You’re planning for the perfect wedding, but will you put the same amount of attention into planning your wedding budget? Knowing how much money you have to work with will help you plan a wedding that satisfies both your dreams and finances. While budgeting can be a daunting task, consider how the average cost of weddings in the U.S. has risen over the years, reaching $33,000 in 20161. Here are some tips to help you get started – whether you’re helping finance your child’s nuptials or your own.
Set expectations. The bride, groom and parents on each side may each have different thoughts about the ideal wedding. If you’re the bride or the groom, talk with your partner about what aspects of the wedding are most important to you. If you’re a parent, talk openly with the couple to hear their expectations.
Decide on a location. Do you have your heart set on a destination wedding? That’s great, as long as you’re prepared to incur the added expense of airfare and accommodations (and manage the logistical challenges of long-distance event planning). However, it’s common for destination weddings to have a smaller guest list, which may help balance the budget.
Put the wedding in perspective. Couples beginning a life together will likely have other financial goals, such as paying off student loans, a new car purchase or a down payment on a home. Discuss the priority and ideal timeframe of each goal to know when your financial obligations are due (if you’re a parent, determine if and how much you’ll help). Then, consider how your wedding budget fits in to those other priorities. Consider working with a financial advisor who can provide an objective look at your financial picture.
Determine who’s paying for what. It’s important to have a frank conversation as early as possible to clarify who plans to contribute and how much. If you are receiving a check from another well-wisher be clear on what, if any, expectations are tied to the money given. It’s common for others to want a say in the wedding decisions if they’ve contributed financially. Being clear up front may eliminate awkwardness tied to the gift down the road.
Manage cash flow. Cash flow can be tricky, even when your finances are in great shape. Ensure you understand how each vendor expects to be paid so you can plan your budget accordingly. Some expenses may need to be paid in full to book the services, while others may require a down payment or payment in installments leading up to the wedding.
Enlist a professional planner. If you don’t enjoy rigorous planning, or can’t afford the time it takes, consider hiring a wedding planning professional. While it is an added cost, the right planner will work within your budget to obtain the best vendors and help coordinate the big day.