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5 Steps to Creating Your Wedding Budget


As Dave Ramsey says, "Either you manage your money or the lack of it will always manage you." My mom used to say that you'll either pay now or pay later. And isn't it just like a wedding to bring out alllll the things about money?! Weddings can suck your money faster more than any other event, but there are some steps you can take to make sure that your wedding is beautiful, sticks to a budget AND you're all still talking to each other at the end of it. ;)


1. PUT AN ACTUAL HARD NUMBER TO YOUR BUDGET

Gather all your resources and people that are contributing and make sure everyone involved knows everyone else's numbers. The worst thing you can say is, "Oh, his parents are helping out a little too." What does helping out mean? Does that mean $1,000 or does that mean $7,000? Get a hard number from all the parents or grandparents involved and NEVER assume what you think people are going to contribute. Want a good rule of thumb? Plan your wedding just based on you and your fiance's income (try to stick to no more than 40% of your annual income) and then once you find out the extras you'll know where you can pad. But just assume you're paying for it unless the parents come in with hard numbers.


2. SPIT SHAKE AND PINKY SWEAR

No matter what, stick to that budget. If you can't feed 150 people a nice dinner, hire a photographer and buy a dress then it's time to downsize. Play hard ball with yourself and give yourself the best that you actually can afford. It's still a party with 75 guests.


3. DON'T BUY YOUR DRESS FIRST

As a percentage of your budget your dress is probably a lower percentage of your overall budget. But it's generally what we buy first! Because of that, don't rob your other major categories such as the reception hall or photographer. It would suck to find a photographer that you love only to find that they're a $1,000 out of your budget. There are a million dresses on the market in every price range, and you'll narrow your search when you know what you're spending on a dress. It's "oooh I love this, let's get it" vs. "I have $XX dollars and need to find something I love in that price range." This is by far a better way to hunt! ;) The same goes for all the categories that are 5% or less of your budget.


4. DON'T FORGET TIPS

For the record, most vendors don't expect tips. But just like you'd tips a waiter who served you well it's always nice to applaud the performance of your vendors with a little extra. Is it required? Absolutely not! Can you leave it in your budget? Absolutely! Will you do it if you're broke and didn't put it in your budget? Nope. ;) Your vendors will serve you well even after the wedding if you give them a little extra "applause."


5. SAVE THE EXTRA

Good news! Your family came through and decided to give you extra money right at the very end--I know it's sooo tempting to put it towards a little bit of extra things for the wedding, but stick to your budget and everything that comes in above the original budget can go into a savings account. Those first few months of combining incomes, learning each other's spending habits and unexpected expenses (because life), it'll be so nice to have a little padding in your savings account to start off your married life. The party will still have happened, it'll still have been beautiful and after the day is over, you're not broke and your savings account is smiling. Plus, how nice will your honeymoon be if the expenses of your wedding don't follow you to the beach?! ;)


Happy wedding planning! Did you find these helpful? I'd love if you'd share it with your other bride friends!


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Deanna Chapa is a wedding and lifestyle photographer serving Gilroy, Morgan Hill, San Jose and the greater Bay Area. Interested in having me take your family photos?
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