Happy January friends! We absolutely love seeing all of your holiday engagement posts with that sparkly new ring! We wish we could tell you wedding planning was all cake tastings and flowers, but as you’ve probably discovered by now…they also come with price tags. Already feel like starting the wedding budget is stressing you out? Don’t worry. That’s what we’re here for.
Step 1: Contributions
Before you go venue shopping, you need to know how much money you have to work with.
- Will your parents be contributing?
- Will your grandparents be contributing?
- Has anyone left any money aside for your wedding?
- Will you be using any money from your savings?
Then consider how much the two of you can put towards your wedding. Remember you don’t have to come up with your contribution all at once. Add your monthly expenses and compare it to your monthly income to see how much you can contribute towards your wedding.
Pro Tip: You’ll probably book your venue and photographer earlier on so they may require a deposit at booking. Note how much you have saved this month to make sure you can cover the initial deposits.
Step 2: Wedding Budget Expenses
Consider the following expense categories to include in your wedding budget:
- Reception (includes venue, rentals, food and alcohol, cake, and any miscellaneous fees)
- Usually accounts for 40 – 50% of budget
- Attire (includes tux/suit, dress, alterations, veil/headpiece, accessories, hair and makeup, and any miscellaneous fees)
- Flowers & Decor (includes floral arrangements for ceremony and reception, flower girls baskets, bouquets, corsages, boutonnieres, lighting, and any miscellaneous fees)
- Music (includes musicians for ceremony and cocktail hour, reception entertainment, sound system or dance floor rental, and any miscellaneous fees)
- Photography/Videography (includes cost of photography and/or videography services, prints, albums, and any miscellaneous fees)
- Favors & Gifts (includes cost of any welcome gifts, reception favors, delivery fees, and any other miscellaneous fees)
- Ceremony (includes donation to church or officiant, site fee, and any miscellaneous fees)
- Usually accounts for 2 – 3% of budget
- Stationery (includes save the dates, programs, RSVPs, invitations, thank you cards, postage, and any miscellaneous fees)
- Wedding Rings (includes wedding rings, insurance if you need it, any other accessories, and any miscellaneous fees)
- Transportation (includes any rentals and transportation needed for your guests, your bridal party, valet parking, and any miscellaneous fees)
- Splurge Fund (if the budget allows, this is to splurge on something special you have wanted for your wedding day)
You will notice miscellaneous fees are listed within each category because smaller unexpected expenses will pop up. Some of the most common ones include extra postage, additional alterations, marriage license, and cake cutting fees. If you don’t need a category above, allocate more to another area or turn it into your splurge fund!
If you’d like to see this breakdown in Excel, click here to work with a Salud wedding planner who can create a custom budget for you!
Step 3: Guest Count and Date
Now that you know how much money you have to work with and can expect 40 – 50% to go to your venue, you’re almost ready to start shopping!
Start by creating a tentative guest list with your parents so you have a rough idea of your guest count. This exercise will also help you rule out venues that aren’t big enough to host your wedding.
Also have a time of year in mind. Some venues will have different pricing for off season vs. peak season. If you don’t mind shifting your wedding, off season pricing may be a great option for you.
Now that you can expect your venue cost to be roughly 40 – 50% of your budget, you can start reaching out to venues! Expect them to give you a cost per head. If the per person fee for open bar isn’t included, make sure to add the two numbers together.
Take the total cost per head, multiply it by your number of guests, add the tax, and see if it equals 40 – 50% of your budget!