Take action sooner rather than later to create the budget for the wedding of your dreams and be financially strong as you begin your new life together.