How to Create a Wedding Budget

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A helpful guide on how to create a wedding budget that actually works.

The most popular question I hear from clients is how to create a wedding budget. It’s likely they have never had control over such a large sum of money at once in their lives. Creating a wedding budget can seem overwhelming, but if you take your time and think through it logically, you’ll feel much more relaxed and prepared.

In today’s post, I’m sharing my tips for how to create a wedding budget so can feel confident in throwing an amazing celebrating without feeling like you’ve broken the bank.

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Megan Laura Photography. How to create a wedding budget.

Family Meeting

First, sit down with your families to discuss what financial assistance they are willing to put forward. Will each set of parents be contributing a specific dollar amount? Will they also be covering the cost of the dress? Do they have rules as to how their contribution is spent?

Save, Save, Save

Next, be brutally honest with how much can you realistically save for the wedding over the planning period. Long engagements can get a bad rap, but remember, the longer you are engaged, the more you will be able to save. So if you decide that May is your month, consider waiting until May the following year. This will not only give you more time to save but also time to enjoy your engagement and really consider your options.

Set Your Priorities

Now that you have determined the dollar amount you have to work with for the wedding, it’s time to make a priority list of which elements are most important to you. Also, consider the elements you can live without and ask yourselves, ‘Will anyone notice if we don’t do this?’. The answer for most things is probably ‘no’ and these can make up your Wish List. Stick to your list of most important things and consider adding those Wish List items back in if you have room in the budget once the big things are settled.

Breaking Down your Budget

Once you have finished prioritizing each wedding element, you’ll need to start assigning them percentages of your overall budget. The largest part of your budget (around 50%) should be assigned to your venue, catering and alcohol. Photography and florals should be set around 8 – 10% each. Stationery and other decorations (candles, linens, chair rentals) should sit somewhere around 4 to 5% and your DJ should be around 3%. Keep in mind that depending on your budget, these percentages may need to increase to be in line with the going rate for each category. I also recommend setting a percentage aside for miscellaneous things that sneak up so you can use it for a little flex if you do need to go over in a couple of areas!

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Megan Laura Photography. How to create a wedding budget.

Sneaky Ways Pricing Creeps Up
  • Guest List. It can be difficult to decide who should be there to celebrate with you, but this is the largest driving point of your budget. The lower the guest count, the further your money will go.
  • Postage. Forgetting to account for postage in your stationery budget. To send a standard size envelope in Canada, it is currently $2 per invitation set ($1 for the invitation, $1 for the RSVP). Adding too many pieces or doing an oversized dimension can also increase the cost of your postage. It might not seem like much, but it can quickly eat into your miscellaneous pot!
  • Credit Card Fees. Do you plan to pay for everything on credit cards to get your points or just to make paying for the wedding a little easier? Most vendors pass the credit card fees on to the customer so you could easily be paying 3% extra on every bill if you plan to pay by card! And, of course, if you don’t pay it off each month, you’re also paying interest!
  • Gratuities. Though your venue or caterer will almost always add an 18-20% gratuity to their final invoice, other vendors who expect or require tips (limo drivers usually at 20% each) don’t, so you’ll want to be sure you’re putting the money aside. And just because a vendor doesn’t require or expect a tip, if you feel like they’ve gone above and beyond, it’s nice to recognize them with a tip or small token of your appreciation.
  • Committing to a large number from the start. Many venues have a guaranteed guest count based on the number you provide them with from the get go. If you are unsure of your guest count, be conservative with the number you give to the venue/caterer so you don’t get stuck paying for 130 guests if your final numbers end up at 110.
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Megan Laura Photography. Ashley Elaine Florals. How to create a wedding budget.

Hire a Planner

You might think that hiring a wedding planner is a luxury. Sure, it can be a big investment, but you do gain the expertise of someone guiding you on how to create a wedding budget, which will ensure you get the most out of your money!

Most planners also offer more cost effective solutions for clients who only need help with certain areas, such as the final details. The most commonly sought service is the Month-of Coordination service which is a great investment for the couple who can handle most of the planning on their own.

For my Month-of Coordination clients, I want to maximize the support they receive from me without adding much to the cost so I provide my clients with online planning toolkit with worksheets including a full budget manager and calculator, wedding day itinerary, a guest list manager, ceremony details, an overview worksheet to house all vendor and wedding party contact details, and folder to upload their service agreements, and a space for notes and other important details. They receive this right from the moment they sign on so they don’t have to worry about filling all of this out for me when we get started the month before the wedding. I also offer vendor referrals to my clients regardless of the planning package they have secured, so they can get access to vendors who have the perfect aesthetic and price for their event. Perhaps they had a specific photographer in mind but can’t afford. It’s likely I’ll know someone in a similar aesthetic who is more suited to their budget. They just do the work with connecting with them and continuing the conversation and I’ll pick up at the one-month mark! It’s my way of helping them feel they have personalized support.

I hope you feel empowered with this guide on how to create a wedding budget!

As a special bonus, to help you get started, download my free wedding budget calculator!