Creating a Budget for Your Wedding?

bestwoodwarddressCreating a Budget for Your Wedding?

Where to begin? The four largest expenses in a wedding are typically the venue, the photographer, the caterer and the wedding party apparel. The order is not exact as it depends on your choices. Photographers and wedding party apparel vary greatly in price as well as quality and service. These two purchases are also based upon your personal style, so budgets will fluctuate.

 A good place to start building a budget for your wedding is to think about your guest list. Why your guest list? Knowing how many guests you plan to invite will not only allow you to know what size venues to tour, but also allow you to budget for food, cake and alcohol as these prices will change based on your number of guests.

 Start your list by writing the names of your guests that are a “must” to invite.   This column might just be family and closest of friends.  Remember to count children if they are invited.  They need chairs to sit on, plates of food to eat and they love cake! Now total the number of guests and write that number down at the end of that list.  Next, write the numbers of guests that you would “really like” to have attend. Total that number as well, then out to the side, add it to the first list of “must” to invite guest list and write that number down. Finish up your list by writing down “everyone else” that you’d like to invite below your second total. Now add this third section of guests to total your previous list of guests from the “must” invite and “really like” to invite for a total of the largest possible wedding you would like to budget for.

Now that you have three different options for budgeting a wedding, ask yourself how you envision your day?  Have you always pictured a DIY wedding of awesome decorations that you’ve seen on Pinterest or have you pictured time with your family and friends on your wedding day? Being on a budget, you may have to do some give and take here.  Now that you have considered your options regarding your guest list, it’s time to search out venues. There are many options when it comes to venues and no two are exactly alike, so this will take some research.

 If you are the DIY Bride and have family and friends that will help with all the decorating, set up, clean up & cutting of the cake, etc. you might choose a venue where you simply rent the space for 9-10 hours plus. This may be a cheaper way to rent a wedding venue if tables, chairs or linens are provided.  To begin your DIY budget, add to the venue price all the services and items that are a one-time purchase regardless of how many guests you invite. Some examples of these things would be a DJ, a limo, fresh flowers, a minister, cake risers, toasting goblets, punch bowl, guest book, etc. Will you be purchasing flowers for the ceremony backdrop or guest table?  Do you want a bar? Be sure and ask what is allowed. Do you want or need security?  It differs from place to place.  If you plan on hiring a wedding coordinator include this service here. While this is an added expense upfront, a good wedding coordinator may be able to find you good deals and can save you money just by knowing what pit falls to avoid when planning a wedding.   Now total this first section and call it your DIY section A.

Next, you need to budget in all the items you need based upon your guest count.   Do you have to rent tables, chairs, or linens?  Base the number of centerpieces you need on how many tables you will have.  Remember the little things like plates, eating utensils, napkins, cups, trash bags, etc. These items will grow in expense as your guest list grows.  Include the price of your invitations & RSVP cards based on how many you will need to order including postage in your three columns.  Next add the cost of your wedding cake and grooms cake as well as the caterer in each column. These prices are normally priced per person or by plate, so you will simply need to multiply the number of guests per column. Please remember to add tax and delivery charge. When ordering a hot meal, is there a charge for a server?  Does the caterer set up, serve and clean up after themselves? Do they package up the food that is left over and leave it with you or do they take it back with them? Do they provide paper goods to go with the food?  If you are serving alcohol, the amount to budget will also go up in each column. Are you providing party favors or doing something for the sendoff?  Whether you need to buy 50 or 150 of each of these items will vary based on your guest list. Now you are ready to figure the cost of your wedding, minus your wedding parties attire and photography, based on your three-different sections of your guest list. This should give you an idea of how many guests you would like to invite and how much to budget.                                                                                                                                         

Remember the question, how do you envision your day? Another option in venues are those that provide “day of service”. The guest count is usually included for you in the wedding packages they offer because they come with a choice of food, cake, and sometimes alcohol. Use of their tables, chairs, linens, centerpieces, cake risers, ice bucket and goblets for toasting, punch bowl with punch, dishes, glasses, etc. are also included in the price.  Limos, Bar services, Security, DJ services, Fresh Flowers, etc. are also offered in many of the packages as well as the services of a wedding coordinator. These types of venues often provide a wedding rehearsal a day or two before your wedding that is not counted in the rental time and have a coordinator there to walk you through it. They may provide staff that does all the set up and clean up for you. Some venues have staff that cut the cake for you, remove dishes from the table, package up a plate for the bride and groom as well as any leftover food. Often, these venues have nicer chairs, furniture, etc. because staff is there taking care of the venue rather than handing the keys of an empty building over to a person for the day.

 A Wedding Coordinator on staff to walk you through the details of your wedding can be a real plus especially if it’s included in the price of the venue.  Often times these types of venues will set up a “Vendor Night” so that you can do a one stop tasting of their partner’s food, cake, etc. Going this route might save you a lot of time before your day arrives as well as relieve stress the day of your wedding. When you add in all the cake table accessories, centerpieces, flower arrangements, etc. that often come with these packages, they might be more affordable then you think.

 Budgeting a wedding using one of these venues is a little simpler as you take the venue package price based on your guest list numbers, add your photographer, item for your guest to sign, and your wedding attire for the wedding party. You will also need to add in, based on your number of guests, your invitations/RSVP, postage, sendoff items and party favors. If there is a service the wedding package does not provide and you desire it, then you will need to add that service in as well.

In the end, it’s your day and you have a personal budget to work in.  Budgets usually mean a give and take of things that show us what is really the most important to us.  What that is, is uniquely you! Embrace it!  We hope you love your wedding day.

Rebecca Belflower and Tasha McBrayer
Belflower Chapel and Event Center