A beautiful wedding is possible no matter what your budget, but it’s important to have a spending strategy to suit your taste and wallet. Before you start planning, decide on how much you are prepared to spend on this event and find out who else might be contributing. Although it’s often difficult to discuss finances, your first consideration is that your parents may have no idea of wedding costs. Be open and honest and if they are going to be contributing, give them an idea of your anticipated budget.

Communicate your expectations with your fiancé and family members from the start and decide on what is most important to each of you. For example, if you are a foodie, you may want to ensure that your guests have a meal to remember, while your partner may want to put more emphasis on music and entertainment. You will both need to compromise on some things, as wedding costs tend to get out of hand quickly. Be aware that, on average, couples tend to spend 10-15% more than originally planned, so set your total below what you really can afford. Although tradition dictates that the bride’s parents pay for most of the wedding, this is not always possible. Today, many couples are footing the bill themselves and so it is a good idea to start saving on a regular basis as soon as you have said “yes”.

A good suggestion is to open a savings account for your wedding fund and deposit 10-20% of each salary into this account. Add any extra income you might receive, and you’ll get excited as you watch the balance grow and reach your goal together. This will also set you up with good habits for your marriage and you can keep this account going after your wedding to use as savings for future holidays and emergencies – you’ll never regret it.

How much should I spend on my wedding?

If you spend so much that you go into debt or are paying for your wedding long after the event, you have spent too much. It’s difficult to start planning until you know how much things are going to cost, and a lot will depend on your guest numbers and the type of wedding you want. The good news is that there are many ways to save and avoid spending too much.

How much should I allocate to each category?

Here is a very general guideline. You will need to decide what is more important to each of you and if you want to emphasize one aspect and spend more in one area, you will obviously need to reduce expenses elsewhere:

45-50 %  Venue and Catering (including cake)
10-12 %   Photo and Video
8-10 %    Wedding Planner and Miscellaneous.
8-10 %    Décor and Flowers
8-10 %    Bridal Wear and Suits
6-8 %      Music and Entertainment
4-6 %      Hair & Makeup
2-3 %      Stationery
2-3 %      Gifts and Favours

It’s also advisable to allocate 5-8% for other expenses such as special transport arrangements or surprise overheads – they are likely to happen and it’s better to be prepared. Remember your honeymoon expenses too, which are not included here.

How to keep to your budget:

Firstly, you need to have a system to track your spending. The Marriage Meander has created a useful tool for you to do this. Download the free WedPlan’ App on Apple or Android devices and start using the Budget Tool as soon as you start planning.

Go through your budget, or ‘spending plan’ together and keep talking about it as you book your venue and pay deposits for your service providers. Revisit it regularly and adjust as needed. Be realistic.

Make wise decisions. It is easy to get caught up in the excitement of your wedding which may lead to overspending. With each financial decision, ask yourself, “Is this the wise thing to do?” You won’t look back when you get to your wedding day with no debt.

Using the average cost for a wedding (ask any wedding planner), decide if you can spend more, the same or less than that. Once you have a total budget figure, then apply the suggested percentages to the guideline above to see how much you can spend in each category.

Now when you ‘shop’ for the various aspects of your wedding, you have an immediate idea if it will fit into your budget.

Most of the time it will not easily fit, so now you will need to creatively reduce or eliminate something else, or increase your budget. Remember that borrowing or debt should not be an option to consider.

Your budget limitations do not need to be negative if you find fun and creative ways around them. They can make your special day more memorable and the planning process much more enjoyable.