Wedding budgets suck. Working with your partner on developing a smart wedding budget can be stressful. But there are some great lessons that you can learn from planning a wedding together and sticking to a budget (or at least, trying to). I do consider myself a glass-half-full kind of girl, so rather than whine about them, today I’m going to try give you a different spin on wedding budgets.
In essence, budgeting for a wedding teaches you to work together as a couple to decide what’s important. You both learn about compromise. Plus, these things teach you how to make and deal with tough decisions. Each of these three things is interwoven – but here’s a rough breakdown of what I mean:
Wedding budgets force you to make tough decisions as a couple
You’ve had years of independence, and suddenly you have to think as a unit. It doesn’t come naturally! Your wedding planning is a great opportunity to practice. Decisions that you should agree together are usually big picture stuff, such as:
- How much to spend on the wedding
- Who to invite to the wedding
- What your priorities are for the wedding day
- Where to have the wedding
These decisions ultimately just affect one day of your life. Further into your lives together, you’ll face the really big questions: where to live… having children… the big, life altering crossroads which you don’t want to muck up. Practicing with wedding planning decisions is just dipping your toes in the water.
Remember, some of these decisions ultimately affect the wedding budget – for example, your venue and guest list. Be wary of saving money by picking a plain hall or marquee, and do the research: you might find that the $4,000 wedding venue with everything included is cheaper than the $2,000 marquee with flooring, chairs, tables, linen, heaters, cutlery, decorations etc still to hire!
If you’re not sure how much to portion out to each part of the wedding – or you are concerned you’ve missed something off the list – then check out the Be My Guest Wedding Planning Budget Spreadsheet Template. This worksheet allows you to input your proposed budget in, then portion out the costs among all the different bits and pieces. This gives you a starting point for the big conversations to come.
A tight wedding budget makes you prioritise
It’s important that you decide, as a couple, what your values are. You might not necessarily have something formal in place listing what’s important, but I’m sure if you take some time to reflect you’ll be able to list a few things that matter to you both.
You can apply your life values to your wedding planning too.
What do you remember about the weddings you have attended as a guest? The venue, the food and the entertainment are usually the big three. The things that you value about your wedding day are what you should be spending money on.
There are going to be things you want to do for your wedding that you can’t afford. For example, finding ideas on Pinterest can be a bit of a trap. Just because you found a cool idea on Pinterest under the DIY section does not mean it is 1. affordable and/or 2. suitable to DIY. There’s wedding invitations on Pinterest that I can’t even work out how to do, and I’ve done hundreds of invites! (I’ve explained why Pinterest can be a bit misleading in a previous blog post here.)
What should you skimp on, and what should you splurge on for your wedding?
I mentioned to my Facebook page I was tackling wedding budgets. Dani pondered: “I’ve always wondered which things you should skimp on and which things are worth splurging”.
As much as I would love to give you a list – the list would be mine. So here’s my splurge vs save list, and I hope once you’ve read it you can get a better idea of what to do with your planning:
In the initial stages of planning our big day, we hashed out what our priorities were. We wanted invitations that were different to what we’d seen before (tick), excellent food & lots of it (double tick) and amazing entertainment (big tick). Photographs were a priority too. With my background, I wanted a CD of high resolution images so I could make my own wedding album (that culled out quite a few photographers surprisingly!). Hubby and I spent a lot of money on our wedding entertainment. We wanted a fantastic singer, and we got him.
With those priorities in mind, we knew we would gladly fork out what we had to for those things. For me, the cake and the wedding dress were nice to have, but not super-important. So those things cost a lot less than they could have, allowing us to afford the big priority stuff. I snapped up a dress at a sample sale. I liked my dress – maybe an 7/10? But I loved the price – only $900. Sure, I could’ve bought my dream dress, but that would’ve come at a higher cost and meant we had to do without something else. I could’ve bought it cheaper off the internet too, but I take issue with the business practices of some online dress stores. It’s a balancing act.
If you value something highly, then it’s not a case of being expensive, or being cheap. It’s either meeting your needs and good value, or not matching your priorities and poor value. I know getting married can mean some serious money – but remember, you can go to the registry office and spend $150, done & dusted.
Hannah from Alare Wedding Planning also has great advice on this topic – she suggests making a list of your top 3 priorities. Check out her advice here.
Your wedding budget teaches you to compromise
It can be easy to get carried away and forget about your other half. I came home with two bridesmaids dresses which Craig HATED! Whoops, that was an expensive lesson to make (always check the returns policy 🙁 )
There’s a huge range of options out there and you both need to be happy with what you do. You might fall in love with a venue outside of your price range. Your practical partner thinks $9k is too much. Cue argument. Of course you should get married at a beautiful location, and the venue is the foundation for your wedding day. But they’re not wrong either.
This is great practice for married life!
You’ve got a choice here. Smash your budget and ignore your partner. Or – try and see it from their point of view. Reflect back on the priorities you’ve set for the day. Can you reshuffle some of your budget away from other low-priority things to make it work? Does the wedding venue have a discount for a weekday wedding? (Although this compromise might mean less guests… and weekday wedding discounts aren’t particularly common I found).
You cannot always get your own way. But the wedding day is about both of you, so you both need to agree.
Your bridal party can be a big cost. A big wedding party adds a hefty sum to the bottom line. It’s generally accepted that you’ll pick up the tab for your bridesmaids. Although it’s not uncommon to hear about brides getting bridesmaids to foot the bill for some expenses (such as shoes and dresses). Work out how many bridesmaids you simply have to have, and whether you can cover their costs.
A compromise we made was having two wedding attendants each. If we had three each (which I wanted) then we would’ve had to pay for an extra wedding car, on top of extra flowers, shoes, jewellery and a dress. It just couldn’t work into our budget.
Wedding budgets suck for everyone – you’re not alone in this
Unfortunately, like many things in life, there are no easy answers to budgeting for your wedding. There’s plenty of people who’ve been there, done that (hint: they’re the married ones). If you’re struggling to figure out what to spend your hard earned money on, a tool such as a Wedding Planning Budget Spreadsheet will give you the guidance necessary to write up a realistic wedding budget. It’s vital to have a concrete plan in place if you have any chance of sticking to a wedding budget.
Every couple and every budget is different. I hope you can use the tough decisions and stress as a building block to a strong and healthy marriage.
How’s your wedding budget looking?
How are you getting on with your wedding budget? Is it something that you’re battling with? If you have any questions or tricky situations, pop them below – I’d love to try help you out.