After making the decision to start planning the wedding of the century, reality hit! How are we gonna pay for it all? I always knew my parents would help out, but how much they could contribute was unknown. We also kind of knew how much we could afford to contribute, based on what we’d already got saved, plus what we could save between now and roughly when we wanted to get married. So it was important for us to have a very frank discussion with our parents, to broach the subject of financing the wedding. Without this, we couldn’t start even looking at venues, deciding on guest lists, or thinking about anything else!
We were over the moon when both our parents very generously came through with some funds to help us towards our wedding, and the way things worked out, we ended up putting the same amount in each, so it felt really fair, and also, really inclusive for both sets of parents.
So how did we work out how to allocate our budget to make sure everything was covered? We obviously did a bit of research online to get some rough ideas of where the money goes etc, using sites like The Knot, to guide us in the right direction, but we also wanted to factor in elements of the wedding that were important to us to get right. I have to say, the online tools you can find are really helpful, but remember to use them as a guide, and try not to get too swamped down. At this point, you only want to split the costs down as percentages of your total budget, always considering what you would be happy to pay for each expense, and of course, your own circumstances
For us, the venue was the biggest expense, and I think it’s fair to say that is the case for most couples. You should expect to spend 50% – 60% of your budget for this. When planning a wedding, I think it’s best to keep all the venue costs together, which includes room hire, food costs, drinks etc. We felt it helped doing it that way, rather than splitting each element down because eventually it would all be paid to the same supplier, and you’re in the right mindset for that when you get their bill! Even if you have a separate venue for the wedding and reception, keep them together at this stage of planning. You should also include your marriage licence fees in this.
We wanted to include the honeymoon, and depending on your circumstances, you can decide to include it in your budget or not. We included it, because we knew that we would want to spend more on our honeymoon than a normal holiday, and also considered the gifts given from our guests as a contribution towards this. We allocated around 15% of the budget for this.
The next expense to consider was the outfits, including the wedding dress. This we knew would be a changeable cost, and was very dependent on how much ‘the dress’ was! We hadn’t properly decided how the wedding party was going to be made up, so we considered what we would be happy to spend as a guide. In the end, we spent around 10% of the budget on this.
We allocated the cost of the photographer (and videographer, should you choose one) next, and after doing a little research on the internet, we put down a further 10% to this. A married friend once told me, whatever you do, do not scrimp on the photographer! The photos really are the lasting memory of the day, and can be enjoyed by so many people, so it really is worth the money.
One of the important elements we both always wanted at our wedding was a live band. Music is so important to the both of us, and having a band at our wedding was key. We budgeted around 5% for this, just as a guide.
We decided to lump the costs such as stationery, flowers, cake & venue decoration all together at this point, just to give us a rough idea. For example, at this stage, we didn’t know what kind of flowers we wanted, how many guests were coming for the size of the cake etc. In the end, we found a supplier that did a package including all of these services, and we spent around another 7% on this. On the initial budget, we allocated 5%, so we weren’t too far off the mark.
The other important cost to consider is the unknown cost! After you’ve compiled your budget, you should add an extra 5% – 10% to cover all the unexpected things and overspends you are inevitably going to incur. I honestly can’t stress this enough…no matter how much you think you are going to spend, you will spend more, and you’ll do it because it’s your special day and you want everything to be perfect.
Obviously, there are some costs you may want that aren’t included here, such as transport, rings, gifts etc. Add them in to your budget at a price you would be happy to pay and adjust one of your other expenses accordingly.
Also, prioritise your wedding expenses from most to least important. If you need to make cuts in your budget, always start with the details and expenses that are least important to you both.
Communication is key when planning a wedding, and you will no doubt get into some disagreements with your partner on how much to spend, and on what. Argue your points calmly and clearly, and listen to your partners thoughts and responses. There will be things you need to compromise on, and trust me, on the day you won’t even care about any details you had to exclude!
You should regularly revisit your budget, particularly when you are getting quotes from suppliers. Check back to make sure they aren’t way off the mark, and of course, adjust it should you decide to change your mind on things! As you start to make bookings with suppliers, it’s best to make a note of what you’ve committed to spend and note down deposits and payments you’ve made so you can always keep track of where you are with things. Making a note of due dates is also handy.
Here’s a little infographic I did showing the breakdown of the budget. I hope if you’re planning a wedding you find this useful, and if you’ve already planned one, how does this budget compare to yours?