How to set a budget (and stick to it)

The first thing to do when you’re setting your budget is to be realistic about it. This blog post assumes you’re paying for at least some of your wedding, but if you’re not and you’re still responsible for planning the wedding, this still has some useful tips on how to allocate everything.

When I say “be realistic” about your budget, I mean down to the last detail. First of all, figure out how much financial help you’re getting and note that down. Then, depending on how you run your finances, work out how much you both earn per month (if you have a shared bank account) or individually earn (if you both manage your own cash) versus your outgoings: How much do you spend a month on bills? Rent / mortgage? Petrol? Insurance? Car tax? Pet bills? Children? Train tickets? Food? Don’t leave anything out, including luxuries.

Then figure out how much of your salary is left over after all these outgoings. If that number seems small, as painful as it might be, start looking at the non-essentials on your list and find ways to cut costs on them. Believe me, it’s possible!

How far away is your wedding or would you like your wedding to be? However much you can both put away per month plus any outside contributions in the months leading to your wedding is your wedding budget.

It’s time to be realistic again – if your budget is relatively small then you’ll need to keep costs down by generally saving money on venue, decorations, dress, catering etc. (see my blog post on a shabby chic wedding on a budget) by keeping the guest list down (see my post on choosing your guests) or by moving the wedding a little further away than you’d hoped in order to have the wedding of your dreams.

If your number is big enough that you feel you can start planning, it’s time to start allocating your budget. You can make this decision by sitting down with a generic list of things people usually invest in for weddings and rearranging it in order of priority or crossing things off if they don’t apply and adding them if they do – good luck:

- Venue(s)
– Food (from canapes to the meal and any other catering like tea or coffee)
– Dress
– Accessories
– Shoes
– Suit for the groom
– Suits for the groomsmen (if you’re paying for them)
– Outfits for the bridesmaids (as above)
– Musicians for the ceremony
– Musicians for the reception
– Other entertainment for the reception
– Decorations
– Flowers
– Crockery
– Cars
– Hair and make up artist (and for your bridesmaids / MOB)
– Favours
– Rings
– Pre-wedding beauty treatments
– Cake
– Booze
– Hen party
– Stag party (relationship advice – try to allocate these budgets evenly!!)
– Honeymoon
– Creche for kids
– Waiter / waitresses (if your venue doesn’t come with them)
– MC (again if your venue doesn’t come with them)
– Wedding planner (if you can’t see how you’ll possibly have time to do all of this)
– Thank you gifts for attendants / bridal party
– Insurance
– Invitations / Stationary for reception
– Wedding website hosting
– Ceremony fees
– First night hotel

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