How to plan your wedding budget

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Maidens Barn Wedding Venue, Essex // Photo by Sam & Louise 

Following on from my last post where we discussed what you should focus on when you are newly engaged, in the next series of blog posts we are going to delve a little bit deeper in to some of these points, starting with your wedding budget! 

I know, I know... nobody enjoys talking about money and in the grand scheme of wedding planning it is not the most exciting subject BUT it is important to get your financial plans right from the very start to save you from any problems and heartache further down the line. 

Wedding budgets are a personal subject, and is something that should be discussed openly.  It doesn't matter if you're a DIY bride with a £5,000 budget or a bride with a generous £50,000 budget - it still needs to be approached in the same way, and this post will help you to consider which elements are important to you and how to allocate the funds you have. 

1.  Honest discussions

Start off by openly talking about how much you already have saved, and how much you can realistically save between now and your wedding date, without compromising your quality of life. 

The next step is to establish who will be paying for your wedding.  If parents or other relatives are contributing then now is the time to find out so that you can include this amount in your budget. Make sure everyone is on the same page - are these contributions a gift, or will your family want a bigger say in the planning process because of their stake? 

You will now have a sensible figure to work with - refer back to this regularly throughout your planning process to see if you are on track. This is going to help you plan a wedding that you can actually afford, rather than planning an elaborate wedding that will start off your married life in a mountain of debt! 

2.  Your priorities

Sit down together and figure out which parts of the wedding day are most important to each of you. How do you want to feel on your wedding day and how do you want your guests to feel? Is there a particular venue that holds significant meaning to you? The time of year, the food, entertainment, music, flowers, decor... come up with a list of essential, nice to have and not important elements. You may need to compromise, but getting your priorities in order will make allocating your budget that little bit easier. You will be able to refer back to this list during throughout to make sure you that are making choices based on your wedding style and budget.

This can be one of the hardest parts when budgeting for your wedding, as many couples are getting married for the first time and have no idea of the true cost of things. A Partial Planning service could come in handy, as a wedding planner will know exactly what you can get for your money! 

3.  Budget spreadsheet 

I LOVE a good spreadsheet, but I know not everyone shares in my enthusiasm... however, it is the quickest and easiest way to keep all of your information together, and track your spend as you go along. 

Breaking the budget down in to each supplier category is much more effective than having a total figure to work from. You don't want to blow your budget on your venue, and then realise that you haven't got the funds to cover everything else on your "must-have" list. As a guide, 45% of your overall budget will go on the reception, including hire, food & drink - leaving you with 55% to cover everything else.

Having separate columns for "estimated spend" and "actual spend" is a great way to keep track of any over (or under!) spends.  Knowing exactly what you have left should stop you from adding in more items or booking extra suppliers, without at least thinking about where this extra money is coming from! 

Do plan to overspend... having a contingency included in your budget is an absolute must! With this in place, if there are any overspends or something crops up that you hadn't accounted for, you won't need to readjust your entire budget. However, this is not to be treated as an extension of your budget - use this for emergencies only! 

 Essex wedding venue - Maidens Barn wedding - wedding canapes

4.  Guest list

You may have to be a little ruthless when it comes to putting your guest list together, in order to stay within your budget.  Every guest comes with a price per head, and we're not just talking food and drink.  Just an additional 10 guests means an extra table, centrepiece, stationery etc... 

Don't over-invite in the hope that some people will say they can't attend! Draw up an A and B list, and if someone from your A list is unable to attend you can start to invite additional guests.  

5.  Shop around

Before committing to any suppliers, signing contracts, or making wedding day purchases - shop around! Make sure that you get 2-3 quotes from each type of supplier, and thoroughly check if this includes VAT or any hidden extras that could drastically change the original quote. 

This way you can make sure you're getting best value for your money, and also make sure that the day you have in mind is in reach. 

Now is the time to double check your budget - have you forgotten any essentials? Are there any suppliers you've excluded but think you might regret further down the line? Have you underestimated any how much some suppliers might actually cost? Budgeting for your wedding can be really challenging, but it's also really exciting as it is the first step to making your big day a reality! 

If you are struggling to put together your budget, or need help with anything else, then please do get in touch for a chat to see how I can help. 

Until next time... 

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Natasha xo