With the average wedding cost close to $30K (or $50K in an urban area) it’s wise to create and follow a wedding budget. Keeping track of expenses is extremely important as the wedding costs can and will quickly add up and spiral out of control. Sticking to a budget will help keep the wedding cost under control and help you deal with unexpected expenses.
See how much the average wedding cost in 2011.
Step 1 Figuring out your wedding costs
Finding out how much your wedding could potentially cost will help you get an idea of how much money you’ll need to save for the big day and will be the basis for your wedding budget. Although this number is an estimate, it at least gives you a place to start.
Find out how much the average wedding can cost in your area. Go ahead and click on the following link:
OK, don’t pass out just yet. There are so many ways to cut costs that you will most likely not even come close to that number. We’ll just look at this as the upper limit of your wedding budget for now.
Step 2 Coming up with an initial figure
There are three ways to do this:
You can use the result from the average Wedding Cost Search above
Just go with the amount you’ve been able to save by the wedding date
Determine how much you are willing to spend on a wedding and go with that number
Create an initial rough estimate by using this online tool. It will give you a price range per item depending on what state you live in:
Oh, don’t forget to include the honeymoon costs, you’re going have to pay for that too.
Step 3 Calculate how much money you have
First, start with how much you have saved up so far plus how much you’ll be able to save until the wedding. Next, add in any money your family will be giving you towards the wedding.
You’ll most likely be getting cash gifts at the wedding, but since you have no way of knowing this for sure don’t count on this money to be in wedding budget. Just think of it as a nice little bonus you can use to save up for a house or something else.
Also, even if you are registering for a honeymoon or other cash type registry, do not include this money either. There is no way of knowing how much you will get until after the wedding.
You should plan on having enough money to fund the entire wedding and honeymoon by the wedding date. You may consider putting some of the costs on credit cards or getting loans, but do you really want to be paying your wedding off for the next 30 years? Besides, no one says you have to get married within a year after he proposes. Maybe it takes you two years to save up, and that’s perfectly OK.
Step 4 Create a wedding budget
You hopefully by now, have an overall budget number and a good idea of your future wedding costs. In order to have an effective budget you need to divide it into categories. Then list all items that will go within each category, each one getting its own dollar amount.
And now the fun begins, you get to create your budget! There are plenty of free templates you can use online. They will typically ask for your total budget amount and will automatically divide and allocate money for each individual category and item. Here is one that is pretty thorough:
This of course is still only an estimate. Once you begin looking at actual vendor prices and products online and in the stores you will then get more concrete numbers. You can then begin adjusting them (hopefully down) revising your budget as you go along.
Once your wedding budget gets more realistic and detailed you can create your own sheet on excel or word. This way it will be tailored to your actual expenses.
You can see the wedding budget I made for out wedding on Word, here.
Step 5 Balance your Wedding budget…and stick to it!
Most likely, unexpected expenses will arise or you may need to even add new items to your wedding budget. Unless you can produce more money to cover the extra costs, you’re going to need to fit them into the budget. This is where a little creative budgeting comes into play.
I like to think of the wedding budget as a balancing act: you have to cut a little here, if you want to spend a little more there. Determining where to cut is the hard part. You’ll just have to look through each item and see if you can do without it.
The most important thing is to just stick to it and keep track of all your expenses, that way you (and your wallet) are not surprised at the end.
Remember, what’s important is not how big and flashy the wedding is (at least not to the practical bride), or how much you spend. Today, anything goes as far as weddings go. You can have a formal event in a hall or a casual celebration in a barn. Weddings are about getting everyone that is important to you together to share in your celebration.
By the way, i’ve see photos of some amazingly beautiful weddings that have taken place in unusual reception venues; such as barns, forests and country fields. It’s not so much about the location but about the details and added touches that you bring to the location.
Step 6 Keep things in perspective
Sometimes, it may be difficult to stay on budget and you may feel like things are getting out of control. As you go along more and more things start to pop up increasing your costs. You want everything to be perfect because this is the biggest and most important day of your lives.
But when you really come to think of it, this is only one of the important days, there will be many, many more. What’s really important is the rest of your lives together. This is only one day! Actually it’s only about 4 hours.
So, the next time you start eyeing those $400 shoes you couldn’t possibly ever wear again or fall in love with the $8 favors with the cute little bows, remember it’s only a four hour party! Would you rather start your lives together with a $30,000 debt or $0 debt?
That should help keep things in perspective and your budget on track.
Photo Credit: Photo by penywise