One of the scariest things about planning a wedding is money. Having enough, figuring out what to spend it on, how much to spend on what, and most importantly, when to stop spending. A wedding budget is a tricky thing that is different for every bride and groom and there are a lot of budgeting mistakes to be made.
Today’s blog post, I am going to share some of the budgeting mistakes I made when planning my own wedding. Everything worked out in the end, there are just a few things I would do differently looking back!
The most important piece of advice I have about budgeting for a wedding is: Cost = Guest List. What I mean by that is, the bigger your guest list, the more the wedding is going to cost. That is one thing that will be true for every bride and groom. There are many things that depend on the guest count. Venues often have limits and the bigger the venue, the more it will cost. Rental fees will increase with every guest because everyone needs a chair for the ceremony, and a spot to eat dinner. Speaking of dinner, your food cost will go up with every single person you invite. Same goes for the bar!
Just to be clear, I am not trying to scare you away from inviting everyone. My husband and I invited over 300 people to our wedding! We just realized early on that it would directly affect how we budgeted for the wedding. We set aside a large portion of our budget for food and drinks. Because, for a guest, that is one of the best parts of the wedding!
Do you dream of having a $10,000 flower wonderland at your wedding, but only have a $20,000 budget? Maybe look at limiting your guest list to save costs overall!
When I started planning my wedding, I immediately downloaded a wedding budget template for excel. I knew what our budget was and what we wanted to spend it on. However, nothing could have prepared me for the shock of all the last minute payments we needed to make! There is a lot that can be paid for before a wedding, however a few of the vendors often have payments due a few weeks before the big day. At first I saw this as convenient! I could pay a deposit now and not worry about the rest until closer to the wedding. To my surprise, that last 30 days was full of writing large checks to settle all my vendor bills. Between the venue charge, service fees, the food bill, and the photographer, my wedding fund emptied really quickly.
If I could do it again, I would have keep those large payments in mind from the beginning. There are a few things you can do to lessen the shock of the 30 day final payments. When you are budgeting for your wedding, ask your bigger vendors if you can pay in installments. That way, the 30 day mark does not come as such a shock. You could also set that money aside right away. If it is already removed from the wedding fund, you will have a better idea of how much you can spend on other planning.
Above all else, make sure you have the money to pay your vendors the final amounts. Like I said, I had my budget planned out from the beginning. So, even though it hurt, I had all the funds needed to pay my vendors. These vendors make your wedding day possible, so they deserve to be paid on time!
This may sound odd, but the biggest wedding budgeting mistake I made had nothing to do with my wedding day. Wait… what? Let’s try that again. The biggest budgeting mistake was that I did not budget for everything that happens between the engagement and the wedding day, and even after you are married.
Here are some non-wedding day expenses to give you some examples; parent and bridal party gifts, beauty prep for the bride and groom, outfits for pre-wedding celebrations, marriage license, postage, alterations, etc. The list goes on and on! These are all things I overlooked when I made my initial budget. I never thought to budget for my manicure/pedicure, or my groom’s haircuts. Or that sending invites and thank you’s would cost so much in postage! All of these additional costs will start to add up quickly…
Thankfully, there are ways to save and plan for all of these expenses! Before you make your wedding budget, make a list of everything you will need to spend money on between now and your wedding day. There are a few things that will be a fixed cost and you can’t save any money, including the marriage license. However, you can save money almost everywhere else! Keep family and bridal party gifts small but thoughtful, buy a dress close to your size to save on alterations, and dig through your closet to find something you already own to wear to your bridal shower! All of these expenses become much more manageable if you budget and save for them early.
Do you remember what I said earlier? Food is one of the best parts of being a wedding guest! However, food is also one of the biggest budgeting challenges. First you have to find a venue, then work out the caterer, decide on plated or buffet, and taste-test the options! After all those decision are made, don’t forget about all the extra costs.
First of all, when you do your food head count, do not forget your vendors, your wedding party, or even yourself! The bride and groom (typically) don’t get to eat for free! Mark yourself and a plus one for your wedding day to make sure you and your groom/bride get to eat! Next, ask your venue/caterer about the service fees, taxes, and tips that come with feeding your guests. This was a large number for my wedding because of our guest list. No matter how many times I did the calculations, I could not believe how much these extra charges were! Make sure you communicate early and well with your vendors to avoid any unplanned costs.
Budgeting is important and will keep you on track throughout your wedding planning process. However, don’t let it overshadow what is truly important. Whether you are getting married at the courthouse, or spending $50,000 on your dream wedding, your wedding day is about one thing, getting married. That won’t change no matter how well you manage budget mistakes.
Need to cross a few more things off of your to-do list? Check out my other wedding tips!
Alecs Kay Photography is a Wedding & Portrait Photographer in Fargo, ND