He asked and you said “YES!” What next?!?

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Congratulations! He asked and you said “YES!” This is the start to a very amazing (and busy!) season in your life!

Now that you are engaged, everyone wants to know if you’ve set a date. Setting the date may seem like the first thing you should do, but maybe it’s not. The most sought after dates may cost more (peak rates). Speaking of cost-do you have your budget set?

I see how your eyes just went glossy. Stay with me, I know you have some questions:

  • BUDGET?!?
  • How do I set up an overall budget?
  • How do I decide how much to spend on each piece of the budget?

First, don’t get overwhelmed! Budgets don’t have to be complex and can save a lot of heartburn along the way!

Setting a general overall wedding budget consists of two parts:

  1. How much money there is to spend
  2. What to spend the money on

To figure out how much money there is to spend, look at your financial sources. You might have more sources than you think.

The couple: How much do you already have saved (if you knew this was coming)? How much does your fiancee have saved? How much can you set aside (from now until the wedding) per paycheck for wedding expenses? Are you willing to go in debt (please answer that no!)?
The parents: Are either of your parents taking care of a part of the event? Traditionally the groom’s parents cover the rehearsal dinner. More recently, groom’s parents are also taking care of the bar tab. Or maybe your parents have decided to contribute a certain amount?
Grandparents/others: Is there anyone else who is likely to want to help financially?

Tally that all up, and that’s your overall maximum budget. See, that wasn’t so hard!

The next part is to figure out how to spend your budget. Start by listing the vendors you would like to hire to help with your wedding. Vendors like a venue, caterer, photographer, DJ, videographer, florist, hair stylist, makeup artist, baker, bartender, and other necessities like a wedding dress and formal wear, honeymoon, and fun things like photo booths and favors.

Once you have your list, put them in order of your priority. Is the venue the most important thing to you with the photographer coming second? Or is food more important than pictures? Or does only the honeymoon matter? There is no wrong order, but make sure the two of you are on the same page!

A practical next step in your budget creation is to do some high level research and get price quotes for your top vendor choice in each category. Do your top choices fit into your overall budget? Do you need to re-prioritize based on the estimates? Maybe a different vendor is more in your budget for a particular area. Do a little research online and ask for recommendations on facebook local to your area. Tweak as necessary until your spending totals are less than your overall budget.

Given these rough figures, you now have a wedding budget! You can always move your budget around-like when you find an amazing dress on sale, it gives you more of a shoe budget! And unfortunately, there will be things you didn’t plan for, or even think of putting in the budget-especially if you aren’t utilizing a planner and have never planned a wedding before. It’s a good idea to put in a miscellaneous line for those items.

There are great budgeting tools out there, specifically for weddings, like at The Knot which has a whole section dedicated to planning and a specific budget area for easy tracking. But also, for life, there are great free tools like Mint that will help you track and budget and save your money. If you feel like as a couple you aren’t on the same page with money, Financial Peace University from Dave Ramsey is a class you can take as a couple and learn how make decisions on where to spend your money for current living and future plans.

Financial stress is one of the biggest stressors for a couple, start your marriage off on the same page-budget your wedding!

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