One of the most daunting tasks about wedding planning is coming up with your overall budget, figuring out how much everything costs, and then sticking to those numbers! If you don't have a planner to do this for you, then we have all the tips and tricks for you to get started.
1. Research what the average cost of a wedding in the city you plan to get married in is, then compare that to what your personal number is. For example, for a 150 person wedding in the greater Austin area the average cost of a wedding is: $30,000-$37,000. This number will obviously increase or decrease based on your specifications for your wedding but it will at least get you started on the overall big picture budget!
2. Make a list of vendors that you need to book: Venue, Caterer, Florist, Band/DJ, Dessert, Florist, etc.
3. Create an excel spreadsheet to keep track of all your vendors, their quotes, your deposits, and what you still need to pay and on what dates. This will help tremendously on how well you're doing from a numbers perspective but also how you are doing on getting your vendors booked!
4. The first vendor you should book is your venue! This is so important because it will get what is one of your biggest budget suckers out of the way and allow you to finally have a date! Once you have a date, reaching out and talking to additional vendors will be easy because you'll be able to tell them when you need their services and at what location.
5. After your book your venue, we now suggest creating a list of your non-negotiable special items for your wedding before you look into the basic vendors you need no matter what. We believe that when you budget for those special items first, you can easily cut corners to make that happen. For example, if you know that you want to do custom invitations, an open bar, and a live band start with that first just to get an idea of what those will cost so you know what other vendors you need to cut corners on! We all have details for our weddings that we MUST have and what better way than to start with those first to see how much money you have left over for the other items.
6. Decide on a color scheme for your invitations, florals, your bridesmaid's dresses and groomsmen suits. This seems like a detail that can be left alone for a while but it's actually quite important because a lot of what your vendors might need are color schemes, especially but not limited to, your florist! If you aren't big on florals and don't want to spend a copious amount on that, be sure to ask your potential florist how they can reuse or utilize the arrangements they put together for different parts of your wedding. For example, when your bridesmaids are done with their bouquets after the ceremony, use them for centerpieces for your tables!
7. Make sure you account for all the small details when budgeting. For example, if you buy "asking gifts" for your bridesmaids or thank you gifts for the day of, put that on your spreadsheet as those add up!
8. Always account for tips -- not all vendors need to be tipped but it is customary to tip certain vendors. As you get quotes back and book those vendors, put a line item under it or next to it on your spreadsheet with what you expect the tip amount to be based on the booked price so that doesn't come as a surprise on the week of the wedding!
9. Keep your eye on hidden costs and extras from your vendors. Make sure you are asking about overtime costs, service fees, or if your trials cost money. So often couples are caught off guard when they get slapped with a fee they were unaware of especially last minute! Always read through the contracts and make sure that you are asking if you should add on time, or need an extra service up front just in case.
10. Figure out who, if anyone, is contributing to your overall wedding expenses and try to do that first when setting up your spreadsheet! Talking to family about money is difficult and at times awkward but having the conversation up front will not only help with your overall expectations but also what you know you'll get help with and what you won't! This will allow you to allocate your budget effectively but also responsibly!
Our biggest and we think most important tip is to remember, don't go into debt over this wedding! Make sure you are thinking beyond your big day and remember that some of those fine and expensive details aren't as important as your life together after the wedding day! And remember it is not how much money you spend on this wedding but how you feel about your future partner and how much joy you will feel on the day of and all the days after your wedding!