Negotiating your wedding budget probably doesn’t sound like as much fun as creating an inspiration board of gorgeous seasonal flowers, or trying on stunning rings. It is, however, an important first step when you first get engaged, so we’re sharing some of our own, generally painless step to creating a wedding budget.
1. Keep Your Head in the Cloud
Or, at least keep your data there. Create a spreadsheet on a free, web-based platform like Google Docs so you, your fiancé, family, and wedding planner can all view and edit the budget as needed. Make sure to include columns for the basics – expense categories, projected spending and actual costs.
2. All Hands on Deck!
Before you can decide how much to spend, you have to know who is contributing. Are you paying for the whole wedding yourselves, or do you have parents or family members who are planning to contribute? Whoever is paying should have at least some say in what happens, so be careful whom you tap for extra cash! Get feedback early and set boundaries at the same time.
3. Pick a Target Number
Obviously you can’t know your exact budget on day 1, but once you figure out who is participating and you get a little feedback on how much is available, you can set a dream number. This will help as you start to take money from one category and invest in another. It’s totally okay for you to change this number once you have some firm details in place.
4. Have Yourselves Some Big Ideas
It’s time to dream a little together. Think of what your perfect day would look like if you could have anything you wanted. Who would be there with you? Where would your aisle be? How would you dress, what would eat, and what would you hear? Try to develop at least one scenario, possibly two or three, and start filling in those details with some concrete ideas. You don’t need exact costs at this point – just make your most educated guesses and see what starts to develop.
5. Share Your Priorities
Give all stakeholders – anyone contributing a fair amount to the wedding – a large post-it note each. Ask them to write down what their top 3 wedding priorities are. When everyone is finished, collect them and compare notes. Ultimately, the two of you have the most sway, but it’s good to know what makes each person smile. Out of this discussion, you should be able to create your “wedding priority list”. It should act as a guide for the creation of your budget and the managing of it throughout your wedding planning.
6. Write the First “Draft”
A budget is a living document. It’s not that it “might” change – it will change. Pick a safe total number in case you run into higher prices than you imagined. Assign a dollar amount, or a percentage of the budget to each category based on YOUR priorities, not the priorities of your favorite blogger or wedding website. Do your research online and through consultations to find out what your major expenses will be. Give your budget a special place in your wedding binder, or on your mobile device, and consult it regularly.
Follow these steps and your budget will be more than just a cookie-cutter template off some app, or out of an etiquette book. It will be a meaningful reflection of the way you are starting your lives together, one step at a time. All of our clients get a customized budget tracker and extra budgeting help. Take a look at what else we offer!