How to Budget for a Wedding (part 2)
Wedding budgeting tips from some of the best wedding planners in Toronto
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 Toronto for some tips on how to budget for a wedding. Here’s what they shared:
“Setting a budget is the first step to any big project really, whether that be a house, renovation or wedding. I would recommend working with your wedding planner to set a realistic budget for all the areas of the big day. Spend on what you really love and always build in a contingency for a wow factor element or for the unexpected.“
“Be realistic and do a little research as to the pricing of the things you are likely going to require before randomly assigning a dollar value to the entire event. When clients first contact me, they often have a specific sum of money that they want to spend and when I ask how they came up with that number, they say that is what they are comfortable spending. This is fine – if the amount is realistic for the style of wedding the couple wants.
Say you want a new car and planning to spend $30K… Well, you have lots of options – you can have a VW, or a Honda or quite a number of domestics – but if you probably can’t have a Mercedes, right? The same is true for a wedding. If you have $5K to spend, you can have a really pretty luncheon or dinner for an intimate group of family and friends (maybe 20 or so). You can bring in an officiant and have a beautiful bouquet and some lovely little details, but you can’t expect that your funds can cover 100 guests, open bar, dj and other traditional bells and whistles.
I recommend budgeting $100-150 per person for a banquet hall and $200-350 per person for luxury venues. Now, double that and you have a pretty decent budget. Less than that and you need to make compromises on either the extent of the vision or the size of the guest count.”
“Think back the most favourite weddings you’ve attended in the last few years. What made them so memorable to you? Was it the music that kept everyone dancing? Or maybe it was the gourmet feast that you still talk about? Was it the fun in the photo booth? Whatever you found most memorable is a clue to what’s important to you. It can seem overwhelming when you add up the costs of your perfect wedding if you don’t set your priorities first. Allow yourselves to splurge on the most important element and then it’s easier to cut back on the lesser important pieces.”
“This is always a tough conversation for most clients as they, more often than not, don’t have a magical number for their budget. My advice is just to be realistic in what you want and what things cost. This is usually the biggest shock to clients. Before you start choosing your flowers and chairs, you need to learn what things cost to put each element of the wedding in perspective. Managing a wedding budget is a matter of organization, along with a great tracking system. That being said, you also don’t need a million dollar budget to win over your guests. There are some elements that can really leave an impact on your guests that are in fact, free. For instance, playing soft dinner music so guests can have a conversation is something that seems obvious, but not always done…”
“When setting a wedding budget, I advise that couples create a budget within their means. Research your “dream” venues and start to think about how many guests you would like to have at your wedding. Call various locations and ask for a general idea of their cost per head. Once determined, couples can get a better sense of where their budget needs to be. Do not choose a venue (even though you may be stuck on it) if it is not financially reasonable. Keep in mind the budget is always readjusted throughout the planning process as needs and wants arise. As a wedding planner, a realistic budget is much more appreciated than one that is not. We can always work with what you have to make your dreams come true!”
“When it comes to setting a budget you not only need to be aware of your specific budget but regional averages for items (i.e. venues in major city centres tend to be more expensive than rural areas). You also should create a budget line for taxes (nobody seems to remember to calculate these) and gratuities (which in a service area should be distributed).”
“Be reasonable. If you are trying to keep to a low budget, the best thing that you can do is keep a low guest count. It’s just not possible to have a huge guest list and keep things under control. Also, start with your main (necessary) vendor bookings before adding on the ‘extras’ – it’s more important to have a good meal than a photo booth!”
“Financial planning is very important to couples, and a disciplined spending habit allows them to start their new life together with less financial burden. As weddings can be potentially costly and involve expenditures on multiple fronts, creating a solid wedding budget game plan may end up saving thousands of dollars in costs.
My suggestion is that when you are setting a wedding budget, rank your top 3 priorities in categories you feel are most important to you. This will determine where the majority of the money will be spent and help you stay focused. Allocate less money to things that are lower on the priority list and always ask yourself “is this item really necessary?” Also, set 10% or more of your wedding budget for contingency funds, as you will never know when additional spending may be needed.”
“Add an additional 10% (at least) to what you think you will spend. Remember that there are many miscellaneous items and services that will come along for which you might have not have budgeted for from the beginning. Set aside an additional small portion of your budget for those things you did not account for.”
“When it comes to setting a budget there are a few things to consider. It is always a good idea to consult with a wedding planner before setting your budget as there may be things you haven’t considered or items/services that you don’t know what they cost. Location can also play a major factor in your budget. Typically doing a wedding in the downtown core will cost you more as venues tend to be more expensive. Alternately if you are planning on doing a barn wedding in the country but want to work with vendors from the city you will have to take into account additional travel fess and possibly accommodations.
Another thing I often see overlooked or misunderstood is venue AV costs. Many venues now have exclusive suppliers for audio-visual services. Many of the venue contracts state that there is AV included (it usually a $500-600 base fee which includes a basic microphone and a plug-in for a DJ). However, if you are thinking of having a band, for example, this tie in will not be enough. Bands require microphones, monitors, mixing boards, and a dedicated engineer. I always advise people to ask a lot of questions regarding the AV that is being provided by the venue, especially if they are interested in uplighting, pin spots, or are wanting a band to perform. It could add another $2-3k to your bill if you aren’t careful.”
“Before setting a budget, we recommend doing a little bit of research. We find that many couples are surprised to learn the cost of wedding-related items, especially when it comes to decor. As well, make sure to leave yourself a little bit of wiggle room, as there are always some unexpected costs that come up!”
“When it comes to setting a budget it is important to set achievable, realistic goals. Brides and grooms should take a moment to prioritize the different vendors they will be hiring for their big day. For those that are the most important, be sure to set aside some additional funds. For example, a couple that is passionate about floral and decor and who are just purchasing a cake simply for the photo, will want to designate more towards the decor budget and try to find a cake at a discounted rate. Setting realistic financial goals and allowing for some wiggle room for areas of particular interest are great ways to allow for the “extras” that come up.”
“Before setting a wedding budget, it is always good to do thorough research in order to get an idea of the prices in your local market, especially if you are not planning on hiring a wedding planner. It is important to set your priorities and then split the budget accordingly, based on what is more important and less important to you. A professional wedding planner can easily help you with this somewhat daunting task – and even help get you insider pricing with many of her or his preferred vendors!”
“BE REAL. While you can most certainly set a budget and wish list, we find often brides are disappointed when the budget they have set out does not align with the real cost of what they have fallen in love with. I would recommend building a budget in two ways. FIRST, set your fixed wedding budget and plug in all the details (costs of venue, food, alcohol, transportation, wedding gowns ect.) The second step would be to create an ideal budget by pricing the dream dress, ideal centrepieces and that pair of Manolo’s you have been coveting. The final step would be to take those two budgets and blend them together, finding a happy balance between the two.”