Wedding Budget 101: A Step-by-Step Guide to Wedding Budgets for the Financially Unprepared Bride-to-Be

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Shortly after the New Year, I found a sparkly piece of jewelry in the bottom of a box of Junior Mints, so I decided to ditch my boyfriend and have been chillin’ with my fiancé ever since. Now, if I were one of those girls that has been tossing coins into a savings fund for my dream wedding ever since the first time I watched a chick flick at a slumber party—well, quite frankly, this post wouldn’t even exist. Alas, I am not that girl, and on the day I put on my pretty ring, I had zero dollars and cents dedicated to the cause of everlasting love. So after about a week of staring at the ring and reminding myself it was mine, I had to come back to reality and make a plan.

Here is how a completely financially unprepared Bride-to-Be can create a personalized budget and payment plan suitable for a paid in full, aisle-walking day of I Do’s

Phase 1: Have some fun—with your eyes wide open

Our Venue is one of our top priorities, so when making our budget--it got first dibs

During Phase 1 we realized that an outdoor wedding was a huge part of our personal wedding style and that played a large role in the creation of our wedding budget.

  • Get a Sense of your own Personal Style – Without considering costs, I started looking at videos and pictures from weddings to get ideas of what I like and would actually go for in real life. I didn’t think about money in detail at this point but was getting an idea of wedding costs with a broad perspective. And most importantly, if I started to look at prices that stressed me out or overwhelmed me, I shut it down.
  • Talk to your Friends and Family – I would be LOST, without the help of my friends and family. A really great part of getting engaged is being able to experience the unending heaps of help from anyone who has previously gone through that experience. I have been welcoming the  unsolicited and requested help of friends and family for nearly two months now, and it is still one of the most helpful and my most favorite parts of planning—and it played a HUGE role in developing my wedding budget.
  • Research Budgets—After my time spent in newly engaged La-La land helped me figure out what I was looking for visually and experientially, I knew I needed to do some research about how to manage this feat financially.  Sample wedding budgets are EVERYWHERE and they come in all shapes in sizes—literally, Dr. Seuss could write a book about them. One of my main focuses when perusing wedding budgets (I collected them online and from super awesome friends) was to make sure I didn’t accidentally forget about anything or anyone :)

Below are 3 online Wedding Budgets that I found helpful enough to Pin and keep around:

http://www.hawaiiweddinglove.com/unexpected-wedding-costs/

http://theeverylastdetail.com/wedding-planning/resources/wedding-budget/

http://southernweddings.com/2013/06/25/southern-expert-budgeting-for-your-wedding/

Phase 2: Start Stacking Bills on Bills on Bills

  • Pick a Price you are Comfortable Paying—This is a very personal step, and it was a big decision for my fiancé and I because we want to make sure our wedding encompasses all that we want to share with our family and friends, but we would both probably get bald spots if we were spending more money than we felt was necessary.  Everyone is different, but having a specific target number is very important when planning a financially responsible wedding.
  • Find your Cash Flow—Traditions often play a role in who pays for what at weddings, so it is important that you have an honest conversation with your family members about your own family’s stance on wedding funding. And if you know you are personally paying for all or some of it, make sure you know how much money you will need. Your total need and timeline will dictate the rate at which you should save money so you are well-prepared for all wedding-related expenses.

Phase 3: Digging into Details

  • Prioritize—Determine the most crucial and (likely) expensive aspects your wedding day, and start your budget there. Once you have the big points—ceremony location, reception location, food, etc.—nailed down, then you can branch out to the aspects that might be lower on your wedding totem pole and start delegating your funds accordingly.
  • Finalize (with flexibility) the Remaining Details of your Wedding Budget—At this point, you have done the research. You know what you like, what you truly need to make a wedding happen, and how much money is going to be available for you do to it. This is the time to create your own personalized budget. I took all the information I learned/gathered from super-super detailed wedding budgets and lists I found online and combined it with the wedding budget info I got from AH-MAZING friends and put together a simple personalized 23 item wedding budget on Excel that includes what I know I will need, estimated costs, and actual costs. You can click on the picture below to download the simple spreadsheet for yourself :)
This is a screen shot of my  end product: A simplified budget that includes every piece I need and need to pay for. There is a link to get the Excel Spreadsheet below.

This is a screen shot of my end product: A simplified budget that includes every piece I need and need to pay for…and please look away from typo on “estimated”–I totally meant to save space by leaving that “a” out of the word.  Click on the picture to download the Excel Spreadsheet version for yourself.

Hopefully this post is helpful to any lucky ladies who have recently acquired fiances–Congratulations and Good Luck!! What are your wedding budget secrets?

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♥ Brittany

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