One of the first questions I usually get when working with a new client is, “Can you help us with our budget?” It is no secret that weddings are can be an expensive party to throw and it can be daunting not knowing where to start. If you are budget conscious, it is important to have a budget and stick to it. But where do you start?
The first thing to do is have the money talk with everyone that will be contributing funds to the big day. It can be an awkward conversation but trust me, it will be worth it and will save a lot of anxiety down the road.
After that, decide what your total budget is and if there are any categories it won’t cover. For example, many of my couples don’t include their wedding bands or honeymoon in the wedding budget. Those should still be budgeted for but they may sit in a different bucket.
From there, you should work with your wedding planner to discuss your priorities. When you are working with a fixed pot of money, there will be some give and take when you sort out what aspects are most important to you. For example, if floral is really important to you, more budget should be allocated to that vendor. However, that money has to come from somewhere. Perhaps the cake budget if that is not as important to you. Wedding budgets are a huge balancing game.
While you are moving money around, your wedding planner can give you a gage of whether you are still in range of industry standards. You don’t want to make a budget category so small that you will pull your hair out trying to find someone that fit.
So, how do you figure out the categories? Typically, I allocate my client’s budget into my default proportions and then we start adjusting based on priorities. Here are the budget percentages I use to get started. Keep in mind, the guest count can completely change this and skew the “per guest” items towards the higher end.
- Venue, Catering, & Bar 40%-50%
- Wedding Planner 15% (Wedding Coordinator 3%-5%)
- Attire & Beauty 5%
- Stationary 2%-3%
- Officiant 1%
- Photography & Videography 8%-10%
- Cake 2%-3%
- Entertainment 5%-10%
- Rentals & Decor 8%-10%
- Floral 8%-10%
- Other (Transportation, Childcare, Favors, Lodging, etc.) 5%
As you can see, depending on the range and the categories you decide are necessary there is quite a bit of flex. When you start adding or cutting categories you quickly have to make adjustments to stay within 100% of your budget amount.
Finally, it is important to check in on your budget and make sure you are still on track through the process. At the end of each of my planning meetings I review the budget and see if there are any purchases that are out of range. If there are, that is ok. However, you need to re-adjust and make up for it somewhere unless you increased your total amount as a result.