How to Stick to Your Wedding Budget
Oops – they did it again. Nearly half of all couples report spending more on the wedding than originally planned. These budgeting tips will help you stay on track.
Step 1: Get a Budgeting System
Establish a reliable method to keep track of all expenditures. Try to keep your wedding fund separate from your personal accounts, so you can easily determine what’s being spent on the wedding.
Step 2: Prepare to Go Over
Set aside five percent of your budget for a just-in-case fund. If you absolutely cannot exceed $20,000, aim to spend $19,000. When last-minute costs come up (and they will), your reserve funds will save you from debt.
Some common costs you may not have considered when setting your initial budget:
- Tips for your vendors – 15–25% is customary for certain services. Read more on how much and which vendors to tip
- Trial runs - make-up and hairstyling – about $20–$100 each
- Overtime fees if your reception goes longer than expected – anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars
- Last-minute dress cleanings or tux pressings – anywhere from $50–$100 each
- Postage for invitations and stamps for RSVPs – cost depends on how heavy your mailings are and how many you send
- Marriage license fees – approximately $15–$90; depending on state
Step 3: Cut Back
Serve three courses instead of five (save on catering). Have four bridesmaids instead of 10 (save on bouquets and gifts). Invite 150 guests instead of 200 (save on almost everything).
Step 4: Beware the Up-Sell
With every detail planned, someone is going to try to up-sell you. Don’t crack under pressure! The fabulous designer dress, the top-shelf bar, the succulent lobster tail – they all seem like good ideas at the time, but be wary that all of these upgrades add up. The key is to prioritize beforehand. If you want to serve an elaborate five-course meal with all the bells and whistles, you may have to sacrifice your dream of a 10-piece ensemble.
Step 5: Tighten the Purse Strings
Here’s a goal: Try to save 20% of your income for your wedding expenses. It may sound impossible, but there are easy ways to cut corners in your personal life to make saving for your wedding a tad easier. Simple lifestyle changes like brown bagging your lunch to work, cooking meals at home, brewing your own coffee, renting a DVD instead of pricey trips to the theatre, and inviting your friends over instead of expensive evenings at the club all add up to substantial savings. The best part? You can take these thrifty habits into your marriage – and make it easier to save for other big ticket items like a new home, vacations, or a college fund.