We’ve talked in the past about how much a wedding costs, discussed why marriages are so expensive, and gave you tips on how to save money on your big day. But do you really know how to set up your wedding budget? Some couples tear a figure from the sky. Others bury their heads in the sand. And some have a working figure based on what they feel happy to spend, but they never really know if it’s realistic. So today we share our step-by-step guide to develop your wedding budget-and stick with it!
1. Determine How Much You Can Afford To Spend (And How Much You Also Like To Spend!)
This may seem like a simple step, but there are a few things to remember :
- A marriage can be a huge financial cost and the last thing you want is to regret how much you have spent. So before you start, find a figure that you can live with spending on your big day.
- Many newly engaged couples tell us that they have no idea of the cost of a wedding, which is only natural if they have not yet planned a major event. If this is the matter, we recommend you browse our real wedding budgets, which detail what real couples spent on the big day.
- So you have at the bank, but you think you can save by the time you get married? Be realistic about how much you can save in the time you have. While you dive into your account for deposits and expenses throughout the planning, remember that the bulk of the cost only comes at the end.
- If you are planning to take out a personal loan to pay off all or part of your marriage, make sure you shop for a low interest rate loan and the terms you are satisfied with. We started their research for them, and found that before Money currently offers the lowest rate in Ireland of 5.9% APR on loans.*
- If you know that your parents want to contribute to your marriage, try to have the money conversation with them from the beginning. This way you know how much you have to work with, whether you want your money to cover certain items (such as your dress or wine, for example), or whether there are other reservations about your contribution.
2. Shave 12.5% of your total budget
Once you’ve decided how much you can afford to spend on your wedding, no matter how big or small that number is, shave off a heavy contingency.
- generally, we recommend that you set aside 12.5% as a contingency, but if you know that you tend to spend too much, 15% might be more cautious, or if you’re really good at keeping budgets, 10% might do the trick.
- Here is an example to illustrate; let’s say you have to spend on your wedding.
- Take 12.5% as a pension fund, you now have as a working budget. The pension fund serves as support for unforeseen costs, but should not be used for expenses in the first stages of planning.
3. Split your Remaining budget in half
This rule works on the whole for any wedding: divide your working budget in half and that’s the number you need to spend on your place.
- Under this, you must cover your costs for renting the reception location, your food (cocktail hour, main meal, late night snacks) and your wine, cocktails and other drinks.
- This is the number you can take with you to the places when you start inquiring, as well as your price per capita (see below).
- Once you have booked your place, return to your budget and adjust it if necessary, as some places cost more than others, of course. A marquee wedding, for example, has many additional costs, while a hotel location might have extras included in the package.
4. Calculate Your Price Per Head
Now you should have a good idea of who you are inviting to your wedding, but if not, make a guest list and have a realistic number of guests you expect to have in attendance.
- Divide the amount of money you have for your place by the number of guests you expect and you have your price per head.
- Many places quote per capita, so it is very useful to have this number before you start checking the places.
- Remember that room rental, wine, corks or additional menu supplements are not included in the price per person.so if you know that your budget will cover per head, you should look at packages that are per head or less to make this possible.
5. Choose your priorities for the rest of your budget
The remaining 50% of your budget covers everything from flowers and dresses to groups and photographers to ceremony, stationery and transport – all of which can add up pretty quickly! You may or may not decide whether to include your honeymoon in this figure as well.
- Make a list of the things that are most important to you for your wedding, be it style, photography or food. This will not work if too many things are a priority, so try to limit it to one or two elements.
- It is also advisable to note things that are not important to you at all, for example, if you are glad that your bridesmaids choose their own outfits. Keep this list somewhere at hand for reference.
6. Allocate the rest of your budget accordingly (and realistically!)
Divvy out what you expect to spend your remaining 50% on all different providers – our checklist should help you cover everything!
- Instead of guessing the numbers, you get quotes from several different vendors before assigning them a digit (especially for your high priority items).
- Some areas have a specific budget (photography, videography, etc.) and other larger areas (style, entertainment, etc.). By using broader categories, it is easier to make changes after, for example, if you give up the brand shoes in favor of a street pair and use the extra money on epic headpiece.
- When you receive offers from suppliers, ask if VAT, delivery and service feess are included in your offer.
- Remember to consider hidden costs from the start, as they can contribute significantly to your net result. Decorative rents, gifts, fees, tips and even honeymoons often stay within the original budget – find out more about hidden costs here.
7. Stay on budget throughout the planning process
We often hear from couples who say they have lost track of their budget, and others who have completely given up! Not only can this be stressful, but it can spoil the preparation for your wedding while you should be the most relaxed and excited.
- Most couples save for their marriage at the same time while they spend deposits, so it can be difficult to keep track of everything. Get a Google Sheets account, swot on a few basics and try to keep an up-to-date count of incoming money, deposits and outgoing expenses, and balances due at a after date.
- If you realize that you are saving less than expected or spending more than you can afford, solve the problem right away. It will not disappear if you ignore it, in fact the stress will only continue to build up as the date of the wedding approaches!
- Since the deposits are non-refundable, you do not want to book a provider and after realize that you have miscalculated your budget and can no longer afford it. For this reason, we recommend that you book your priority providers first (location, photographers and groups tend to book early) and then move the rest of your bookings throughout your commitment so you can be sure that you can pay them when the big day comes. Our planning plan will help you speed up the pace!