I don’t need to tell you that weddings cost a lot of money. The food, flowers, and entertainment alone can leave your wallet feeling empty and your bank account drained. You need to keep a close watch on your expenses throughout the planning or you are likely to spend much more than you anticipated. This is especially important in today’s tough economy. As a wedding planner, the first thing I do when I sit down with a bridal couple is put together a budget. It doesn’t matter if your budget is $5,000 or $50,000, you should still sit down and map out your projected expenses. Then keep track of your actual expenses and compare them with your estimates. Each line item may not match up exactly, but if your bottom line is the same then you and your wallet can breathe a sigh of relief.
How much exactly should you plan on spending on each wedding category? This is going to vary depending on what is most important to you. If you are the type of person that will spend hours pouring over your wedding photos, then you should spend a little more on a great photographer. If you want to dance the night away with all your friends, an excellent DJ or rocking band would be worth the investment. Of course by spending more on one item, you will need to spend slightly less on another thing. It is all about priorities, so decide what yours are. You should work on this step as a couple; you don’t want to have a “spat” with your fiancé because you decided to use 50% of your budget on a designer dress. You can use the percentages I’ve listed here as a starting point.
Your reception will eat up the bulk of your wedding budget. You should designate around 45% of your total budget for this post-nuptial celebration. This figure includes the site fee, rental items (including a tent if your reception is outdoors), food, drinks, wedding cake, and décor. Next, consider designating 12.5% of your budget to hiring a Professional Bridal Consultant. This percentage might be a little higher if you want help with the majority of the planning. It could be a little less if you just want wedding day management. About 8% of your budget should go to the bride’s attire, including dress, veil, shoes, undergarments, jewelry, hair, and makeup. Another 8% is for photography and/or videography. Music and flowers should account for approximately 7% each. Use 4% for invitations and other stationary and 2.5% for wedding bands. These figures leave 6% available for miscellaneous costs such as transportation, the groom’s attire, gifts, accessories, the ceremony fees, and tips.
Once you have a rough outline for your budget it is a good idea to plug the figures into a budget worksheet. Check out the ones at TheKnot.com and also MarthaStewartWeddings.com. I have one I made myself that works well. If you’d like me to send you a copy, just drop me a note. Once your budget is together you can move on to the more exciting aspects of planning your wedding. And you won’t go into debt doing it!
From “I will” until “I do” I’m here for you. See you next time!