How to Budget for a Wedding (part 1)
Wedding budgeting tips from some of the best wedding planners in Vancouver
Knowing how to budget for a wedding can be tricky…plus, you may want to consider saving some extra money for your honeymoon! We asked some of the best wedding planners in Vancouver for some tips on how to budget for a wedding. Here’s what they shared:
“Be sure you have a good understanding of all the costs before setting anything in stone – especially your venue and guest list. Guest count typically has the biggest influence on the budget. Your venue, food, and beverage will most often account for about 50% of the entire wedding budget. If you have your heart set on a specific photographer, band or another unique element that will be a significant cost, you may decide to reduce your guest list to make room in the budget, which will, in turn, affect the size of venue you need.
Also, communication with your families about who is paying for what is key from the get-go. It can be an awkward conversation for some people, but it’s crucial for everyone to plan and budget effectively. Financial surprises are never fun.
Another thing to keep in mind is that your spending doesn’t happen all at once. A large chunk of your wedding budget will be paid early on in deposits and the remainder in the final month before the day. Often this is spread out over a year or two which can make the total a little easier to stomach.
Lastly, be clear on which items will be included in your overall budget and which won’t. For example, you may spend a couple hundred dollars on gifts for your wedding party, or your mom might want to purchase your wedding dress as a gift.
Hiring a wedding planner, even if it’s just on an hourly basis, to create a realistic budget for you is a good idea. It could save you a lot of money in the long run.”
“Budget & family dynamics are the two most stressful parts of any wedding planning journey. Couples often set themselves up for disaster by setting a budget that sounds like a lot without knowing if in fact it is realistic or makes sense with their guest numbers and expectations.
The first thing that needs to happen before setting a budget is you need to ask yourself who must be at our wedding? what type of wedding do we want? what’s most important to us? (and you can’t say everything because not everyone can afford everything at the level they want), and then work from there figuring out how much the food and drinks at the venue of your choice based on the number of guests you anticipate will cost.
Once you have this budget number which is often 40-60% of the overall wedding cost then you can set your budget. If it turns out to be a scary number – and it often is as people don’t realize in the beginning just how much it costs to host a wedding in Vancouver (for example 120 people for a full night of food and drinks plus gratuity and taxes which adds 25% to your bill alone) – then you need to go back to the drawing board and determine what you are going to do to bring the estimated budget down. Closing your eyes and just wanting it to work isn’t an option.
These decisions often include reducing guest numbers, hosting a brunch or lunch affair rather than a dinner or maybe a later night champagne dessert candlelight ceremony and reception, having a smaller wedding party, forgoing luxury services like fancy cars and videography, etc.
Certainly cutting guest numbers is where you have the most power because typically a hosted night will run couples anywhere from $125 on the low end to $250 on the high end per person. Times that by 30 guests for example that $3-8K right there and all of a sudden your neighbours and friends of friends might best be left off the guest list.”
“Before you put pen to paper and start creating your wedding budget, it’s imperative that your priorities are in order, meaning your dreams are realistic and your budget to match!
Here’s the secret to creating and using a budget effectively: what I like to call, “The Three Most Important Rule.”
Discuss and pick three things that you mutually deem most important – your “non-negotiables”- such as the food, the venue and the decor. Assign the majority of your budget to these things first, being willing to compromise in all the rest.
Select and book these three areas first, slotting them into your budget and then divvy the remaining allowance between your remaining areas. While it may require flexibility in some categories, you’ll have your dream ideal in others and avoid feelings of not getting anything ‘exactly’ as you wanted.”
“After you come up with a number you feel comfortable spending, spend some time (both!) writing a list of your wedding day priorities. If you are foodies and food and beverage are super important to you, then expect to spend a bit more on that aspect then the others. If you love art and photography then expect to spend a little bit more in that area and less in another. I also always suggest setting aside about 5% of the starting budget that isn’t to be touched until about 2 months before the wedding. If an unexpected cost hasn’t popped up, you can either save that money or spend it on a bonus element (entertainment or late night snack?!).”
“Be realistic. A beautiful wedding can happen on any budget at all if you consider how to best use your dollars, but that starts with understanding what things cost. If you don’t have a planner, invest some time on the phone talking to vendors – caterers, florists, photographers etc to get an idea of what things really cost before trying to put together a budget. I always suggest going for a smaller more intimate wedding and making it spectacular for fewer guests than trying to spread the budget thin to include a lot of people and ending up with something mediocre because of budget limits – guest numbers affect everything from invitations and favours to food, booze and decor costs, so fine-tuning that guest list really matters.”
“Be realistic. A lot of couples do not know how much things cost when planning a wedding. Obtain a few price comparisons and then list out which items are ‘must-have’ items versus ‘wish list’ items. These items include but are not limited to food options, fun and entertainment for your guests, flowers and decor, and wedding photography. The range in prices for these options can really make an impact on your budget so be prepared to find out what your quote includes, and know which area(s) you are willing to allocate more of your budget.”
“When I first sit down with a couple we set a realistic budget for their vision before looking at hiring any vendors. Ask yourself what number are you comfortable with spending? From there you want to select your three most important vendors and the ones you want to prioritize. Maybe that is your venue, photographer and the band? Hire those vendors first, review your budget again and then divide up what is left amongst the other categories while still keeping a realistic budget. Throughout the planning process, keep your budget updated and have that conversation about what is included and what isn’t in the very beginning. It will save many conversations later on.”
“Be realistic. Weddings are expensive no matter how you spin it and we think it’s better to overestimate rather than go over budget. If you have a $40,000 budget and your wedding must-haves include a band and an open bar then you need to have a realistic guest count.”