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How to Set a Wedding Budget

Bride and groom walking into the sunset

How to set a wedding budget

It’s time to start planning your wedding and your head is probably swimming with thoughts of dresses, cake and ceremony locations. While it is fun to be thinking about these items, there is one important thing you need to plan first: the wedding budget.

Setting a budget for your wedding is vital in ensuring the cost doesn’t get out of hand. It is far too easy to break the budget during the planning process without even realising it. The temptation of paying just an extra dollar or two per head here and there is high, but it all adds up in the end.

When setting the budget make sure you are realistic. This means being realistic with what you can afford but also being realistic with the fact that you will most likely go over the planned amount slightly. It’s a good idea to set aside an additional 5% in the budget for this overspend, and if you are lucky enough to not need it then you will have extra money to take with you on honeymoon!

Before you decide on the total budget amount, there is a conversation you need to have first. As awkward as it may feel, you need to work out who is paying for what. If your parents or the future in-laws have mentioned they would like to pay for part of the wedding you will need to find out upfront the amount they are planning to pay. A misunderstanding on who is paying for what could leave you seriously out of pocket down the track so discussing this at the beginning of planning will help you avoid any unexpected costs.

Once the total dollar amount has been agreed, divide the budget into categories. This will give you a clear picture of how much money you have available to spend on each item of the wedding. An example of a typical wedding budget breakdown is as follows:

- 50% on the reception. This includes drinks, cake, decorations and of course meals.

- 20% on photography and outfit. This includes outfits for both bride and groom and all accessories.

- 8% on flowers.

- 8% on music.

- 3% on stationery, including invites and places cards.

- 3% on bomboniere.

- 3% on rings for both the bride and groom.

- 3% on celebrant or Church.

- 2% on transportation.

Wedding dress and flowers

Setting a wedding budget

Dividing your budget into categories as above will help you keep track of, and prioritise, your spending. For example, if you happen to go over budget in one category you will then need to choose another category to take that money from in order to keep the bottom line in check. So is the extra money you want to spend on the wedding meal really worth forgoing the cute bombonieres you had your eye on?

Remembering all the smaller items and details in each category is important in budgeting. For example, if you set aside $2,000 for your wedding dress, bear in mind that this needs to cover shoes and accessories as well as any alterations needed. So you don’t have the entire $2,000 to spend on just the dress itself.

You should also take into account any trials you will need such as hair and makeup or meals at your reception venue when choosing your menu.

Once you start shopping around for quotes you may find that you simply don’t have enough money to pay for your dream wedding. This is a very common problem and the best way to tackle the issue is to try saving money where possible while not compromising the overall effect of the wedding. Here are some tips on how you can do this:

- Hold your wedding on a Sunday or a weekday as the reception venues usually have a deal on these days.

- Serve only beer and wine instead of having an open bar.

- Opt out of dessert and instead serve slices of wedding cake.

- Take the quality versus quantity approach by inviting less people.

If you follow all of these budgeting tips you will be able to start your married life on the right track by being debt free.

Written by Heidi Bolton


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