Planning a wedding is no small feat. And working out and sticking to a budget is just one of the ways wedding planning can overwhelm you. Here at Wed in The Wild, we are committed to offering the truth behind setting wedding budgets. Before we delve closer into each aspect of wedding budgeting, Valentina from The Stars Inside offers her top five tips for working out and setting your wedding budget.
Helping her couples set, manage, and understand their budget is something that Valentina considers a key part of her role as a wedding planner. As a professional in an industry where there isn’t always a lot of transparency about fees, the widely repeated fact that weddings suffer an arbitrary surcharge is actually a myth (see Valentina’s interesting delve into such myths here). It’s very important to educate people about what they’re really paying for.
For Valentina, having a positive relationship with your wedding budget means considering it with care, attention and honesty from the very beginning. Here are Valentina’s top five tips for mindful budgeting…
Start somewhere firm
“Have an open discussion together about how much you want to spend on your wedding overall, in light of savings, houses, family commitments, and all the other wonderful things that will make up your future as a married couple. If you’re planning on saving for the wedding, do consider whether it will significantly affect your quality of life in the meantime – as this can cause wedding planning memories to be tarred by resentment or regret.”
“When brainstorming on this, please hold tight to the thought that there isn’t an amount you’re supposed to spend, and there’s most certainly nothing you have to do. Also, think about whether any other parties might want to contribute to the wedding (like parents or grandparents), and what this might mean – is it just a gift, or does it come at the cost of having to run decisions by them? Either is fine, just make sure you’re all on the same page from the very beginning. If you can, try to converge all the wedding money into one account, so you can more easily keep track of ins and outs.”
Empty your thoughts onto a spreadsheet
“I would recommend creating (or downloading) a comprehensive budget breakdown spreadsheet, where each row is an element of your wedding (like flowers, entertainment, stationery, and so on) and the columns alongside it are percentages or totals. You can set expected amounts, actual amounts, and keep track of the difference. This is a tricky one to do precisely unless you have experience in the events industry or are working with a planner, because you simply won’t know exactly how much everything costs yet. But that’s ok – the key thing here is to use this exercise to decide on your priorities.”
“Highlight them, bold them, and start by apportioning larger chunks of the budget to them. Really think about where your guests are going to divert their time and attention, and whether there are other areas where you’re happy to cut back on costs. This will help you keep sight of the things that really matter as planning continues. The spreadsheet is your accountability buddy – and your peace of mind. Once you know where the money is going, it can turn budget management from a chore to an exciting part of your planning!”
Channel your inner Sherlock Holmes
Be thorough and methodical when it comes to shopping around and doing your research. Ask for quotes from a couple of different suppliers of the style you’re looking for, and really get to know how much what you’ve asked for is worth – you may have to rethink your brief, or make some compromises elsewhere. Also, there is nothing worse than feeling like you’re losing control of your budget because of hidden costs that feel unfair or unexpected, especially if contracts have already been signed.
Make sure you ask about things like: VAT & service charges, overtime beyond agreed hire hours, corkage, clean-up & break-down costs, fees for bringing in non-approved suppliers, commission, alterations and trial fees, additional charges for hosting ceremonies, supplier meals/expenses/accommodation, and postage and delivery. Asking lots of questions and fully itemised quotes from all of your suppliers is definitely not something you should feel guilty about, and is very good practice. The more educated you are, the more you can have a respectful, professional, and productive conversation with your vendors.
Stay flexible and open-minded
If the budget you’ve set is strict, definitely don’t let that make you feel inadequate or sad. Stand your ground and be open to finding creative solutions to make that budget viable. For example, something as simple as looking outside of peak summer season, or at weekdays instead of weekends, can alter the fees dramatically, and bring a venue or a supplier well into your budget.
Another very effective decision is changing the scale – a 60-guest wedding will give you much more room to breathe on budget than a 120-guest wedding, due to the way everything scales up per guest. By staying flexible, you can let your florist offer you less expensive seasonal options – you can let your caterer suggest less formal dining ideas – and just generally let your suppliers help you find the best alternative.
When emotions (and expenses) are running high, it’s really difficult to feel grounded and positive, and I think the secret is to keep your finger on the pulse of your WHY. If your priority is making sure guests have the party of a lifetime, then focus your budget on the things that will make a direct difference to that – and when that money is being spent, remind yourself that it was your choice, and, though it feels intangible until the wedding day comes, that the experience of the day will be so much larger than the sum of its parts.
You have to close doors at some point because, unless you have an unlimited budget, you can’t do it all. But the doors you’ve chosen to keep open will make this day as awesome and unique as you.
If you’d like to have a chat with Valentina, or would like some help with planning your wedding, don’t hesitate to get in touch!
Photography | Nataly J Photography
Stylist | The Stars Inside