The Best Way to Budget for a Wedding

Are you in the process of planning your wedding, but you’re facing a variety of financial challenges and beginning to wonder if you’ve made some mistakes with your budget?

There is no one right way to budget for your wedding, but you can implement some strategies to maintain control over your financial situation and feel good about the wedding purchases you make. Even if you’ve made some financial mistakes in the planning process already, you can still get (and stay) on track with a wedding budget that works for your big day.

  1. Know the Total Cost

According to The Knot, the average wedding in the United States now costs over $35,000. If you’re just sitting down to plan your wedding budget, the easiest way to figure out what you can spend on each aspect of the event is to know the total amount of money you are willing and able to spend, then use one of countless guides to direct you into about what percentage of the budget you should allocate to each piece of the puzzle.

For example, if you have a $20,000 budget, you should plan to spend around $3,600 of that on food alone (approximately 18 percent). If you want to splurge on a high-end menu, you’ll need to find ways to shave down costs in other areas to compensate and stick to your budget.

  1. Watch for Unexpected Costs

While you should be looking toward the big picture with each purchase you make, if you only focus on the major expenses, you may overlook the small costs and unexpected expenses that can really add up. For example, you may have budgeted for all that wedding stationary, but did you remember the stamps?

Huffington Post shares a great article on 30 unexpected wedding costs to watch out for, like the cost of a personal trainer or weight loss program to shed those extra pounds before the ceremony, but also keep a close eye on the fine print with all your vendors. There may be fees, like cake-cutting costs or set-up fees, that you can negotiate or easily eliminate from your contracts.

  1. Think About Others

Your wedding budget directly affects people other than you — your fiance being the first and most important person to consider, followed closely by your bridal party. You may not have a problem spending $50,000 on your wedding day, but you don’t want to spend the next six months bickering with your soon-to-be husband about every expense, either.

The budget you set will impact your wedding party, too; if you expect every one of your girls to order a custom bridesmaid dress because you’ve chosen a super-fancy venue for the reception, it might not be fair to also expect them to pay for professional hair and makeup services. While this is your special day, you don’t want to alienate the people closest to you because you wouldn’t listen to their financial concerns.

  1. Create a Budget Worksheet

One of the biggest mistakes you can make is spending without tracking each dollar that leaves your bank account, and with endless free resources available online from simple expense tracker templates to more interactive apps, there’s little excuse for not keeping your mind on your money.

Again, it’s important to remember that it’s okay to go over budget in some areas once you start planning and learning exactly what you want and what it costs to get it; what’s not okay is never scaling back in any other part of your budget to make up for the added costs. Staying organized will help you balance your budget as you get further into the planning process.

  1. Don’t Overdo it on DIY

In the era of Pinterest, more and more brides are falling victim to the spending pit that is the craft world. Just because someone who knew what they were doing made it look easy online does not mean you should give it the old college try for your big event (although, it could make for a hilarious Pinterest fail story to tell down the road).

In addition to the time you’ll have to spend doing all this DIY-ing, the cost of materials are often no cheaper than just ordering the product from someone who knows what they’re doing. Etsy is full of talented crafters ready to help make your wedding details extra special.

Planning a wedding is every bit as time-consuming and detailed-oriented as it sounds, but it’s also a lot of fun. Unfortunately, it’s easy to get carried away in the excitement and overspend if you aren’t carefully tracking all the expenses of your event as early in the planning process as possible.

What budgeting tips helped you to plan your wedding without breaking the bank? Share your cost-saving strategies with other brides in the comments below.

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