Engaged Over the Holidays? 4 Tips for Setting your Wedding Budget

First things first, congratulations!!! What a wonderful way to start the New Year. Getting engaged is a huge life milestone; you’re in love, you’re on cloud nine, and you’re feeling like the luckiest bride-to-be in the world. Now the really fun part starts - PLANNING! The dress, flowers, venue, setting the date, etc. You are now allowed to shamelessly plan the wedding of your Pinterest dreams (and let’s be honest, you know you already have…) But before all this begins, we must address one crucial step in the wedding planning process: The Budget. No, it may not be covered in glitter and smelling of gardenias, but it’s important nevertheless.

The average wedding in the United States costs (excluding the honeymoon) $31,213, according to the 2014 Real Weddings Study Statistics by the Knot. Before you start to panic, remember this is just the national average. You can have a killer wedding on a much smaller budget, but even $10,000 doesn’t just appear out of the blue. We’ve compiled some tips to keep you ahead of the wedding planning game before your planning shifts into full gear.


Tip One: “The Talk”

It’s time to start talking about your budget. We know this can be an uncomfortable conversation, but it’s important to get it out of the way early on in order to avoid any confusion or mismatched expectations later.  Set a time to sit down with your partner and parents, making sure each party knows exactly which conversation is about to take place. Put everything on the table (both literally and figuratively) to make sure everyone is on the same page. Again, it’s better to get all expectations clear before you start looking at décor and attire, so you can avoid getting your heart set on something that might not fit the budget.

Make sure you know how much (if any) your parents plan on contributing. You will feel much better knowing exactly what they have committed to, rather than having to awkwardly ask for help down the road.

Then you can privately discuss what your overall budget looks like with your partner.


Tip Two: Set the Overall Budget

Now it’s time to assess your own financial contribution. You know how much your parents can help with, so what can you and your partner manage? The first question should be “how much money can I realistically afford to put away each month?” Take a look into your monthly bills. Are there some expenses you can cut back on? Get to a number you feel comfortable with and can consistently stick to. Have your partner do the same. Then think about how much time you have to save. During this early planning your date doesn’t have to be set in stone, just ballpark it. Do you have eighteen months, a year, five months? This gives you everything you need to calculate how much you will be able to save by your approximate wedding date (Amount saved per month x Number of months until the wedding). Depending on how this calculation adds up, this will give you an idea whether you will need to extend your engagement and planning a bit. Are you willing to go into debt, or do you want to be able to pay the wedding outright? Again, coming to this number early on will reduce the stress of planning throughout your engagement and will help many other details fall into place.


Tip Three: Start Saving

You need to first setup an account that is separate from your primary checking account. This account should be dedicated to everything “wedding.” Money Clouds™ is a great way to keep your wedding money separate from your day-to-day spending, yet still readily available for wedding expenses. To start, create a Money Cloud for your overall budget. You and your fiancé can both contribute to this Cloud so you can keep all the expenses together and motivate each other to stay on track. Set up an automatic funding schedule, so you don’t even have to think about saving and you won’t be tempted to spend that wedding money elsewhere. Once your automatic funding schedule is set, you can now focus on all the other (more fun) wedding details instead.

Tip Four: Allocate Your Funds

Now that you are saving for your wedding without thinking about it, it’s time to dig into the details. Start by creating Clouds for each of your wedding’s various categories (flowers, venue, catering, dress, etc.). Then you can set a mini-budget for each category, setting the individual Cloud goal as whatever percentage of your overall budget you expect to pay.  The added benefit of using Money Clouds to help you save is the highly personalized interface, so you can use photos of your actual dress, venue, and use your wedding colors to help keep you motivated and on track.

Here is an outline of suggested allocations and percentages of your budget from www.theknot.com:

Here is a basic breakdown of what you can expect to pay:

o    Reception: 48%-50%

o    Ceremony: 2%-3%

o    Attire: 8%-10%

o    Flowers: 8%-10%

o    Entertainment/Music: 8%-10%

o    Photography/Videography: 10%-12%

o    Stationery: 2%-3%

o    Wedding Rings: 2%-3%

o    Parking/Transportation: 2%-3%

o    Gifts: 2%-3%

o    Miscellaneous: 8%

o    To avoid stress, allot about 5% of your budget for a "just-in-case" fund

By creating a Cloud for each category of your wedding, you will be able to clearly see exactly how much you have saved (and what that money is going towards), where you are sticking to your budget, or perhaps help you reassess some areas. This will also help with ease of mind that you have everything covered with little to no surprises.

If you can get your finances and saving in order first, you will be lightyears ahead of the wedding planning game. No one wants to start a marriage in debt and in financial turmoil, so by doing a little pre-wedding planning you can make this experience magical and financially stress free.

Happy Planning!

Charlee Van Wagenen