Planning weddings not only take a lot of time, they also cost A LOT of money. In fact, the average Australian wedding costs an average of $36,000. Before I started planning a wedding, I thought this was absolutely crazy. What on earth were these people doing? Then in my initial enquiries, I realised how easy it would be to spend that much. But I am determined not to. I don’t want to come back from my honeymoon swimming in debt or with no money. So after setting a date, DG and I had to sit down and figure out a budget.
This is where the fun stops. No, really. Weddings are expensive. Even when you’re trying to be smart and cut corners where you can. Before you lose all your money, it’s a good idea to sit down with your groom (or bride) and decide how much money you’re prepared to spend overall, how much (if any) your parents are able or want to contribute and how much you’re willing to pay for certain aspects. Obviously, I’m not going to tell you what we’ve set the budget at or how much things cost unless I’m super surprised by how cheap/expensive something is. But I will talk you through how we came to our budget choice.
First off, you generally (and by generally, I mean this is what people have said and is what DG and I are doing) spend about half your budget on the reception. DG and I have chosen a location where included in the price per head is food, drink, room hire and furniture hire. Well done us. There are a few decorations needed but we’ve already got some really sweet ideas that won’t cost us a bundle. Reception venues are expensive. As soon as you add “wedding” into it, the cost sky-rockets. If you were to just have a “function”, it would be much cheaper.
You also need to decide what you’re happy to spend more money on. If you want to spend $3,000 on a wedding dress, go for it, but that may mean less money to spend elsewhere. I also think spending money on a good photographer is a really good idea as photos last a lifetime and luckily for me, one of my very good friends is a wedding photographer and owns a wedding photography business. These are one of the things you need to lock down pretty soon as photographers are generally booked pretty far in advance or may not be available on your chosen date, so get in there early.
When we first got engaged, I downloaded a bunch of free wedding apps. Lame, I know, but I was super excited. One of the best apps I downloaded was the “Easy Weddings” app (or as it appears in the app store “EW Planner”). For a free app, I’ve found it incredibly helpful. It has a list of suggested tasks that need to happen and a time frame suggested to complete them. There is a guest lists section and most helpfully, a budget section. You can type in how many guests and a budget amount and it gives you suggestions on how much to spend on certain things. It’s genius!
There were things they had allocated funds for which are things that we don’t want or can get for much cheaper and alternately, there were things which would cost more than they had suggested. There were also things I hadn’t even considered. Being able to see the amounts suggested was really helpful and DG and I have been using it as a basis point for our budget. There are some costs which we are unsure of at the moment but having an achievable and do-able budget to work towards makes saving much easier as I can physically see how much we need.
I also found the Setting A Budget article and the budget tracker on Newcastle Bride to be very helpful as well.
In this process, we have both been sending out enquiry emails to potential vendors and doing online and word-of-mouth research to find out what things cost and factor that into the final budget. We’re still fine tuning our budget but my best advice to any couple planning a wedding is to figure out a budget ASAP and organise accordingly. If you feel comfortable getting a loan to help pay for a wedding, go for your life, but DG and I don’t want to travel down that road.
Seeing how much things will cost, how much money we currently have, how much we are being helped by our parents has shown us how much money we need to save between now and April 2014. It’s one of the reasons we’re happy to have a 13 month engagement because it’s extra saving time. We now have a specific amount of money that is put into savings each pay to help pay for the wedding, honeymoon (remember that honeymoon’s cost money) and still have money when you return. While I still have money freak outs, we both find this system really helpful. We also like paying for things as we go so we aren’t parting with massive chunks of money all at the same time.
Nobody loves to talk about money but over the course of your marriage, it will be a constant topic of conversation (I would assume), so it’s best to learn how to talk about it and start budgeting now.
Now onto my lovely readers, do any of you have any budgeting advice to give me? What did you find helpful? What are you planning to do?