Setting a wedding budget isn’t as much about the total number, but about divvying up the funds you have. It is possible—especially if you avoid these common wedding planning pitfalls that almost every couple makes.
Not asking the hard questions
A solid wedding budget starts with a conversation between you and your fiancé. Discuss the total fund amount, how much you each have to contribute, and where the funds are going to come from (plus these other important wedding planning questions).
Skipping this question—or all of these questions—is a far too common occurrence among couples. The conversation may be awkward, however the discussion is an important first step in discussing finances—and avoiding later conversations about wedding day debts.
Being unclear with friends and family willing to chip in
There are two parts to this common wedding planning mistake: 1) assuming that people want to contribute to your big day, and 2) not confirming the amount of the gift. Couples can avoid any misconceptions (and drama) by asking if the relative or friend wants to contribute (even if they have previously expressed interest in helping you out). Never assume—not even about your parents!
If your friend or family still wants to contribute, make sure expectations are set about the amount they want to contribute. You don’t want to book your dream venue for $2,000, only to find out that your friend or family was expecting a bill for half the amount.
Not using a wedding budget spreadsheet
A wedding binder (either paper or digital) is more than just an awesome place for all your wedding day ideas. It’s also a central spot for all the documents that keep you organized, including the wedding budget spreadsheet.
Wedding budget spreadsheets are an excellent way to allocate funds to areas that make the most impact on guests: the venue, food, and entertainment. If you prefer digital tracking, there are several wedding budget apps that can do the same and track your expenses. The goal of both methods (paper and app) are the same: to keep your wedding costs within budget so you don’t have any post-wedding buyer’s remorse.
Throwing receipts away
Setting a wedding budget is the first step in the process; to many couples, that’s as far as wedding budgeting goes—and the chief reasons many couples go over budget. Don’t neglect the vital next step: tracking all the expenses and recording the expenses. It may seem like a lot of work, especially when all those wedding planning deadlines add up, but it’s well worth the effort when you have a healthy amount left over for the honeymoon.
Spending too much on the littlest details
Beautiful dresses and cute favors are an incredibly tempting splurge, but all those overages add up—often without impacting the overall experience. Instead, allocate the majority of funds for the “big ticket” items that guests love (and remember). At the top of that list is the wedding venue because it is a huge part of guests’ first impression and the stage for all those other details. (This wedding venue checklist helps narrow the options). After the venue, plan on investing the majority of your funds in items that play a big part in the overall experience, including the catering and entertainment. This budget checklist suggests that up to 50% of the overall budget go toward the reception.
Ignoring the fine print
“Who has time to read through all these contracts?” This mantra has been uttered by many couples, but it can also lead to hidden charges and additional fees. To avoid those unpleasant surprises, read through contracts from start to end. Avoid asking open-ended questions (“how much is the cost of your service?”) that don’t give you a full view of the cost. Instead, add questions like “how much time is included in the venue cost?” and “what other costs should we expect?” to your venue interview list (and vendor questions).
Another way to avoid unexpected charges is to book a venue that gives couples a full list of charges at the final planning meeting. This simple step allows couples to make adjustments to the final wedding reception plans that bring the overall cost into budget.