Stress often accompanies the excitement of planning a wedding. For one, it’s probably your first time hosting such an elaborate and expensive event. And that makes it all the more nerve-wracking. But the least glamorous part is drawing up your wedding budget. Although it may be the last thing you want to do, it’s actually the first thing you should do as soon as you set the date. Why? Because the average cost of a wedding in the US is $44,000 for about 170 guests. So before you fantasize about exotic venues and designer clothing, it’s crucial to set a realistic budget! And here’s how to do it.
Creating a Realistic Wedding Budget Checklist in 5 Simple Steps
Step 1- Determine who will pay.
Although traditionally the bride’s parents have been expected to pay for the entire wedding, this is no longer the case. Both families often share the cost of the wedding. In some cases, especially with more people waiting until later to get married, the bride and groom pick up the bill. Once you know who will be contributing money, you can set a realistic number to work with.
Step 2- Estimate the number of guests.
The guest count is a huge factor in your wedding cost. It also determines the size of the venue, and the amount of food and alcohol needed. These are two other major costs involved in any wedding. So estimating the guest count is an important step to calculating the things you need to pay for, such as invitations, favors, and table/chair rentals.
Step 3- Set the budget.
It’s natural to fall for a dream dress, pricey cake, or fancy venue when you’re planning your wedding. But before you go shopping, make sure you have a budget in place. Explore vendors who fit your price range rather than altering your budget to accommodate expensive vendors. After all, you don’t want to go into debt trying to get married. It may be great to have a lavish wedding, but it’s even better to start married life with money in the bank.
Step 4- Break down your budget by percentage.
There are no rigid rules about how much to allocate for each part of your wedding. But it always helps to itemize your budget and break it down by percentage. For instance, you may be willing to spend less on the cake in order to spend more on the décor, or cut down on the food menu to accommodate an expensive DJ. However, a general rule is not to spend more than 40% of your total budget on food, alcohol, and venue combined.
Step 5- Set aside a ‘miscellaneous’ fund.
Couples are often surprised by the hidden costs of a wedding. Bachelor parties, hotel rooms, vendor meals, beauty treatments, and tips to waiters, musicians, and hairstylists are all some frequently forgotten costs. These may seem like small expenses, but they add up to quite a lot. So it’s wise to set aside at least 5% of your wedding budget towards these ‘miscellaneous’ expenses.
The best way to write your wedding budget checklist is to track expenses in a spreadsheet. Itemize everything and list out your estimate for each category. Update it regularly and record the payments made and keep track of how much you owe each vendor and when they need to be paid. Keeping close track of everything will help you stick to you budget. So streamline your budget checklist and get set for a beautiful and meaningful wedding!