That feeling of mutual commitment with the one you love, who’s now your ‘fiancé’ – yay! – is the most heady and divine feeling.
Often we see couples overlook the beauty and significance of their engagement period as they dive headlong into full blown wedding planning bridezilla mode. So do take some time to enjoy and acknowledge this special phase of your relationship.
Then once you’re ready to come back to Earth to start planning the nitty gritty, know you’re going to need to put on your big-girl and big-boy pants, and roll up your sleeves in preparation for some hard work (especially when it comes to budgeting for your wedding).
Maybe set the scene and open one of those lush bottles of champagne you received as an engagement gift for a tipple of liquid courage.
Because in case you didn’t already know – newsflash! – the average wedding cost in the UK is on the increase. And unfortunately, even the DIY Pinterest wedding you may secretly have been piecing together for the last three years actually does not come cheap.
With that being said, the cost of your wedding shouldn’t leave you stretched, because if you ask us, no wedding is worth jeopardizing the financial stability of a new marriage. It is possible to start your married life off positively by having the important conversations and carefully plan ahead. And when we say plan, we mean create a budget for your plans and follow it to the letter (or rather, the number)!
The good news is, budgeting for your wedding doesn’t mean you have to have a budget wedding. You can have your wedding cake and, ahem, eat it too!
To start with, answer these fundamentally important questions which, for some of you, may involve challenging conversations between the two of you and family (depending on whether you’re following traditional convention on wedding spending and planning).
Who is paying for the wedding?
How are the person(s) paying?
How much are you willing to spend in total?
Once you’re clear on this, it’s time to start breaking down the numbers. Whether you’re using a wedding budget spreadsheet (see attached the guide we’ve put together especially for you), an online wedding planning tool, or a simple notebook for your ‘to do’s’ and outgoings, the most important thing is to keep track of everything.
How To Make A Budget For Your Wedding
Categorise expenses and items
Organise your wedding expenses into categories, for example catering, transport, accommodation, beauty, bridal etc., and list everything within these categories that is going to cost you money. Although it may seem like an unnecessary addition but if you’re planning on spending £20 on a quick eyebrow wax the week before the big day, include it in your expense projections, because those few bits here and there soon add up! If you want, you can also list the things that you can do yourself or that you can receive for free if you want to keep them all listed in the same place.
Research, research, research
Honestly, Google is your friend! Do what you can to research online about various costs and options, particularly from potential suppliers. If they don’t list fees online, then get on the phone and be sure to ask soon after the initial enquiry conversation. It may sound blunt to talk money so early on (and we British never like to be rude) but there’s simply no point getting all the way down the line of a potential service only to be told the cost is way beyond what you initially realised. Whilst you’re at it, do your best to ask around and speak to friends and family who’ve recently been married and ask for their tips on suppliers and potential savings.
List out your spending estimates
Create a column for the estimate spend (based on your ongoing research), a column for your max spend, and a column for the actual spend. Then as you go back in and complete your columns in real time, be sure to adjust your total amounts as a result of your actual spend.
Prioritise what’s most important to you
For example, if food is your jam but you couldn’t care less if the music is live or streamed via bluetooth, then allocate where you can splurge and where you can save.
Keep a paper trail
If you’re spreading the planning over months and months, it can be easy to make payments here and there for items without giving it too much thought. Beware as this can be dangerous, and see you very quickly reaching your upper limits without even realising! So you’ll want to keep a very accurate record of payments due, and receipts for everything you’ve spent so far.
Do not go over budget
Remember that you set your budget and maximum spending limit for a reason, and do your best not to go over it. Of course there may be times where you simply have to, for example increased alcohol costs etc, but if you’re simply saying yes to every cost presented without careful thought (and even maybe some negotiating where appropriate) then you’re going to quickly exceed your limits.
Put in a little buffer
Ok so this point seems contradictory to the previous point about not going over budget. But let’s be real, as strict as you might be with your spending, there will be things that happen outside of your control. Allow for a 10-15% buffer in your budget as a contingency for the inevitable overspend. But remember, this buffer does not mean you can go out and say yes to the dress that’s 15% more than you budgeted for.
It really is easy to get caught up in the excitement as you start to dream big. So to help avoid a crushing disappoint of realising all too late that your once low-key wedding has quickly become an extravagant affair for all the wrong reasons, follow these guidelines and try your best to follow the budget you set.
And if you can’t afford the Pinterest image, that’s ok! Remind yourselves there is no reason a wedding can’t be beautiful and meaningful at any price tag. After all, the most important thing is the two of you having the opportunity to say “I Do” in front of your loved ones.