Money can be tricky in any situation, but especially when it comes to your big day. We all want our wedding day to be exactly the way we dreamed (whether it’s big or small) but unfortunately, a lot of wedding-related costs can run a pretty high price tag. With that in mind, we’ve prepared some tips to help you create a wedding budget and stick to it.
Crunch some numbers
The first thing you need to do is sit down and look at the money you have and the money you’ll be making between now and your wedding day and see how it matches up to your dreams. If you’re planning a big to-do and paying for the whole thing by yourself, you may need to be realistic about what you can afford. It can be a little daunting looking at those numbers in black and white, but it’s totally necessary. Just remember: it’s never too late to start saving. Start finagling your budget and see if you can skip on some luxuries for a little while–like your daily latte or that summer getaway or yet another sundress–and put that extra cash into a high-interest savings account or invest it for the wedding planning process–anywhere you can’t touch it for a while. Once you’ve established how much you can bank on having by the time your day rolls around, you can start booking. Tip: Most vendors just require a deposit upfront, so you only need to shell out small amounts at a time, leaving you lots of time to save for the remainder of the costs.
So you have your estimated budget, now it’s time to find out how much things cost. Brace yourself though–a lot of amounts will be higher than you expect (I’m sorry, you want how much for flowers?!), but getting quotes (and keeping a record) from various companies is a great place to start so you can see what you’re willing to spend more money on and what you’re able to save on. Start by asking friends who are married who they used and if they liked them (if you’re really close you can ask how much it cost, but that depends on your relationship) or looking at some websites (like this, this and this) who have lists of vendors in your area. Tip: Your venue and food and drink should be the bulk of your wedding expense because it includes some of the most important parts.
Prioritize your must-haves over your really-wants
Planning a wedding is really a big black hole of “OMG! I NEED THIS AT MY WEDDING!” And while, yes, there are some things that if money were no object, you’d have them, you need to prioritize what is your bottom line and what would be just really cool to have (like that 30-flavour rainbow macaron table). True story: my fiancé© and I were shopping around for a “cool” venue in Toronto that housed 300 people and included food and drink for a reasonable price. We had both been to countless weddings at banquet halls and wanted to do something different. The hard truth was that “cool” venues run up a much larger bill and don’t come with a lot included, so in the end we decided to go with the large banquet hall that seats 300 people for $33,000 versus the “cool” venue that only housed 220 people for $50,000 (no, I’m not kidding) because having everyone there was more important to us than having a different venue.
Call in favours
Have a friend who is a really great photographer or one who is a talented designer? Ask them to provide their time and services in lieu of getting you a wedding gift. Better yet, ask some friends to help you out in making or stuffing invitations, favours, centrepieces on your own to keep costs down. This is where Pinterest becomes your best friend!
Don’t be afraid to negotiate
This can be so difficult, especially when you’re dealing with a friend-of-a-friend or even just a bad negotiator, but it’s so necessary. If you’re booking a photographer, ask for a quote for the wedding and then see if they’ll go down a bit if you book them for engagement photos, too. Same goes for invites or printing if you’re getting someone to design them–if you’re getting lots printed, see if they can come down a bit or throw in envelope stuffing.
Stay organized and stick to your numbers
Staying organized is going to be your key to knowing how much money is going out and on what. I like Excel spreadsheets because they’re great for calculating amounts (and keeping track of RSVPs, too), but there are tons of tools and apps to keep your pennies in check (The Knot‘s app is really awesome for overall planning). Set up budgets and alerts on apps like Mint to remind you when you’re going overboard with your spending on certain categories (actually just great for money-saving in general). And remember one thing: While this is a big (big) day, you need to remember why you’re celebrating–the love between you and your partner, of course. In the end, you know what you can afford, but there’s no sense in going to debt over a party (even a super spectacular party).
The Wedding Planner is an ongoing series where we give you some real-life wedding planning advice, from finding the dress to dealing with that ever-growing guest list, over the next few months as we figure it out ourselves.