The experiences on your wedding day are priceless, however paying for them is not. You don’t need to spend a fortune in order for your Big Day to be spectacular. Low cost weddings can be high in quality if you budget and plan carefully.
Gather Together your Funds
- Are your parents contributing? After you and your fiancé have decided on a date for the wedding, sit down with your parents and ask them if they are interested in contributing to your Big Day. Be gracious and understanding if they can give less than you had hoped for, times are tough. Try and get a specific dollar amount, however small, so you can begin the budgeting and planning process. It is important to remember that when family contributes to the Big Day, they often expect to have some sort of say in the wedding planning process.
- Save up. Start saving at least one year before your wedding date so you will be able to pay for everything without going into debt if at all possible. Try to put away 10 to 20 percent of your pay check every month towards the wedding. I suggest opening a separate bank account for your wedding that has high interest. I have had a great experience using ING Direct, an online bank. You could also look into opening a certificate of deposit (CD) account at a bank to gain interest on larger sums of money.
Carefully Plan your Spending
- The bottom line. Add your resources together – include your savings, how much interest you will earn in CDs and savings accounts at the time, and what family members are willing to contribute. This sum is the maximum amount that you can spend. Keep in mind that most couples go over their budget 10 to 12 percent more than they plan. For this reason set your wedding’s bottom spending line 15 percent below what you can really afford to spend.
- Make up the budget. Write up a budget worksheet for your wedding. There are many worksheets available for weddings – simply searching “free wedding budget worksheet” on a search engine gives you plenty of helpful worksheet options to print and download. In my opinion the best way to budget your wedding is to divide your spending into percentages.
- 50%: Reception
- (Venue, rentals, food, service, beverages, cake)
- 10%: Attire
- (Gown, veil, accessories, hair and makeup, tuxedo)
- 10%: Decorations
- (Floral arrangements, flower girl's buds, ring pillow, bouquets, boutonnieres, corsages, reception decorations, lighting)
- 10%: Music
- (Ceremony, Reception deejay, musicians, band, entertainment, sound system, dance floor)
- 10%: Photography and Videography
- 2%: Ceremony
- (location, church donation)
- 2%: Stationary
- (save the date cards, invitations, programs, placement cards, menus, thank-you notes)
- 2%: Wedding rings
- 1%: Transportation
- (car for bride and groom, car for bridal party, out of town guests, valet parking)
- Avoid going into debt. Try not to draw out money from retirement accounts (IRA’s or 401K’s) or take out loans to pay for your wedding. Before you ever use a credit card have a plan in place to pay back what you spend.
- Watch for hidden expenses. Always expect a surcharge to be added to a bill. Always ask vendors what kinds of taxes and charges will be added to the final bill before you sign any contracts. Corkage fees, cake cutting fees, and transportation fees can quickly rack up. Make sure to take surcharges into account when planning your budget.
- Use other sources. Put up notices of what you are looking for when planning your wedding. Work place bulletins, church announcement pages, and Facebook are great places to access acquaintances with talents that can help keep you from going over budget. You may be able to find someone to bake your cake, help you replicate a designer gown, cater, photograph, video, or do flower arrangements for half the price.