I know. Us Brits don’t really like to talk about money. But when it comes to wedding planning, it’s a must.
Thankfully, it’s one of those things on the ‘do this first’ list so you can get it over with quickly! OK so there might need to be a slightly awkward conversation or two, but once you know how much you have to spend, the rest of your wedding planning will be a lot easier.
It’s fair to say that weddings can set you back a pretty penny. We’ve all heard of someone who knows someone who had an amazing wedding for £100 and still had change for the bus home, and of course it is entirely possible to marry on a shoestring budget, BUT if you’re looking at a relatively traditional format for your day, it’s just a fact that there are certain things you’ll be looking to pay for.
Venue, catering, outfits and photography are all fairly standard elements of a traditional wedding. They also happen to be some of the most expensive. Costs can easily mount up and it can happen before you realise it. So, with this in mind, come a few things to consider…
Ascertain budget, agree priorities, divvy up expenditure – and be prepared to compromise!
I know, I’m such a joy thief. But honestly, it’s all too easy to let the enthusiasm take over and rushing into booking suppliers could result some desperate last minute finance fumbling if the budget hasn’t been properly allocated.
Think about the things that are really important to you, get an idea of general costings and make sure you’ve got enough to cover everything. You might need to compromise in some areas to get what you want in others.
First up is the inevitable question of who’s paying. Bride’s parents, the couple, contributions from both sets of parents, a mixture of all of these? It’s not an easy subject, but if you suspect that people other than yourselves will want to contribute, those conversations really need to be broached early on – or at the very least not accounted for in the budget until they’re confirmed.
Of course, if other people are contributing to your wedding, the other issue to consider is what level of control they will expect in return – but that’s an article for another day!
For now, let’s work on the basis that you’ve had the conversations. You know what your budget is, and you’ve worked out which parts of your wedding are the most important to you.
Now you know what your magic figure is, everything else can follow. But even then, it’s not straightforward. There’s no set rule as to what percentage of your budget should be allocated to which areas. Different couples have different priorities. Where one bride might want to spend nothing less than £4000 on her dress, another might baulk at the idea of spending any more than £200. Same for caterer, venue, photographer….
So where do you start? How do you even go about working out what to allocate where?
A good place to start is looking at an ‘average’ UK wedding. Seeing how the pennies break down for a typical wedding gets you off the starting blocks. Reports vary on what the average wedding costs, and how budget is allocated, so I’ve looked at several sources and come up with what I think seems to represent general spend:
Total budget: approx. £20,000
Wedding venue £2,000
Reception venue £3,000
Bridal wear £1500
Groom wear £300
Wedding rings £1000
This is just a very rough guide – your priorities might be different, you might have more to spend, or less. What you need to know is that you can achieve a beautiful wedding whatever your budget, but being spend-savvy will pay off in more ways than one.
So you’ve got your total budget, you know what your priorities are, and you’ve got a good idea of what you’ll be spend on what.
Now. Write it down. I’m no Excel expert but I do love a good spreadsheet. All you need are three simple columns – item, budgeted amount and actual amount spent. Keep a running total of what you’ve spent and had left. Voila. You’re a money managing marvel.
I know it seems obvious, but be sure to keep your budget spreadsheet up to date. Keep track of what you’ve spent and what you have left. Be aware of what you’ve budgeted for specific items and try to stick to that. If you have to increase budget in one area, compromise in another.
Happy ever after
Planning a wedding is huge, and can be an expensive affair. Communication, planning and compromise are going to play a big part in the journey. Going into it with your eyes open will make for smooth sailing. Enjoy!