Understandably, one of the last things we tend to think about when contemplating marriage, popping the question or hopefully saying “yes” are finances.
Having overnight changed from “partners/boyfriend/girlfriend” to “fiancés”, thoughts quickly turn to the marriage ceremony, the wedding reception and the honeymoon.
Of course loves conquers all… until the bills come in!
Whether you want the simplest ceremony at a registry office or a huge wedding with hundreds of guests and a honeymoon at an overseas 5 star luxury resort, there is a fundamental need to set a budget to cover all your costs.
There is no doubt you want a truly memorable day to start your married life together. There is no one rule here on the amount to spend as every couple’s financial capacity and desires are different. Just be aware when setting your budget that the last thing you want to do when embarking on married life is to start off with a massive debt from your wedding that will act like a millstone around your necks for months or in some cases years to come. Remember it is an important day in your lives and you have every right to expect it to be special in every way; just don’t let financial largesse on a single day, as important as it is, to create a long term financial burden for you.
Be realistic as to what you can and can’t afford, what financial help might or might not be available from family and then having agreed between you what your budget will be, stick to it!
There are any number of free wedding budget planners available on line, or you can simply create a basic spread sheet that details all the key costs such as the venue, dress, rings, cake, entertainment, and food – the list can seem endless. Be sure your spread sheet has a box for the difference between your overall budget and the total of each of the individual costs. This excess or shortfall is one of the most important things that you need to know as early on in the planning process as possible, and certainly before you start booking and committing to service providers.
Do be realistic with your estimates and leave a buffer for those last minute unplanned expenses. Many a bride and groom have received a nasty shock when the final bill comes in only to find guests have consumed the very best French champagne at your expense! If you need to set limits, do so and be clear with the Venue organiser in this regard.
So are our detailed costs greater than the budget we have set (often the case!) or less than our budget (good news!)? If your costs are greater than your budget, it is time to get real and look to where you can reduce or eliminate your costs. Remember that you set an overall budget for a reason, and unless that reason has changed; perhaps a financial windfall from family, you should think long and hard before you agree to increase it.
As the big day gets closer and you need to start committing to service providers, do make sure that your detailed budget is as close as it can be to your final actual costs.
Estimates are fine at the start, but you really need some firm quotes to factor in to your budget for at least the major cost lines before you start spending serious dollars.
Wedding planners abound and they can be a very useful resource to help you with budgeting for the big day, negotiating the best rates with the many service providers and generally reducing the stress out of the whole experience. The basic budgeting principals remain whether you decide to use a wedding planner or do it yourself.
One of the things that is often overlooked when budgeting for a wedding is the need to pay deposits, sometimes well in advance of the wedding day. So having locked down your budget, you need to timetable when/if you are likely to need to have to part pay each supplier. There’s no point knowing that you can afford the wedding budget by the wedding day, but get caught short by not having enough cash to cover the many deposits along the way.
So having worked out that your budget is reasonable, how do you make sure you have enough saved to pay all the bills?
I’m a fan of a simple old fashion strategy. Set up a separate “wedding” bank account and have the amounts you need to set aside automatically credited into the account from your wages or whatever other sources of income you may have. For most people, the discipline of saving through your normal day to day account is just too big an ask, particularly if it is over a long period of time.
If you find yourselves saying we can’t afford to set a certain amount aside from each pay, you may need to reset your overall budget and of course then your expenses within it.
Finally there’s the question of who will sit where at the wedding reception; sometimes the biggest problem of all and one we’ll leave for another day!
Congratulations and good luck!
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