Setting the Budget for Your Big Day

planner and wedding rings
So he popped the question and you said yes! Now what? You may be feeling a little overwhelmed with all the plotting and planning that goes into preparing for the big day that you don't even know where to start. One of the first things you're going to want to do is set the all important wedding budget. Your wedding budget dictates almost every aspect or your wedding. What size or type of wedding do you want? Do you want an intimate gathering or a grand affair? How big will your guest list be? Will you plan a local wedding or a destination celebration? So many questions will be easier to answer once you set that budget. Depending on how long your engagement is you should set a basic budget as soon as you can, or at least 12 months in advance, if you have that long.

According to the January issue of Brides magazine, the average American wedding cost is around $25,000. Don't worry if this sounds too high, for you can make your wedding just as special for less. That is why you need to set your budget early on, so you don't run the risk of spending more than you can afford.

Here are a few essential questions to ask early on that will help you set your budget:

When is the wedding?
Knowing when you're going to 'tie the knot' will dictate now long you have to save up money.

Who's paying?
Traditionally the bride's family picked up nearly the whole wedding tab, now days more and more often the groom's family is contributing. Also, couples themselves now pay a good amount towards their 'I dos', especially when their tastes and wants exceed what their families can afford. When deciding who pays for what, set down with each set of parents separately and ask for a dollar amount that they are able to contribute. It also may be easier to have your parents pinpoint a certain part of the wedding that they can cover (i.e. ceremony, catering, honeymoon, alcohol/bar). If you and your fiancĂ© will be covering the tab yourselves, really focus on the next question.

How much can be saved?
As soon as you're engaged figure out how much you can afford to put aside each month. Something to consider; the longer your engagement, the more money you can stash away.

Now that these important questions have been answered, here is a formula to follow to set your budget:

wedding budget formula

Once you have pinpointed a number for your budget, it's good to have a general idea of how your budget is going to be distributed amongst the different costs of your wedding. Below is a basic distribution of costs. This can be adjusted to fit your individual wants and needs. If a destination wedding is in the plans, then you will want to set aside a larger percentage for transportation. If you know you are going to splurge on that designer gown you've been dreaming of, then other aspects of your wedding will have to be adjusted accordingly.

wedding budget distribution

Now that your budget is set, let the planning begin! Don't get stressed if your budget needs to be adjusted along the way. Just remember to stick close to your original number, you want to be able to enjoy your special day, not regret how much you over spent. Most importantly, keep in mind that it's not the amount of money you spend that makes your day special, it's that special someone you spend the day with!

Credits: Rings and planner image, Budget formula adapted from January issue of Brides magazine, Budget distribution adapted from Ashley's Bride Guide 

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