By Virginia F. Swope. Warrenton, VA
Setting the wedding budget is one of the five first steps to get started with your wedding planning. Creating a wedding budget is not an easy task, but it’s important that you keep your finances on track. A wedding can cost the same as a car or a down payment for a house; if you don’t plan in advance things can go out of hand.
These tips apply from the smallest backyard party to the most lavish ballroom; you will use the same approach. Remember, once the budget is set, you must keep track of where the money is coming from and where it’s going. Here some tips that I hope help you:
1. Sorting the finances: before you decide how much money you can spend you will have to decide where the money is coming from. Traditions used to dictate that the bride’s parents paid for most of the wedding expenses but nowadays we know that things can be different. Your possible sources include: savings accounts, bride’s family, groom’s family, friends or closes relatives contributing wedding services in lieu of gifts, credit cards or bank loans. This can give you an initial budget amount.
2. Budget vs. Wedding style: Compare the desired wedding style to your expected budget. For example a ballroom wedding with 400 guests calls for a very different budget that an afternoon gathering with fifty guest. Make sure your expectations are realistic and align with your budget.
3. Setting priorities: Once you know how much money you can spend on your wedding, the next step is to set priorities. To develop a budget that reflects your personal tastes, you need to know which aspects of the wedding are most important for you. If the ceremony venue is most important, then money should be set aside to pay for your dream location.
4. Starting the budget: Once you know what your top priorities are, you can start developing a detailed budget. The most effective way to build a budget is to work with a spreadsheet program on your computer. Because I care about you, I have provided a FREE Wedding Budget Excel spreadsheet template for you. You can use it as a general guide and personalize according to your needs.
5. Keep expenses on track: Once the budget is set, you need to stick to it. Every time a purchase is made, a deposit is paid, a charge is made to a credit card, or a check is written, you should track it on your budget spreadsheet immediately. Setting up a “wedding only” savings account can really help.