How do you set a budget for your wedding, exactly? You know, the real-life way! For people who don’t have access to, or don’t have the desire to, spend a fortune on a one day celebration.
Here’s the thing about weddings today, wherever you’re from if you google “how much the average wedding costs” in your country it’s going to give you a figure at around $30, 000.
When you read that it’s very easy to simply assume that’s what you’re going to have to spend in order to have a wedding in a particular way. But I’m here to tell you that that’s not true and there are plenty of ways to have a wedding for less money, or for however much money you feel is reasonable to spend based on what’s best for you.
And that is where you’re going to need to start — figuring out what seems like a reasonable amount of money to spend for you.
You’re going to need to get together and evaluate your financial situation as it stands right here today:
- Looking at your bank accounts, what’s available?
- Do you already have savings set aside for this or are you going to need to start putting savings aside for this?
- What other big expenses do you have in your life right now? Are you planning to purchase a house, renovate a house, maybe you’re planning for your first child (or third child!)? Maybe you want to have a really big trip or honeymoon, maybe you want to change jobs, maybe someone’s going back to school to study for a Masters or a PhD?
- What other competing priorities do you have in your life that are going to require some kind of financial investment?
I want you to write all of these down on a piece of paper and put a monetary sum beside them.
Now, I want you to consider your wedding and I want you to figure out where it fits in this list in terms of priority. Is your wedding more important than renovating the kitchen or the bathroom? Is your wedding more important than that 6-month trip around South America? This is going to require you to get really clear about what’s important to you and your life right now.
Once you know where your wedding sits in terms of priority, now let’s talk about money in general and how you value money. What do you think is a reasonable amount to spend on your wedding?
Don’t think about other weddings you’ve been to before and forget about those numbers you’ve read on those wedding blogs, what do you two personally think is a figure that feels comfortable for you?
This isn’t about what you need to spend or what you’re supposed to spend this is about what makes you feel comfortable. Does spending $5,000 on a wedding feel comfortable? What about $30,000? Does that stress you out? Does that make you think “Well, surely there are other things we could be spending that money on.” or is that just a matter of, “Yeah, that feels like a good number comfortable for us. We’re not going to be stretched and it feels perfectly reasonable for the kind of celebration we think we want to have.”
Great! Once you have that number that feels comfortable to you based on your current circumstance, now it’s time to consider what external contributions may be available to you. Do you think your parents or other relatives are going to be contributing any amount of money to your wedding?
It may be a “Hell yes! They’re paying for the whole thing.” it may not be, everyone’s situation is going to be different. Be wary of assuming before you ask too because there are plenty of times where that conversation has not gone to plan.
There are two things that we need to talk about when it comes to your parents contributing to your wedding:
Firstly, as you go to approach your parents about if and how much they’re willing to contribute to your wedding celebration you need to first determine how much influence you’re willing to allow them to have on your wedding plans based on the money that they contribute…
Because we all know that sometimes that contribution is going to come with strings whether that’s them deciding who makes it to the guest list and who doesn’t — hopefully they’re not dictating the whole guest list but there are surely going to be a few extras added if they are contributing financially. Perhaps they want to have more say over the food that’s served or the wine that’s served or the venue that you choose. Maybe they’re going to ask that you get married in a church to uphold their wishes and their vision for what they believe a wedding should be. Or maybe they’re going to want to be in control of the whole thing.
So before you have that conversation you two need to decide together; what are you willing to let them contribute and give opinions on and what are you not?
Then, when you go and ask about whether they will be contributing at all you’re going to want to ask if there are terms associated with that contribution. That way you can decide “Well, actually no, we don’t want to get married in a church and we thought it might come to this and so we will graciously decline your offer to contribute because having a church ceremony is just not something that we feel comfortable with.”
Do you see what I’m getting at? You need to be really clear about what you are and are not okay with before you have that conversation.
Now, the second piece I need to mention is when it comes to accepting contributions from parents or other family members, will that contribution affect the amount that you are willing to spend and the amount that you feel is a reasonable amount to spend?
You just came up with that figure, the one that feels right to you and your financial situation and other financial priorities in your life right now. So what happens when your parents’ contribution or other people’s contributions gets added? What is your comfort level now? Is the figure that feels okay to spend on your wedding going to change? Or is it going to stay the same?
You may have decided that $20,000 is what the two of you feel good contributing. Now your parents have offered $20,000 for you to plan your wedding. What are you going to do? Are you going to up your budget to be $40,000, or $25,000, or are you going to stick to that original number that felt really good to you in the beginning and will opt to keep your savings of $20,000 in your pocket to use it towards those other competing priorities in your life?
Hopefully, you’re beginning to see that this is about so much more than just having a celebration.
You are preparing for a lifetime of happiness and experiences together and the last thing I want you to do is fall into the trap of planning a wedding that costs the amount of money that you think it’s supposed to cost and having that affect what you’re able to do in the years preceding your wedding because you are financially challenged.
There is nothing worse than entering married life with a debt because you planned a wedding that you couldn’t really afford.
Okay now the last step…
Now that you have that budget you can begin to design a vision for what your wedding will look like around that budget. This step is a little bit chicken-and-egg… maybe you’ve already decided what you want your vision to be and now that you have your budget you can actually make changes to that vision based on whether you have more or less to spend. Or maybe now that you’ve got that number you’re ready to actually decide how you’re going to use it, what kind of wedding are you going to throw?
Of course if you want help figuring that out you can download my free Wedding Planning Un Checklist. This is going to help you get clear on what you really care about and once you’ve completed that and then going to follow up with a worksheet about designing your vision so you can turn those important aspects and your purpose for why you’re even having a wedding in the first place into a vision of a celebration that is truly unique to you.
So don’t worry whether you have $5,000 or $30,000 you can plan a wedding that feels good to you just by taking the time to think about where you’re at and what is actually going to make you feel comfortable and in control of the situation.