How to Get Started on Creating a Wedding Budget You Can Afford
Once you’ve finished basking in the glow of engagement, you’ll find it very hard to get anything accomplished without a detailed wedding budget. This will give you an outline of what you should spend on each item, so as to ensure you don’t spend more than you intend to overall. Here’s how to create a wedding budget that you can afford.
Who’s Paying for the Wedding
Although tradition says that the bride’s parents pay for the whole thing, this is frequently untrue for today’s couples. If you can pay for the whole shebang yourselves, you’ve got it easy. If you want your families to help you out, or pay for it all, you should have a frank discussion with them about it. You might say something like “Fiancé and I are starting to plan our wedding, and we wanted to ask you if you might help pay for it.” You should be prepared for questions, such as “How much do you think the whole thing will cost” and some other questions that you might not know the answer to. You can say that the average wedding cost now is about $25,000, but that you’ll base your wedding budget on what is available to you.
There are several options:
- Parents can say that they are contributing a specific dollar amount, and then the couple decides on a wedding budget and makes up any difference themselves.
- Parents can say that they want to pay for specific items such as the bride’s attire, the rehearsal dinner or the catering. The couple then has to figure out how to pay for everything else.
- The couple can set a budget and then ask to split it evenly. This is particularly a good solution for divided families. For example, the couple, the mother of the bride, the father of the bride, and the groom’s parents will each contribute $5000, for a total of a $20,000 wedding budget.
How Much Do You Really Need?
Depending on your area, budgeting about $100 per wedding guest will give you a good start. This allows for $50 a head for catering, and the remaining $50 goes towards everything else – flowers, attire, etc. Of course, if you are only having 10 guests, you may have trouble paying for everything else with only $500, but it is a good starting point. This starting point fits with the general rule of the more guests, the more formal and lavish the wedding. It is also certainly possible to throw a wedding on a shoestring- there was a couple whose entire wedding budget was only $700!
Figuring Out a Basic Wedding Budget
Start off by using a wedding budget planning worksheet to figure out the basics. If you already know some of the costs, such as the hall rental, put in the actual numbers, and adjust the other numbers to make up for it. You can ask other brides who have gotten married in your area what they spent on vendors to figure out if these numbers are realistic, or need to be adjusted.
Making Room for What Matters in Your Wedding
Budget. Prioritize what’s important to you, choosing 2 to3 “most important” items. You may decide that you want to have an amazing photographer, but you’re happy to hunt for a bargain on the dress. If you’re having a small wedding, your catering bill won’t be as big a percentage of the budget. You can adjust your budget numbers to reflect your priorities.
Ways to Save on Your Wedding Budget
Start by looking through the budget and crossing off anything that you don’t need. For example if you’re having both the ceremony and reception at one location, you might not need to include transportation. Use your contacts. Don’t be afraid to ask recently married friends who they used and what they paid. Ask friends in the wedding industry to help you out, and give you a discount if possible. If the numbers still aren’t working out, ask yourself what’s really important to you. Perhaps it’s better to have a small wedding now, and then renew your wedding vows in five or ten years when you can save for the big party.
Once you’ve set a budget, stick to it. Easier said than done, but an important thing to do.
Your Wedding Budget Worksheet
Location fee, officiant fee, marriage license, musician’s fees, ring pillows
*3% **______ ***______
Reception Site, Food, Drinks, Rentals, Cake, Favors
48% ______ ______
Dress, Headpiece/veil, undergarments and hosiery, shoes, accessories, jewelry, hair and makeup, Groom’s Tuxedo or Suit, shoes, bow tie, cuff links, studs, suspenders
10% ______ ______
His and her rings, engraving
3% ______ ______
Ceremony, bride’s bouquet, maid-of-honor and bridesmaid bouquets, corsages and boutonnieres, centerpieces, flowergirl basket
8% ______ ______
Ceremony Musicians, Band and/or DJ, cocktail hour musicians, sound system rental
8% ______ ______
Photographer and Videographer’s fees, albums, additional prints, disposable cameras for candids
12% ______ ______
Transportation for wedding party, guest shuttle and/or parking attendants
2% ______ ______
Invitations, response cards, thank you notes, postage, calligraphy, guest book
3% ______ ______
Bridesmaid and groomsmen, parents, welcome baskets for
3% ______ ______
*% of total budget, **estimate, ***actually spent
Six to Twelve Months:
 Wedding Coordinator
 Decide type of wedding
 Choose location for ceremony
 Choose attendants (alternate attendants)
 Select gown, veil and accessories
 Purchase undergarments to be worn with wedding gown. (You’ll want to wear these at each fitting.)
 Select attendants; gowns
 Start to work on your guest list (divide 3 ways between bride/groom/parents)1/3 Bride and Groom 1/3 to Brides Parents 1/3 Grooms Parents
 Select reception site
 Start to plan reception
 Reserve Caterer
 Reserve Baker
 Select men’s formalwear
 Select photographer
 Select videographer
 Select and reserve florist
 Select places for bridal registry
 Select music for wedding ceremony(soloists and special musicians)
 Select music for reception
 Start developing your honeymoon plans
 Arrange lodging for out of town guests
 If you need passports for honeymoon, order now
 Reserve Makeup artist
 Reserve Hair Stylist
 Set up appointment with attorney if drawing up a pre-nuptial agreement
 Order invitations, personal stationary and wedding programs
 Mail Save the Date cards
 Finalize honeymoon reservations/plans
 Design maps to be inserted in invitations (wedding/reception)
 Select/make ring cushion
 Reserve Limo/transportation for Bridal Party
 Reserve make-up artist and hair stylist
 Mothers select dresses/gowns.
 Schedule attendant’s fittings.
 Bride/Groom get physical check ups/any blood tests.
 Order wedding cake, accessories, and favors(top for cake, knife and server. Have engraved.) Order groom’s cake.
 Address wedding invitations.
 Reserve Limo/transportation for Bridal Party.
 Mail wedding invitations
 If placing announcements with newspapers, check deadlines
 Select attendants gifts.
 Purchase wedding rings, have sized. Order engraving.
 Reserve rental items necessary
 Rental shop____________________________________________
 Arrange parking attendants if necessary.
 Purchase Bride and Groom’s gifts to each other.
 Plan a special day with your fiancé to get marriage license.(In Colorado license is good for 30 days.) Then go have lunch!
 Have formal wedding portrait taken. (A lot of brides do this at the church prior to the ceremony. It’s also a good dress rehearsal to try out your hair style, makeup and practice walking in your dress.)
 Arrange for ice sculptures (if caterer/hotel isn’t handling.)
 Confirm honeymoon reservations. Check luggage. (Do you need any new pieces?)
 Arrange for final fitting of your gown. (Be sure to take undergarments for this fitting.)
 Remind bridesmaids of final gown fittings. (Attendants should have their shoes and any special undergarments necessary with them for this fitting.)
 Double check attire and accessories for all members of the wedding party. (Be sure that any shoes or special accessories that may have been ordered are in. If shoes are being dyed, be sure attendants order them in advance so correct color is sent. Have all attendants wear shoes to break them in and scuff up bottoms so they won’t slip on carpet when walking down the aisle. Bride should also break in shoes.)
 Check to be sure that all the men’s shirt studs are the same.
 If having your hair done for the wedding, try out any new styles now. Take your veil/hair piece with you.
 Record wedding gifts as you receive them and keep up with your thank you notes.
 Confirm time & date of rehearsal with all members of your wedding party.
 Groom/parents confirm reservations for rehearsal dinner.
 Review receptions eating plans and prepare place cards is desired.
 Complete trousseau shopping.
 Schedule hair/nail appointments.
 Arrange for changing your name and address on bank account, credit cards, driver’s license, social security.
 Final consultations with coordinator, caterer, florist, musicians and photographers.
 Give final guest count to reception facility or caterer Make final payments.
 Host bridesmaid’s brunch/luncheon:
 Begin packing for honeymoon.
RELAX AND GET PLENTY OF REST….IT’S TIME TO ENJOY!
THE DAY OF THE WEDDING
- Eat something before the wedding.
- Have finger food and beverages available in both Bride’s and Groom’s dressing rooms for wedding party. It’s a good idea to have also have hard candy available.
- Eat something at the reception.
- Have the attendants put makeup on before they arrive at the church/wedding site to dress.
- Bride..make up at home or arrange to have makeup artist at wedding site. If having hair done prior to arriving at wedding site, wear a button shirt so you won’t have to put it over your head.
Who pays for what?
- Traditionally pays for wedding ceremony and reception.
- Contemporary: everyone contributes.
- Wedding Consultant/coordinator
- Wedding dress, veil, accessories
- Invitation, announcements, enclosures, personal stationery, stamps.
- Trousseau and lingerie
- Bouquets/corsages for attendants and bride
- Flowers for ceremony and reception site
- Rental fee for church or chapel.
- Engagement and wedding photographs.
- Fees for sexton, organist or soloists.
- Rental fees for aisle carpet and other equipment.
- Transportation of bridal party to the ceremony and reception sites.
- Complete receptions. All food, beverages, music, decorations, gratuities, and other services.
- Grooms ring.
- Wedding gift for groom
- Gifts for the bride’s attendants.
- Hotel lodging for any attendants and friends from out-of-town.
- Gratuities to parking attendants.
- Bridesmaid’s luncheon.
- Corsages for mothers, grandparents, special guests.
Groom/family pays for:
- Brides engagement/wedding rings.
- Marriage License.
- Ceremony official’s fee (many times the bride’s family will pay this as well.)
- (Going-away corsage for the bride if leaving directly on their honeymoon.)
- Wedding gift for bride.
- Gifts for best man and ushers
- Wedding night suite
- Rehearsal dinner
- Blood tests
- Gloves, ties, and ascots for men in wedding party.
Attendants pay for:
- Personal wedding attire.
- Personal traveling expenses.
- Personal hotel expenses
Wedding Ceremony Music
Comments from a Bride
I believe one of the last things I did while I was doing my wedding planning was to come up with a list of wedding ceremony songs that I wanted to use. This isn’t because it wasn’t very important to me, or that I had forgotten about it until the last minute, I just didn’t know much about the songs typically played in weddings, and I was sure which songs I wanted to have sung as specials during the wedding either. I believe I literally met with the guitarist and the couple doing the specials probably about two days before the wedding to go over the wedding ceremony songs that I wanted. If you are working on picking out your wedding ceremony songs and need some help, then here are the main times in your wedding ceremony that you’ll need to have wedding ceremony songs picked out for, and what I did for each area.
Wedding Ceremony Songs for the Guest’s Entrance
About half an hour before the wedding ceremony was to begin, we asked the guitarist to play wedding ceremony songs that were classic love songs, such as “You are so Beautiful”, and “The Way You Look Tonight”. I didn’t go through with him to pick out every one of those wedding ceremony songs because if you think about it, there are a lot of songs that fit into a thirty minute time frame. So I gave him some of my favorites, and he played those plus others that were well liked as well.
Wedding Ceremony Songs for the Seating of the Parents and Grandparents
After all the guests are seated and it is time for the wedding ceremony to begin, you’ll want to have a noticeable silence, and then head into the wedding ceremony song you have chosen for the seating of the parents and the grandparents. The reason for the silence, and then the song is to let the guests know that the wedding ceremony has begun. There are lots of great wedding ceremony songs for this, and I chose to use “On Wings of Song” by Felix Mendelssohn. It’s beautiful. This song was also re-played while my husband and I lit the unity candle and prayed together on a prayer bench we had set up.
Wedding Ceremony Songs for the Processional
Once the parents and grandparents are seated, then you will want to have a wedding ceremony song chosen for the entrance of the groom and his groomsmen, and the bridesmaids. Perhaps the most popular wedding ceremony song for a processional is the “Canon in D” by Johann Pachelbel, which is what we used as well. It’s a classic.
Wedding Ceremony Songs for the Entrance of the Bride
Now, typically most brides want to enter in to the Bridal Chorus, which is the traditional music brides walk down the aisle to. There are many couples I know though, who prefer to walk the aisle to another song, such as “Someday my Prince will Come”, or other such songs, and there is nothing wrong with it. The same goes for the recessional. You can go with the traditional “Wedding March” like I did, or choose your own song.
Wedding Ceremony Songs for Specials
One thing I really wanted to have in our wedding ceremony was specials sung by friends of mine in the church. They sing beautifully together, and they had a CD written and performed by friends of theirs that were Christian love songs, beautiful and one of a kind. I listened to the CD, and then asked them to perform my favorite songs. So we had two specials in our wedding ceremony, to the songs of “I Delighted in the Lord (and He gave me you)”, and “With all my Heart”.
Going through the list of wedding ceremony songs to use for your wedding can be daunting, because there are a lot of them out there. Luckily, I had a guitarist who was excellent and knowledgeable about what kinds of songs are typically used in weddings, and he could play all of them, and friends who also knew a lot about music, and had the patience to go through and play all of the different wedding ceremony songs for me. Your wedding ceremony songs really help to set the mood for your wedding ceremony, and I was so thankful to have such great help with that!