Budgeting Basics for Wedding Planning

Ian RamirezWedding Tips

Bride and Groom at Madera Estates near The Woodlands, TX

Budgeting Basics for Wedding Planning

Budgeting. It’s not necessarily the most enjoyable thing to do in life. Without it though, you’ll likely find yourself with a myriad of headaches! For some, budgeting may seem like second nature. On the contrary, for others, it may be one of the toughest things to do each year and stick to consistently. 

Luckily, the skill of creating and sticking to a budget can benefit you in so many areas, with one of those being planning a wedding! For a lot of couples, wedding planning very well may be the first time you’ve ever considered planning a huge event. Going right along with this, you’ve likely heard words like “expensive and stressful” tossed around when it comes to planning a wedding. There’s no denying the fact that the process can easily become expensive and stressful. However, an important caveat to keep in mind here is the fact that it only becomes like this when handled incorrectly. Without a budget in place, you might find yourself quickly doubling or tripling what you might’ve initially expected! Not only does this cause a financial toll, but it can create added stress that you don’t need as you approach your big day!

Having attended countless weddings, I wanted to approach this week’s blog post with more of an educational mindset. Budgeting, understanding the various vendors needed, as well as the in’s and out’s of where you can save a few bucks, all immediately come to mind. With this said, let’s get right into a few pro tips to keep in mind on what we like to call “Budgeting Basics for Wedding Planning.”

Who’s Paying for What?

Typically, couples start their wedding planning with two steps: (1) Figure out what your vision looks like for the wedding and (2) How much are you looking to spend. While these are terrific preliminary items to take care of, the problem is it’s nearly impossible to fully solidify how much you’ll be spending until you really get down to the numbers. Once the planning starts, you’ll begin to get a better idea of what all needs to be included. Sometimes, this means that initial budget is much lower than it should be, while other times it might still work. In any case, planning requires a little more work before finalizing a budget number!

Having said that, a great first step is to ask yourself, “Who’s paying for what?” Obviously, this is not the easiest conversation to have and it may even seem a little awkward initially, but it remains a critical question. The Knot actually has a checklist already mapped out detailing the traditional approach of how it’s split between the bride and groom’s families. Just remember that these aren’t locked-in rules, but rather guidelines. The best approach is to have conversations with everyone and find what works best. Additionally, it’s important to consider how much you as a couple would like to contribute. The Knot did a poll in 2017 of all couples in the planning stages or just married and found that 89% said they’re planning to contribute financially, though the capacity varied.

Guest Count

The variable that has arguably the largest impact on increasing or decreasing a wedding cost is the guest count! As you’ll see in wedding planning, there’s a per-head cost for food and liquor, which happens to be one of the most expensive line items on your wedding budget. At the same time, the higher your guest count, the more you’ll need to spend on other items, such as favors, stationary and so on! Obviously, we’re not advocating for you to immediately start taking people off your list, but it’s certainly something to keep in the back of your head! For example, if your per-head amount is at $75, taking 10 people off would save $750.

An excellent opening approach is to go venue shopping before anything else. With guest count being so critical to your overall budget, remember that your venue has a major say in how many guests you can actually have. Before you complete any venue tours, compile a rough estimate on how many guests you envision having. Additionally, be sure to ask the venue director on what their actual “max capacity” is compared to their “optimal capacity.” As you might guess, there’s a significant difference between the two and the last thing you want is everyone crammed together for the reception! Be sure to check out our recent blog post to learn more on why locking down your venue is a great first step!

Know the Numbers!

Unless you’ve planned a major event before, you’re likely throwing darts when it comes time to arrive at a locked-in budget. It never hurts to do a little research and determine what most weddings are going for. While you don’t have to spend that exact amount, it can definitely help in the planning stages! Wedding Wire compiles a newly wed report each year and their 2019 report found “on average, couples expect to pay $16,000, but end up spending roughly $29,000 on their wedding.” The reason for this significant difference? “Nearly 80% of couples set a rough budget prior to researching any vendors – often times under-estimating the cost of products and services.”

Smart Money!

In today’s world, there’s so many options available to not only find great deals, but also ensuring you’re being smart with your money! A pro tip on wedding planning is to utilize credit cards with point or reward systems. If you’re already going to be spending the money, why not get some free miles and put those toward the honeymoon?!

Keep Track of Costs!

Unless your fiance is an accountant, keeping track of expenditures along the way might not be how you envision spending your free time! Nonetheless, it’s something you must do! If you’ve already done everything in the above sections, hopefully you’ve been able to lock in budgetary numbers. Now, it’s time to stick to those figures! The best way to handle this is to get everything written down. Consider using an Excel or Google Sheet to jot them down. In doing so, make sure to leave a little bit of wiggle room. The percentage of wiggle room depends on you, but 5% is a great starting place. 

While keeping track of your costs, make sure there’s no surprises when it comes to hidden costs and that you account for absolutely everything! Think of things like service fees, overtime charges for photographers and videographers, tips for the vendors and so on.

Take a Walk Through Madera!

Here at Madera Estates, our goal has always been to provide couples with the ability to truly craft every aspect of their dream wedding and create a seamless process along the way. We want you to focus on specific details of your vision and we’ll work to remove any logistics-based headaches! At the same time, as you’ve seen throughout this article, budgeting is a key component. Having hosted hundreds of weddings, we have a solid grasp of what everything runs and can help in this planning process.

To provide some brief numbers, our all-inclusive wedding packages typically range from $14,000 to $40,000, depending what your vision looks like. Additionally, since we offer a wide array of packages (not solely all-inclusive ones), we’re able to build your wedding day around your vision, as opposed to you building it around the venue! You’re more than welcome to book a complimentary tour to see Madera in-person and determine if it’s the right choice for your big day.