• Lesson 4 - Budget

  • Budgets can vary as much as every couple getting married. What is a realistic expenditure? That is a loaded question to answer as many different parameters will influence this - primarily guest count, location and personal priorities/taste are the main influencers. Another challenging element is that the cost of wedding services can vary around the country and world.

    The main chunk of your budget will be your reception venue fee, food and beverage and rentals. I recommend budgeting 50-55% of your total budget for this. The remaining allocation will be divided between Invitations/Stationery (4-5%), Ceremony (4-5%), Flowers (8-10%), Music (8-10%), Photography (8-10%), Wedding Attire (5%) and Day-Of Planner (if desired!).

    I have provided a detailed wedding budget for you to use - see Planning Tool. It features 4 columns including a budgeted amount, the actual amount, the paid amount and the balance due amount. Each column will auto-add at the end of each individual allocation. The Grand Total at the very bottom adds up all the individual allocations.

    A second Grand Total adds your rehearsal dinner and honeymoon if you choose to include these. If used properly, this will keep all your wedding finances available in one spot for quick reference.

    Under the 'Notes/Comments' column I recommend entering when a deposit or payment is due and the amount.
    For example: $400 DEP Due 4/15. I also recommend adding who your Wedding Pro is on the same line next to their category under the first column.

    *Reminder to take a look at the Group Chat calendar (on your main page), if you haven't already, and sign up for your first chat!

  • Planning Tool

    Planning Tool

    Budget Excel Form

  • Money Saving Tips

    Now that you have your wedding budget figured out (on paper at least!), be careful of the "bridal creep". Hidden wedding costs like specialty decor rentals, postage and even cake cutting can quickly break your budget. Here are a few items that may creep in and some solutions to avoid the potential increase in costs as well as money-saving tips.

    1. Wedding Date
    Be prepared to pay more for your venue as well as a wedding pro on holiday dates. To save money, you may consider a Thursday, Friday or Sunday wedding. A lot of venues offer lower pricing for non-Saturday events. This is also a bargaining chip when booking wedding professionals for a non-Saturday event. They may be open to negotiating a lower price when not a prime date since they have the opportunity to book this date in addition to yours.

    2. Postage
    Wedding envelopes weigh more than everyday letters – many can cost up to $2 each to mail. Spending hundreds of dollars more on stamps may surprise some couples so when selecting your beautiful invitation, keep in mind size and weight. Sending an evite is a green option that saves paper and postage.

    3. Wedding Album
    Some photographers will offer discounts on albums (if offered a la carte) when purchasing at the time of booking. I would take advantage of this option if you want a professional album. Some photographers include albums within a package price but be careful, the albums usually have a set number of pages included. To save money you can opt for the images on DVD (if offered to purchase by your photographer) and make your own album. This is only for those who do not care for a professionally designed and assembled album.

    4. Welcome Bag Delivery
    Welcome bags in general can really push the expenditure to new heights. The items, bag itself and delivery can easily climb to $30+ per bag. Hotels typically charge extra to deliver the bags to the rooms and some still charge to hand out at the front desk at check-in.

    5. Extra Hours
    When creating budgets and timelines for our clients, we recommend starting with a 6 hour ceremony/reception time frame. This block of time typically works well within most venues and wedding pros without incurring extra costs. On your wedding day, if you add hours to extend the reception or plan a longer ceremony/reception from the start, then expect additional hourly costs from the wedding pro and potentially the venue as well. OR if you cut back to a 5 hour ceremony/reception, then you may save some money.

    6. Taxes & Tip (the ++)
    This is on our Venue Question checklist and should be included in the Reception Allocation already. It is something to be very aware of when working with your wedding menu and bar selections. Adding the one appetizer for $2.00 per person will be more than that with the tax and tip added.

  • 7. Flowers
    Stick to local and seasonal flowers to keep this cost lower. Also we are a fan of re-purposing flowers on your wedding day - aisle arrangements can be moved to your reception area for example.

    8. Cake Cutting
    You MAY be able to save money with a D-I-Y wedding cake or dessert buffet, but this depends on your caterer or venue if in-house catering. A cake cutting fee per person is common in the industry and can range from $2-$7 per person. In this case, you are better off with a 'finger-only' dessert buffet if supplying yourself or using the in-house baker.

    9. Travel
    When booking air travel, an overnight Saturday stay sometimes yields cheaper fares. Also, use search engines like AirFareWatchDog.com or Kayak.com to search nearby airports (if an option with your destination wedding), which can reduce the cost of your trip.
    Another easy way to extend your dollar, is to pay for absolutely everything (and this is all things wedding!) you can with a credit card that earns flyer miles or cash discounts.
    **Request convenience checks from your credit card company to pay for wedding pros that may not accept credit cards. The convenience checks are charged to your credit card just like a transaction and will earn flyer miles or cash discounts.

    10. Specialty Rentals
    This can easily break the budget if you are not careful or budget accordingly for this. Take advantage of any rentals, if included, that your reception venue may provide. If you have a limited budget and there is a specific chair (for example!) that you must have, then I recommend reserving all of your key wedding professionals first to determine the remainder in your budget for the extras. 

    11. Wedding Pro Meals
    When assessing your final head count, please remember your hired wedding pros. They will usually provide in their contract whether or not they require a meal. Include this in your reception costs from the start. The caterer typically provides these at a discount.

    12. Corkage Fees
    Depending on your venue, you may be able to bring in your own alcohol. More common is the corkage fee which can be $20+ per bottle. Check the average price per bottle at your reception venue and determine which makes more sense - bringing in your favorite vintage or selecting from their wine list.

    13. The Plan B
    You MUST have a Plan B if your ceremony and/or reception is outdoors at any time of the year. This plan, whether used on the day or not, can add cost to your budget. From a tent deposit to reserving an indoor back-up space at your five-star hotel, many couples find the extra insurance worth every penny.