The Only 4 Steps You Need to Set a Wedding Budget

Alright y’all, it’s time we had the talk. You know the one. Okay, maybe you don’t. Today we’re going to talk all about sitting down with your fiance and setting a wedding budget! Setting your wedding budget is probably one of the biggest steps in the wedding planning process and my goal is to make it as hassle free as possible. Wednesday’s are all about weddings around here so let’s hop right into the dirt!

First, a little background. Justin and I looked at our first venue BEFORE we sat down and actually set a wedding budget (or had any grasp of how much weddings in our area typically cost). To some people, that might not be that big of a deal but it was because we A.) had no idea how much weddings in our area cost and B.) didn’t even have a rough estimate of how much we were willing to spend on our wedding. While it’s all worked out so far my job here is to help other brides avoid making the same mistakes that I did while making wedding planning less stressful. So let’s dive right into the less stress, shall we?

Set Your Priorities

The very first thing you and your fiance should do before you begin calculating your wedding budget is to set your priorities for the wedding. Think about your absolute MUST HAVE items that you’re just not willing to compromise on. For most couples, wedding photography is going to be a top priority because those pictures are what you’ll have to look back on for the rest of your lives together. Kind of a big deal! Wedding videography, venue, and wedding dress can also be priorities for some couples. For Justin and I, we knew photography was going to be at the top of our list because we had a photographer in mind well before we were even engaged (PS: if you’re in the Hudson Valley Area of New York, check out her work here). Since we also do YouTube, having a wedding video was also important to us (though we debated back and forth about it but more on that later). Your priority list is going to be what you and your fiance aren’t willing to compromise on having or on spending a little extra money on to get what you want so setting these before you figure out your budget will allow you to allocate funds to those items immediately!

Research Wedding Costs

In order to have a realistic budget for your wedding, you and your fiance are going to have to do a little digging into what weddings typically cost in your area. Researching wedding costs before we set our budget was definitely not something Justin and I did but man, I wish we had! Looking at costs for the average wedding in your area, different photographers, videographers, etc. will make it easier for you to plan an overall budget, but also help you to ease tension with family members who are contributing. I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to have to explain to family over and over that weddings just cost more where we’re located! If we had done our research, we would have been more prepared to discuss our budget and big ticket priorities like photography with family.

Determine What YOUR Budget Is

Remember back in 5 Steps to Kick Start Your Wedding Planning how I said to make wedding planning a date night? Setting your wedding budget is going to be one of those topics you’re going to want to set aside a predetermined date and time to discuss. Budgets and money are often automatic stressors for anyone, let alone a newly engaged couple. Once you and your fiance have put together your priority list, it’s time to talk about how much the two of you actually have to contribute to your wedding budget. There are many ways to do this from how much the two of you can save over the course of your engagement, to how much you have in savings, etc. Justin and I had a unique situation in which he had money saved from a loan West Point Cadets receive from USAA their junior year (called the Cow Loan) so we knew going into wedding planning that we would have this money and would be able to make a rather large contribution to our wedding budget ourselves. If it wasn’t for this, we wouldn’t be having the caliber of wedding that we are. It’s important to remember that the most important thing is that you and your fiance are getting married so how much or how little you spend on your wedding shouldn’t matter!

Talk to Family

Asking family for money is always an uncomfortable situation. If you’re family has already been upfront with you about whether or not they can contribute then you can skip this step. For those of you who are unsure about how to discuss budget with your family, I would do something similar with setting a date night for you and your fiance. Have your fiance take his/her parents to lunch while you do the same with yours. Been open and honest about how much weddings cost, what you guys have determined you can contribute and then simply ask them about whether or not they can make contributions. It’s important to also assure them that anything helps, no matter how big or how small. Even if they can’t contribute financially, let them know that you also appreciate their help in the planning process, coordination of activities and family members, and any DIY projects you may have planned.

Remember, money is always a stressor but that doesn’t mean setting a wedding budget needs to take the fun out of wedding planning! Communication is key when it comes to setting a budget for your wedding so remember to always keep talking to your fiance and family about pricing of vendors and your overall budget.