3 Steps to Creating a Wedding Budget

Estimate Savings From All Sources

Though creating a wedding budget can seem like a daunting task, in reality a wedding budget is simply a math equation. To determine how much you can realistically afford, start by figuring out what you can comfortably save on a monthly basis. Multiply this amount by the months you have until your wedding and you'll have a baseline number for your total wedding budget. When it comes to creating a wedding budget, the farther in advance you can plan, the better. Not only does advance planning give you additional time to save, it also gives you time to adapt to any months when you might fall short of your savings goal.

When planning your budget, don't forget to include contributions from all sources. Although the bride's family is no longer usually expected to foot the bill for the entire wedding, parents often kick in to their child's wedding. Grandparents and other family members are also possible contributors. While it can be uncomfortable to ask what, if anything, others may plan on giving you for your wedding, you'll need that figure to come up with an accurate budget.
 

Create a Budget Template

No two weddings are identical, but there are definitely patterns as to how much couples spend in certain wedding categories. For example, you might expect to spend 5 to 10 percent of your wedding budget on a dress, veil and accessories, and 45 to 50 percent on the reception site and food. Find a template from a reputable wedding source, such as a well-regarded wedding planner, and use it as a basis for starting your budget. "Couples come to me all the time having forgotten key wedding elements in their budget," says Amanda Tirol, owner of Boracay Weddings and Events and international event planner. "They usually have an idea what they want to spend on food and drink, for example, but often overlook items such as tips for wait staff, or transportation expenses." Once you nail down all the categories used in a traditional wedding, allocate your projected savings based on the percentages in your budget template.

Prioritize Your Spending

Since you're likely to want a personalized wedding ceremony, you'll have to tweak the percentages in your budget template. "Priorities are different from couple to couple," Tirol notes. "You may want to spend the bulk of your money on photography, while another couple might find flowers more important." Come to an agreement over what is most important to you as a couple, but don't overdo it. Your percentages must still add up to 100 at the end of the day, no matter how much you want to spend on gifts for your entourage or entertainment at the ceremony. While you can reduce or even eliminate certain categories from your template, trimming your budget too much can create problems. You'd probably want to avoid paying too much for invitations, for example, if it would translate to short-changing your guests on food or comfort at your celebration.

Considerations

While setting an appropriate budget is an important step in your wedding preparations, it is only a road map. No matter how well you plan, surprises will pop up. Realize that it's human nature to under-budget, and be flexible when it comes to cost overruns. As costs rise, having a budget will prove extremely useful, as it will point out in black and white where the hemorrhage is occurring. You can use your budget as a warning sign to either rein in expenses or shift budget amounts from another category. However, none of this will be effective if you don't put in the time to make a realistic budget in the first place. Work hard at the steps to create your wedding budget and it will pay dividends throughout the wedding planning process.

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