Wedding Planning: Setting the Budget

Setting your wedding budget. 

Wait a minute, you're looking at venues you can't afford huh? I know it's hard but you have to stick to a have to know what you can and cannot afford.

We have hit on this before, but since we're slowly moving through the planning process, I figured we should hit on it again and update a bit. You've got your preferred choices for a venue, but do they fit into the budget? Hmmm....tough question.

NOBODY and I do mean nobody likes talking about the budget...not even your parents. Setting the budget, while not the fun part of planning a wedding, does not have to be painful. Setting the budget determines many of the questions addressed in the next blog post (Planning Your Wedding). 

And while you you may think with your budget, you cannot afford an event planner, an event planner can help you stay on that budget and achieve your goals. Having your budget in place can help the rest of the process be more efficient and go much smoother.

Wedding budget key concepts:

  • Is there a set limit? Yes, there is most definitely a limit. Everyone has one, that know...where they freak out. I'm pretty sure your fiance has one and even your parents or grandparents. It's important to know what it is so you can keep things in perspective and work within that number (you don't want your heart set on one thing only to have someone say (whether it's your parents or your fiance) you cannot do it because you've hit their number).
  • Know, up front, who is paying for what items. For corporate events it's much clearer as to who is paying. Just make sure your contracts reflect
  • Traditionally in a wedding the bride's side pays for the following: 
    • church costs, 
    • reception/venue, 
    • transportation, and 
    • wedding dress.
    • Traditionally the groom's side pays for the following: 
      • honeymoon, 
      • liquor, 
      • marriage license, 
      • officiant fee/gratuity, and 
      • rehearsal dinner. 

You can always go completely non-traditional because of course it is your day, but whatever way you go, KNOW what is included in the budget and what is not included in the budget and if you really want something make it a priority or make sure you can help pay for it (if someone else is paying).

Know Your Wedding Budget Priorities

If your reception venue is number one keep that in mind. What is the overall budget and how many items need to be included? Define what you want. What is most important to you for this event? Set those as your highest priorities. Then set percentages to represent them. Finally divide your budget to represent those percentages. If you do not have enough, think about what you do not need. For example, there are four key areas: venue, decor, entertainment and catering. Rank them. Now, for number one decide how much of your budget you will need for it. Once you've determined your first priority and what you can and/or want to spend, you can continue moving through your list. If your venue is most important, is it really a deal breaker to have chicken instead of steak for catering? Knowing your priorities and how much you can spend on each one will help when it's time for vendors to submit proposals. You don't want to try on a dress or see event decor if you cannot afford it. 

I know, you're probably thinking "OMG, I have to do all kinds of math with that?!?!?" But really it's okay. Use a spreadsheet :)

Once you know what you do want, a very easy way to manage your budget and break it down is a budget calculator. A budget calculator will provide appropriate expenses for each portion of the wedding...from venue and catering to attire and clothing. You can find many budget calculators online (just Google it). Here is a sample one I've drawn up for my wedding clients that calculates as we go.

You'll want that bottom line number then you can pretty much expect the following:

  • Reception: 48%-50% 
  • Attire: 8%-10% 
  • Flowers: 8%-10% 
  • Entertainment/Music: 8%-10% 
  • Photography: at least 10% of your budget (if you can hit it, at least $4,000) 
  • Videography: 5% (I'm a tad bit biased, but I consider video a necessity) 
  • Stationery: 2%-3% 
  • Wedding Rings: 2%-3% 
  • Parking/Transportation: 2%-3% 
  • Gifts: 2%-3% 
  • Miscellaneous: 5% 
  • To avoid stress, allot about 5% of your budget for a "just-in-case" fund. 

Recognize that you will probably splurge on something so keep this in mind. Factor it into your budget. Make sure to put a little bit extra into the areas where you think it's possible you might splurge: like, a special type of flowers or a specific band you want.

So, just as an example, a $50,000 budget broken down might look something like the following: All-inclusive venue, multi-course cocktail-reception, a live band, full bar.

  • Venue (all-inclusive): $25,000 
  • Catering (included above) 
  • Rentals (included above) 
  • Dessert (included above) 
  • Alcohol & beverages: $3150 
  • Pro-videographer: $2500 
  • Pro-photographer: $4000 
  • Band: $5400 
  • Wedding planning: $4000 
  • Website & invites: $1025 
  • Flowers: $2225 
  • Other: $2000 
  • Pro hair and makeup for bride, bridesmaids, moms: $500 

Once you've locked down a reasonable budget, take a deep breath and remember to HAVE FUN!!!

If you have any questions or need some help developing your budget, give us a call or shoot us an email. We love working with people, even in the smallest of ways (Budget sessions start at $250 for 2hrs).

It's Your Time Events, New Orleans Wedding Planning Design