It’s no secret that weddings are costly and can quickly go off budget. Your wedding will most likely be the biggest and most expensive party your throw in your life. According to a recent poll done by The Knot in 2016, the average cost of a wedding hit a new high at $35,329. This price tag jumped from $32,641 in the previous year of 2015 and will continue to rise.
With the lure of photo booths, gourmet food trucks, and entertainment it’s easy to find yourself spending a hefty sum on your big day. We’ve created a guide that will help you recognize your wedding budget and stay on track.
What’s in the Bank?
The entirety of your wedding budget comes from three places: you and your fiancé’s personal savings; the percentage you can contribute from your current income; any contributions from your family and friends.
Savings: This portion of cash shouldn’t simply come from your bank account. You and your partner should already have individual accounts that you can live off of in case of an emergency. Take into account your current living expenses and how much in savings you’d need in the event of job loss or other challenging scenarios. Once you have that sum, then subtract it from your total bank balance, and you will be left with how much you could potentially put towards the wedding.
Current Income: After you’ve paid off your bills and debts for the month, then you should set about 10 percent of your earnings aside every month. Use a direct deposit to move funds, so that you have a savings account dedicated to your wedding.
Other Contributions: While you shouldn’t assume that your parents or loved ones could pay for your wedding, it’s a necessary conversation. Have an open discussion about their expectations for your wedding day and see if they are will to help you or maybe they already have something set aside. It never hurts to ask!
How Much Do You Spend?
There are a variety of tools you can use to budget your wedding. To start, create a spreadsheet with these three expense columns: Projected, Adjusted, and Actual.
The information in your Projected costs column will come from research on local vendors, venues, and other wedding costs. In addition to the prices also include the estimated tip and if gratuities are factored into these fees.
After negotiating with the vendors, put their adjusted price in the second category. This cost is not set in stone, which is why you have the Actual group to see what you paid after tips, taxes, and other fees.
You should always have an “Extras” category for surprise expenses that you may not have anticipated. This cushion of cash will take into account for any missed details and ensure that they are well funded.
Here is a suggested percentage break down:
Reception (Food, Beverages, Venue, Rentals): 40 percent to 50 percent
Decorations and Flowers: 10 percent
Photography/Videography: 10 percent
Wedding Attire (Bride’s and Groom’s): 5 percent to 10 percent
Music: 5 percent to 10 percent
Optional Planner or Coordinator: 10 percent to 15 percent
Various (Transportation, Gifts, Etc.): 10 percent
“Extras” Cushion: 5 percent to 15 percent
The cushion category is crucial to your wedding budget for a reason: nothing is certain. Before you make any purchases, review the contract and bill to assure that the total matches your budget. If the vendor’s overcharge or the wedding favors are too expensive, then cut them.
Don’t Go Charge Crazy
Avoid putting your wedding on credit when possible, and don’t charge anything that you can’t pay back within a month. Request cash gifts on your registry that you can use towards your costs. Create a savings plan for after the wedding, so you’re not still paying off the credit on your 15th anniversary. If you do use a credit card to, then look for one with a cash back rewards program to help for other expenses or even the honeymoon.
Budget Your Big Day
When planning your wedding budget, you should always be realistic. Don’t design a $50,000 reception if you can only afford to pay $5,000. Use this guide as a starting point for your financial plan. Explore different apps such as Mint that can help you track your spending to make sure you don’t go overboard. While this may be a day you remember for the rest of your life, you don’t want to be paying it off for that long.