Congratulations! You're engaged and ready to start preparations for your BEST DAY EVER.
Want to guess what the FIRST step to wedding planning should be? Before picking your venue, your date and gathering inspiration?
If you said building you guest list, you're wrong (although close and you'll see why below). If you said building a budget, you win the metaphorical prize! Now, let's talk about how....
Step 1: Who will be helping fund the wedding expense? Sit down and have a conversation with your parents, fiancé's parents and anyone else you think may want to contribute. Also, decided what is within your means to contribute to your wedding. Have you been saving for some time? How will you save for it?
Step 2: Think about and write down what aspects are most important to you on your wedding day. Are you set on having a Band over a DJ? Is your fiancé insistent on a cigar roller? If your number one is a fantastic photographer, put that at the top of your list to ensure adequate funds are set aside to accommodate that.
Step 3: Please don't rule out a wedding planner. You may look at your budget and think there's no way I can afford one. You may also be surprised when you can. Great wedding planners often are able to aid in saving you money based on their connections with trusted vendors and knowledge of the industry. Sure there are times where hiring a full service planner just doesn't make sense with certain budgets and the client's must haves but having somebody for wedding management (they're all called something different... day-of, week-of, we do Month-of...) is absolutely priceless! You've spent countless hours (250 on average) planning the details of your wedding. Hire a professional to tie up loose ends and ensure your day goes off without a hitch. The week before the wedding is often stressful with last minute things popping up and vendors with questions, save yourself the stress and hire a coordinator!
Step 4: Here is where you should begin that guest list. Not only will building your guest list help when searching for a venue to accommodate the guest count, but should also drive your budget in the right direction. With more guests come higher catering and bar costs.... more tables means more decor and more addresses means more stationary... see where I'm going with this? The easiest way to save is by reeling in your guest list.
Step 5: Once you have that hard budget number, you may allocate it accordingly. As a general guideline, expect to pay around 45-50% on your venue, catering and bar costs.
Photo and Video 12-15%
Wedding attire and Beauty 10%
Expect to pay about 10% if you have a designer and anywhere from $1200 and upwards for a wedding coordinator.
Keep in mind, this is an estimation hence why we're over 100% on the high end-If you opt to have transportation, favors, etc. you'll have to build those elements into the budget as well. Have your wedding bands already been purchased? No. add those in. Also, keep step 2 in mind. Is that high end designer gown a non negotiable for you? If it is and puts you over budget, cut down on something that may not be as important to you. If you take, you must give somewhere else.
Keep track of your spending by making an excel spreadsheet or document with each category and their line items (i.e. under Attire you'll have: dress, alterations, accessories, as well as for your groom), estimated cost, actual cost, additional services and fees, tips, etc. Using the auto sum function on excel you can add things as you go and track what remains.
If this is overwhelming to you, let me tell you that budgeting and building that guest list (which go hand in hand) are two of the most stressful parts of wedding planning. We aid in budget building and allocation with our Full Service Planning and also offer 'in the know' sessions as an a la carte service for hard topics such as this! Let's meet over coffee and we'll share our in depth wisdom with you about budgeting and guest list building including where and how to save, awesome and affordable vendors and even how to ease the burn of cash flowing from your pockets!