Happily engaged, living in a bubble of joy and dreaming of a long and blissful marriage … Then out comes the wedding budget spreadsheet and ‘POP’ out pours a feeling of dread, doubts as to whether you can even afford to get married, and immediate downsizing of the wedding of your dreams. The wedding budget is the centre of your wedding planning journey, and like it or not you are going to have to discuss it, rework it, battle with it and inevitably make peace with it, in order to have a realistic chance of enjoying your wedding planning journey … Unless of course money is no object, in which case, as you were! I am slightly envious of you, but also, I think I’d find a bottomless pit of money more difficult to manage, I mean where do you even stop?! I guess we will find out when we see Harry and Meghan’s wedding in just over a weeks’ time!
If, like most brides and grooms you do have a wedding budget, how do I advise that you deal with it? Well, firstly I should tell you that I am right there with you in that battle with a spreadsheet! But, I have made peace with mine. It isn’t a tiny shoestring, but it isn’t a brand-new Jimmy Choo either! A couple of months ago, we sat down and worked out how much we could afford to put aside each month up until March 2019 and that became our budget. No contingencies, no extra’s, just that. We are mid home renovation and have two young daughters (and just life itself to contend with) and so we don’t have a large savings nest to dip into, we are also funding the wedding ourselves and so our budget really is final, and I see that as a good thing. So, step one … decide on your budget and stick to it!
Once you have your budget, you need to work out how you want to spend it! My starting point to planning all parts of your wedding (not just the budget) would be to remember that this is YOUR day. I talk about this a lot, but it is the be all and end all as far as I am concerned. In many cases, weddings are funded by parents or in-laws and in such cases, they end up having a say in certain elements such as the size of your guest list etc. Again, that is fine and if someone else is paying for your wedding then perhaps you should be slightly more lenient with adding Great Aunt Pauline who you last saw when you were 3 to your list, if it what the budget holder really wants.
But it is still YOUR wedding and so once you have your budget, you should start out by considering what elements of a wedding are important to you. Is it your arrival in a classic Rolls Royce, is it a 3 course a la carte menu for you and your guests or is it THE DRESS? Start thinking about how much you would consider allocating to each bit of your wedding. We’ve all seen the infographic type wedding budget guides that tell you to spend 40% on your venue, 10% on your photographer etc. etc. and they are great as a reference.
Now that you have an idea of how you want to divvy out your money, do your research! Remember that pricing structures and what they include differ immensely between venues and suppliers (even within the same category) so please do take note of all information on offer, ask a lot of questions and read the small prints! This will ensure that you know exactly what the quotes you are receiving include. I’ll give you an example:
Price of a bridal gown: does it include alterations?
Venue costs: does the package include Food and Beverage, and if so is this charged per head or is it a set rate?
Price of a wedding car: Is there a limit to the distance travelled? If so, what is the additional cost per mile above that? Does the price include the option to use the car to go for photographs after the ceremony?
Extra’s: how much will wedding favours, gifts and other extra ‘little’ bits cost me?
And remember, even if you are getting married at home and therefore don’t have the costs of a traditional venue on your budget, you will need to consider costs associated with DIY weddings such as marquees, lighting, heating, catering, toilets etc. instead. Sometimes this ends up more expensive than a traditional venue!
Knowing the answers to these questions will allow you to make sure that you aren’t missing any underlying or hidden costs. At some points along the way, you may also have to revisit your budget and make changes – you may spend more in some areas than you were expecting and therefore have to be more frugal in others. Since it is natural to select your venue first this will of course then impact the rest of your spending. For us, we had our hearts set on a venue – it ticked all our boxes. But, unfortunately it was not within our venue budget – in fact it would have taken up our whole wedding budget and then some! But, rather than beg for money or re-mortgage the house, we were strong! We continued to search and have found somewhere just as wonderful and much closer to home at almost half the price. Yay!
Since we booked our venue we have gone on to confirm some other elements, in this order:
Flowers - so important to me and worth a bit of a splurge.
Photographer - I want to look back and see the day in all its wonderful glory.
Music - we love music, back in the days pre-kids we were festival goers, so this is super important and will help us remember our past.
Cake - Mr Jade would have booked this first, but I reined him in slightly – he is more excited about the cake than the wedding. True story.
The dress - that was this week’s purchase and I just love it.
Now for the things that we haven’t sorted yet and will be looking to do in the next month or so:
Catering – we are big foodies so although this hasn’t been sorted yet, the catering will take up almost 40% of our budget.
Stationery – there is no denying I love some pretty lettering!
Suits – I suppose the groom is as important as me (just!) so we should make sure he is smartly dressed!
Bridesmaids and flower girls – I had a clear idea of what I wanted here, but now I have my dress I am re-evaluating styles, and therefore budget!
And for the things that are not so important to us, and might not even be a part of our wedding:
Transport – we are getting married/staying on site, so this isn’t needed. To be honest I find it difficult to get excited about vehicles so even if this was needed I would be tempted to drive myself!
Favours – I have a love/hate relationship with these. Unless my guests (OK, I mean 'unless I') can eat them, it is very unlikely I will have any at all!
So, there you have it, an insight into our thought process when divvying up the budget. Will we go over budget in some areas? Of course we will! But will we pull back in others? We will have to!
The budget doesn’t have to be scary, as long as you accept it for what it is. A bride of mine recently told me that by the end of her wedding planning process she felt like she was just playing with monopoly money and had become a bit blasé about her spending - I'm not sure I'll get to that point but I'll let you know if I do!
Important note: Wedding suppliers can be booked up to 18 months in advance, and so you can sometimes feel pressure to book them up quickly. This can mean that your initial spending is VERY high, as you will need to pay all their deposits almost at once. These will vary from 10%-30% and in some cases even 50% of the total balance up front.
You can then have a few months of feeling that you don’t need to spend anything, and therefore go a little crazy on extra’s. But make sure you are putting money aside for the future payments that you have signed up to. Typically, suppliers will request their balance payment between 8 weeks and 2 weeks before the wedding, so you will have high expenditure right at the end too!
Bridal gowns: The Silk Loft
Floarl bouquet by Ive, Pip and Rose | Photographed by Heledd Roberts