If you know anything about me, you know I can talk about budgets all day. I’m really good at budget stuff; it’s my happy place 🙂
That’s why I’m SUPER excited about today’s article about how to come up with a budget for your wedding.
(By the way, I truly believe that the very first thing you should do after you get engaged and before you start planning your big day is to come up with your wedding budget. Even before you start exploring possible wedding dates – do the wedding budget first.)
Even if you hate budgets, I think you’ll today’s article because I’m going to make this a quick, easy, and painless process. I promise. That said, let’s dive right in!
Three Simple Steps to Create Your Wedding Budget
Here’s a brief overview of my three-step process:
- First, figure out how much each of you can contribute each month towards the wedding
- Second, decide how many months you’re willing to contribute towards the wedding
- Finally, multiply the total monthly contribution amount (result from step #1) by the total number months you’re planning to make the contributions (result from step #2) – the result is your grand total wedding budget.
That’s it! I promise that’s all it takes.
Before we dive into the details of each step, I should note three things about this process:
- You don’t need to have a wedding date in mind (or even a general time frame!) to create your budget. Even if you have absolutely no clue when your wedding will be, you can still complete all three steps right now.
- This process assumes that you and your partner will be paying for the entire wedding yourselves from your monthly income. (But don’t worry! I’ve included some tips below in case you have other financial resources.)
- In order for this to work, you have to make sure that whatever amount you choose to contribute on a monthly basis is realistic and sustainable. Contribute the same amount (at least) every single month – otherwise, this whole thing falls apart.
Now, let me give you a little more detail about how to complete each step effectively.
Step 1: Your Total Monthly Contribution
- To complete this step, take a close look at your monthly income and expenses
- Determine how much you can consistently put away each month for the wedding (you might need to cut your spending in some areas, or contribute less towards your savings)
- Come up with each of your monthly contributions, add them together, and now you have your total monthly contribution. Write down your result.
- For example: if one of you can save $200/month and the other can save $300/month – your total monthly contribution is $500/month
Step 2: Number of Months
- For how many months will you be able to make these monthly contributions? Things to consider: Will your income change in the near future? Do you have any major financial commitments coming up?
- How many months are you willing to make these monthly contributions? Things to consider: What are your financial goals? Are you willing to delay those goals in order to pay for the wedding?
- Pick a period of time that you both feel comfortable with and write it down (in number of months).
- For example: if you both agree to make contributions for three years, write down 36 months.
Step 3: Your Grand Total
- Take your total monthly contribution from Step #1 and multiply it by the total number of months that you figured out in Step #2. The result is the grand total for your wedding budget!
- The grand total is literally the bottom line of your wedding budget – that’s how much you can afford to spend on your wedding.
- For example: Let’s say your total monthly contribution is $500/month, and you agree to save that amount for 36 months. Multiply $500/month by 36 months to get a grand total of $18,000 for your wedding budget.
And that’s how you come up with your wedding budget. I told you it was an easy process!
Other Financial Resources to Consider (Besides Your Monthly Income)
If you’re not paying for the entire wedding out of your monthly income, take inventory of all available financial resources (i.e. funds that you already have on hand). There are tons of possibilities here, but here are three main places to look:
- Have either of you already saved money for the wedding? Maybe you’ve been planning to get married for a while, and you’ve been slowly saving up for the wedding – if this is the case, count up the funds and list it.
- If you have NOT saved up specifically for the wedding, do you have any savings that you could use to pay for the wedding? Note: it’s ok to use some savings, but don’t go overboard! Remember, emergencies could still happen, so you want to hold on to some of that cash!
Credit Card Points
- Do you have a nice accumulation of credit card points that you’ve been saving up for a rainy day? Unless you have plans for these points, your wedding is a great reason to use them!
- Tally up how many cash back credit cards points you have available to put towards your wedding expenses.
- If you’ve received any monetary gifts to put towards the wedding – awesome! You can count these funds in your available funds. Write this down and add it to your running total.
- Tip: don’t count on any gift money unless you have the money in your hand! (See next week’s article for more information about this.)
Then, add it all up. If you have any funds available from the resources above (or other resources we haven’t covered here), add up the amounts to figure out your total available funds. Add this number to your current wedding budget – and now you have your new budget total!
What If You’re Not Happy with Your Budget?
Let’s say you’ve read through this guide and you’ve taken all the steps – but you’re not happy with your budget. Maybe it’s much lower than you were expecting, maybe your budget won’t be enough to fund your “dream” wedding. Whatever the case, you have some options.
Here are a few things you can do to increase your budget:
- You can increase your monthly contribution – take another look at your monthly cash flow and see if there are things you can forgo for a few months. For example, you cut back on dining out or entertainment.
- You can postpone your wedding date so that you have more time to save up for the kind of wedding you want. For example, you could agree to save up for three years instead of one or two years.
- You can borrow money to pay for the wedding. That’s right: you have the option of taking on some wedding debt.
If you prefer to work within your current budget, even if you think it’s low – there are plenty of ways to save money on your wedding! Here are just a few things you can do to get the most out of your budget:
- Get married on a weekday, or in the off-peak wedding season – or both! (We did this and it saved us thousands!)
- Keep your guest list under control – this is a major factor that takes up a big chunk of your wedding budget.
- Always negotiate. (We negotiated absolutely everything – and we saved nearly $15,000.)
It takes no time at all to create a budget following the three simple steps above. That’s the easy part.
I think the most challenging part of creating a budget is having the money talk with your partner – and coming to an agreement when you have totally different perspectives. Trust me, I’ve been there …
For example, Luis and I had to compromise on a lot of things. I wanted to have a smaller wedding and get married sooner; Luis wanted to have a much larger wedding later. We ended up deciding on something in the middle. Once we came to an agreement, we were fully committed and it all worked out!
It can take many discussions over time to agree on the big picture stuff, especially when there’s a significant amount of money involved – but hey, those are the kinds of conversations you’ll have when you’re married!