Budget is by far the biggest “white elephant” at our one on one meetings with brides and grooms. Very few couples come to that first meeting having already agreed on a wedding budget, and many of them have by that time, already started planning or spending money. Therefor budget is something we like to address right of the bat, to make sure our couples avoid awkward conversations later on.

You might ask – WHERE do I start with budgeting for a wedding and WHAT should I budget for or WHAT does the different weddings elements and services cost? All valid questions that we will answer below. As an example and a way to get you started on your own wedding budget, we have provided a downloadable budget sheet below.

WHERE do I start?

Establish your limit

You need to establish a total amount that will be your limit of what you can afford to spend on your wedding. Keep in mind that the entire amount does not have to be money you have in your bank account. You can factor in savings, a percentage you plan to save each month leading up to your wedding and also money that family or friends gift you for your wedding. You should have this figure/limit preferably on a piece of paper or on a budget sheet on your computer.

Envision your big day

This exercise works well with wine 🙂

Take an evening with your fiancee and talk about your hopes and dreams for your wedding day. Cover all the senses – the look, the feel, the sound, the taste, the smell. How big, where, when etc. Make a vision board, write some key words down that describes the wedding that you want and add in some pictures from magazines or Pinterest that does the same. This activity helps to get you as a couple on the same page before you start contacting suppliers or spending money.

WHAT should I budget for?

When planning a wedding we find the following 3 elements to be very important towards the success of the wedding:

Venue

Taking up almost 50% of your wedding budget, it is important not to skimp on this element. This sets the backdrop and stage for the whole day. The ambiance, the look and feel and food are especially important, and ultimately what your guests will be talking about long after the wedding.

Music

This element does not necessarily take up much of your budget but you definitely don’t want a wedding that ends early or an awkward empty dance floor. You want music/sound to play a very subliminal part in the way your guests experience your wedding day. A professional DJ or live entertainers know how to read a crowd and exactly how to pivot the mood through music. Choose a supplier wisely when booking this component and allow for a sufficient amount in your wedding budget. To secure the best supplier for this service make sure to check reviews or ask for referrals from friends that have had great experiences with said supplier.

Photographer & Videographer

Whether you choose to have both a photographer AND videographer or maybe you only opt for one, these services are sure to be one of your biggest decisions and also one of the biggest expenses in your budget.  Hear our hearts when we say that this is not the line item where you choose the “cheap” option. Your wedding pictures and video will be all you have left of your big day and we believe you need a supplier that understands how to perfectly capture you as a couple in order to make sure you have those memories locked in.

Side note – We cringe every time we get asked for recommendations for “cheap” photographers and/or videographers. We do not work with cheap photographers and/or videographers plainly because we do not want to run the risk of our clients receiving a cheap product. The work of a photographer/videographer is much like an iceberg. What they do on the day of your wedding is only the top bit of the iceberg that you get to see, many hours are spent prepping beforehand and editing after each wedding.

Of course the other elements play a vital role as well. It does not help to have a great photographer, but your venue and reception tables do not have something beautiful on them to take pictures of. Attention to detail is important in every aspect of the wedding.

Research

So now you know how much money you have to spend, how you would like your big day to look like and what you need to make that happen. Next step will be to do some research into what things/services will cost. Start requesting price lists or packages from venues and service providers. Make sure you cover your big ticket items as mentioned above, and line up a couple of options to compare. Read through all the terms and conditions and make sure you know about the extra costs.

HOW to put together a budget sheet

From your research you should have a general idea of what things will cost, and after communicating or meeting with certain suppliers you might already have a short list compiled of vendors you would like to use or products you would like to purchase. Next step would be to pull up a budget spreadsheet (we recommend using Excel) and enter all of the costs that you have gathered. Once done you will be able to easily see where you might be overspending or from which line item you can cut to balance out your budget.

Tip – save your budget sheet on Google Drive or Dropbox and this way you can share it with your partner and always have access to it from your mobile phone.

Customise and Upkeep

Pull out that vision board you made. Are there any items in your budget that does not complement your vision for your wedding? Maybe your priorities have changed regards to the different percentages allocated. For example, you would rather spend more on that fairy tale dress than stationary. Or you might feel that it is important to have a lot of décor and flower elements rather snacks at your pre-drinks area.It is your budget to customise, so do it, just make sure you keep an eye on that bottom line. Your budget elements and their percentage to total will likely keep changing throughout the planning process. Having your budget online will make it easy to keep updating the budget and tracking your spend.

As an added extra we have a simple downloadable budget sheet template below. You can easily edit this template to make it your own. We truly hope that this blog and template gives you a place to start from. By conquering the dreaded budget, wedding planning will be a very enjoyable process!

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