Let’s talk budget and are you financially ready to have a wedding day?
We always say, and you will hear every wedding planner saying, don’t get married in debt. It’s all very easy to follow your heart, but you have to do it responsibly too and if that means pushing back your wedding to give yourself more time to save, then you should consider doing this.
Couples get married because they want to take that next step together, they want to look after each other, they may want to start a family, but being financially aware is also critical to a healthy relationship. Money worries is a huge cause of divorce so don’t start it in debt, or you’ll be giving yourself unnecessarily stress on the get go!
So let’s have a look at one of my clients budget as I just want to show you how easy it is to go over. This is an elopement and coming in from America. It's a small group of 20 guests. They had a budget of $10,000 including planning fees. We know full well that this would take up way much more planning time that normal, as trying to find venues and suppliers that fall within such a small budget can be hard work, but we love a challenge.
However you see below, this has spiralled to £12k+ from $10,000. Also we started this before Brexit, so the exchange rate was going to be a major factor too as we had no idea where it would go, so another thing to throw into the mix. Whilst we are suggesting this is a low budget wedding, when you consider it is for only 20 guests, it’s certainly not a low budget for my couple.
Here is their budget and how we have spent it
WEDDING BUDGET Sterling
Food & Beverage £1808.00
Day Venue £600.00
Make up £745.00
Pre-shoot Transport £120.00
Planning Fees £2500.00
Evening Venue £750.00
Bus Tour £775
So why has this gone over budget?
• Well their headcount has increased over the time of our planning period, by 7 people so straight away that’s an increase of £504.00. Couples do not always appreciate the financial implication of an increased guest list. We have another blog on how to keep your guest list short here
• My clients decided to add their Bridesmaids and (adult) flower girl to their hair service, previously doing it themselves, so that’s an additional £240.00
• They decided to get an amazing floral display, one that was over £500 on its own, within the venue that was also not specifically budgeted for. You would normally try and tone down your floral elements on a smaller budget as flowers can be pricey!
• They added a private red bus tour, and why not, they are all from the USA and London is an amazing City, so it’s a lovely thing to do as their guests favours, but all of these elements come at a cost.
• They upgraded their room to a suite.
• They also increased their photography requirements. (we have useful blog on choosing your photographer here)
Thankfully I’m pleased to say that all of these over spends were chosen by the couple, not down to me as their wedding planner and I have offered to perform their ceremony (I am also a trained celebrant) so that has in fact saved them £600, so this could have been a lot higher. So this could be you. It is so easy to get carried away.
I have a friend getting married soon (sadly postponed due to the virus), she came round to get some advice for her wedding day to see where I can help her save some money but I can't tell you the amount of favours she has bought without actually noting a single cost. When we totted it up, all she could do is laugh about how much money she had spent without budgeting a single penny for this element, and she happens to be doing her wedding on a tighter budget than most.
Esty and Ebay are your best friends when it comes to wedding things in general, but they can also be your worst enemy for your budget!
Make a note of what you are spending!
What do consider?
So you need to sit down and consider what is the most important thing to you. If you are massive foodies and wine buffs, this element may be more important, but if it is to have a killer party to finish at silly o clock, keep away from the Fillet Steak and Chablis and stick with house wine and a delicious hog roast, and choose basic flowers or even seasonal flowers to keep that budget down, then you have way more to spend on lots of entertainment that is important to you. Your wedding should fully represent you both so spend your budget on what is important to you.
And remember, no one every walked away from a wedding and say those flowers weren’t all that, or didn’t think much of the food. Unless you have anyone else at your wedding that is planning their own wedding day that will 100% scrutinise every single element, there is a high chance that most guests won’t remember every little detail. They will just remember having an amazing day.
The most important thing to consider is what you want to spend. What can you afford, and if you feel that your budget is quite low for the type of wedding you would like, then then consider pushing back the date.
Where are your finances coming from?
So you have checked what budget you can afford, now find out what contribution your family may offer. This should all be added to your budget. Not everybody does this nowadays and most parents will donate something, even if only a small contribution or they may like to buy your outfit, but good to know upfront.
The other way to increase your funds, albeit you cannot rely on them, is to have a honeymoon fund as your gift list. This will at least allow you to put some money back into your very dry bank account but you cannot rely on this, you have to ensure you have your own funds to make sure you can afford it and this may help keep the draft from the door.
What else can you do to make your budget go further?
Another way to keep your budget intact would be to consider an off peak day, like Monday to Thursday which are cheaper than Friday to Sunday. You could also get married out of season, so October through to April would be cheaper months than May through to September. So if you considered Thursday before Good Friday, your guests won't have to suffer a hangover at work and you have managed to get a great deal on your venue.
And also remember if you don't spend your budget, that's fine too, don't then go mad on buying crap. I have a wedding client that gave me £40-50k for their budget and I have come in at just under £30k and that includes a £5k free bar, so we actually came in under £25. Nearly half their budget. So it’s absolutely doable to keep your budget intact if you make wise choices but just don't feel that you have to spend the full amount just because that's how much you had down to spend.
How can I keep costs under control from the start?
One of your biggest costs will be your venue and catering. So make sure you pick wisely.
TOP TIP: If you have a venue that has only one or even a handful of preferred caterers that you have to use, make sure you find out the costs of the caterers too before you sign anything. The venue may be affordable, but then the caterers may make the venue unaffordable.
You could consider things like having all your guests attend (i.e. no extra evening guest) and just get married around 4.00pm, so by the time you sit down to eat, your guests would have had their lunch and this would now be your one main evening meal with a party after, which means you shouldn't have to feed your guests twice.
If you just want to get officially married, you could always do the legal ceremony together, very intimate affair at a local registry office or even hire a room you like within a venue on an off peak day a few family members and then have a celebrant led ceremony along with a killer party much later on when you are more financially secure.
I am (or should I saw was) organising three weddings this year where the couple have got married already and now having a party to celebrate later, mind you, this will now only be one or two thanks for corona!.
So as you can see, not to take the romance away, but having a wedding comes with a lot of financial consideration before you take those all-important next steps. Make sure you are aware of each other’s financial commitment too is also important so you can make sure neither of you suffer debt if you are sharing the cost.
So what we are really saying in all of this is don‘t take on any new debt for your wedding day. There is little point getting married if you are going to put yourself in more debt. If you can’t afford the wedding that you dreamed off, wait until you can, and If you can start married life without any debt, this will naturally lead to much more fun and adventures that you could be having, if that’s not enough motivation to marry in a good financial situation, I’m not sure what is.
Happy wedding planning.