Planning a wedding can be a very stressful process. The emotional significance of your big day will likely cause you to analyze every single detail from what color paper the invitations should be printed on to whether or not you really have to invite your future spouse’s crazy cousin.
As if the heightened emotions weren’t enough, planning a wedding is also ridiculously expensive. According to an article at The Knot, the average cost for a 150-person wedding is $27,000. Whether you plan on spending more less than that number, there is no denying that this event is going to be pricey.
Because of the high price tag, it is a good idea to sit down at the beginning of your planning stages and work through a budget for the entire event. This will allow you to make smart decisions about where you prefer to spend a little bit extra and where you are comfortable cutting.
Who is Paying?
The first step in planning a wedding budget is to identify where exactly the money will be coming from. Traditionally, the bride’s family pays for most of the expenses, but that is not always the case. Many times, the groom’s family is just as willing to contribute to the event. There are also many couples who prefer to save for their wedding and pay for the entire event themselves, this is especially common if the bride or groom have been married before.
Where the money comes from is not a big concern, but it is important that everyone understands who is paying for what before the planning starts. Sitting down with each family separately to discuss the wedding finances is a good idea to make sure that everyone is on the same page. If your family is planning to contribute to the wedding, ask them to give you a number that you can work your budget around.
Where is the Money Going?
Once you have a good understanding of how much money you will be able to spend, it’s time to start breaking down where you are going to spend that wedding budget. Here are some of the biggest expenses:
The reception generally takes up about 50% of the entire wedding budget. This cost will include renting the reception facility, food, beverages, the wedding cake, and favors for your guests. Make sure that any quotes you get include the costs of any linens, china, and setup fees.
The second biggest expense for most weddings is photography and videography. This can account for anywhere from 10-15% of the budget and will include the photography and videography services that day, as well as prints and albums later.
You can expect the florist to take anywhere from 8-10% of the budget. This should include decorations at the ceremony, centerpieces for the reception, and flowers for the bridal party.
While the cost of renting tuxedos for the men is a fairly standard cost, the prices of wedding dresses can vary tremendously. The cost for all of the attire averages around 10% of the budget.
Music is another incredibly important budget concern. Having a great DJ can really enhance the entire evening by having the right music playing at the perfect time. You can expect a great DJ to cost 6-10% of your total budget, but this is a great area to spend extra money if you have some flexibility in your budget.
After the big day is over, many brides will regret spending money on things like a candy table or chocolate fountain when they could have put that money towards hiring a truly professional entertainment company. The difference between a bargain-priced DJ and a true professional is one of the biggest keys to having a wedding that everyone remembers!
Depending on where you choose to have your wedding ceremony, there will likely be some sort of fees associated with the location. This might also include paying for musicians. Typically, the ceremony fees cost about 2-3% of the budget.
Once all of those larger costs are out of the way, the smaller costs will start to add up. Things like stationary for invitations, gifts for bridesmaids and groomsmen, wedding bands, and transportation can all take anywhere from 1-3% out of your budget. As you finalize your wedding plans, you will also find that there will be many more small expenses that suddenly arise. It is always a good idea to leave some extra wiggle room in the budget for these concerns.
Having a budget in place before you start planning your wedding can allow you to approach each emotional decision with a rational outlook. Knowing where you stand within your budget can give you the power to assess whether or not it is really worth spending extra money in one area or cutting costs in another. Your wedding is your special day, and having a solid budget will help to make sure that it comes off exactly the way you want it to.