Building a Wedding Budget
If there is any question we hear more often than not, it would have to be; “How much does a typical wedding cost?” Many couples are surprised to learn just how expensive a wedding can be. We’ve done a little research and found that the average wedding is reported to be between $25000 and $40000. For a young couple just starting their lives together, this can be a little scary. Yet, with some careful planning and creative prioritizing, a budget can be easily reached.
Here are a few suggestions to get you started:
1) Think carefully about wants versus needs. A horse-drawn carriage may make you feel like Cinderella, but is it really something you need or an expense that will fit your budget?
2) Make a list, don’t try to wing it. Include everything for which you’ll need to budget, much like the list below.
- Dress – and necessary accessories
- Hair and makeup
- Invitations and save the dates
- Bridesmaid dresses
- Tuxedos and groomsmen attire
- Wedding cake
3) Seek the help of professionals, like a wedding planner, who know the industry.
Most wedding planners agree, the venue is square one. The location for your ceremony and reception sets the tone for the entire day, and paints a backdrop for all the wonderful memories being created. Most venues and caterers won’t offer a price until an initial guest count is created. It’s important to consider what is included in the venue rental. Are chairs included or must they be rented? Is there an in-house caterer? The venue and catering will make up the lion’s share of a wedding budget, but there is wiggle room if necessary. For example, how many courses are being served? Is it a formal sit down affair or buffet style? Chicken and pasta, or steak and lobster?
With a venue in place, or at least in consideration, photography should fall next in line. Wedding Planners almost always agree, once the stage is set, photography is perhaps the most important decision. Once your wedding day is over, and for generations to come, all that remains are the memories locked forever in time by your wedding photographer and cinematographer. Professional photography isn’t inexpensive, so be sure to plan for it. In the US, the average wedding photography and cinematography package makes up 15-25 percent of a wedding budget.
Traditional, décor can also consume a lot of the wedding budget. But with the emergence of the do-it-yourself bride, a budget can be supplemented with some personalized centerpieces, party favors, etc. Keep in mind; even if you create your own centerpieces and other decor, there are still costs to be considered.
Like many other things in life, the rest of your budget becomes “want vs. need.” Transportation expenses can be reduced by having a family member do the driving in place of a limo. If your floral budget allows, flower petals can be scattered down the aisle. The wedding cake is a memory everyone will take with them, and is often one of the most personal touches the couple puts on their wedding. Many brides have a special “groom’s cake” made when the budget allows. A larger budget may also allow for a more ornate cake with fresh flowers, custom decorations and a unique cake topper. A smaller budget may mean a ceremonial cake provided by the venue, with sheet cakes cut and plated in the kitchen for your guests. Cash bar or no-host (pay per drink)? Rented tux or custom tailored? Buy a gown or rent something extravagant? Whatever your desires on your wedding day, planning is the key and deciding what parts of your budget are “want” and which are “need” can help even the most frugal couple save a little money.
In the end, no two weddings are ever the same. With a little careful planning and a basic understanding of what each item on your list will actually cost, your wedding day can fulfill your every fantasy, and the memories captured by your wedding photographer will last a lifetime … indeed, for many lifetimes to come.