Close up of bride and groom kissing by Lindsey Lissau Photography, featured on The Pink Bride www.thepinkbride.comFor many couples, settling the wedding budget is one of the first big conversations had about money. Before they absolve the single accounts and take the proverbial plunge into the world of joint checking, each person generally makes his or her own decisions about what to buy, when to spend, and exactly how much to spend. That’s just one of the reasons why approaching the wedding budget can seem a little daunting.

Never fear, though. I’ve listed five of the best steps I’ve found and learned myself regarding creating, divvying out and sticking to a wedding budget below. You’ll even find a few links to some rather snazzy resources and topics covered previously here on the blog. Read on to learn how to master your wedding budget!

 

 

1. Find out who would like to pitch in on wedding costs.

While tradition says that the bride’s family takes on the brunt of the bill and the groom’s family generally pays for the rehearsal dinner and alcohol at the reception (among a few other details), modern day weddings tend to blur the lines when it comes to who takes care of different expenses.

As the average age of marriage increases, many couples simply pay for the wedding themselves. If that’s not an option for you, and you anticipate that money is an issue for one or both sets of parents, sit down with the bride’s parents and groom’s parents separately and gently ask what they’d be comfortable contributing. Knowing what you and your future hubby have to work with along the lines of finances will most definitely help you in step two.

Sweet potato casserole in martini glass and tiered wedding cake image by Lindsey Lissau Photography, featured on The Pink Bride www.thepinkbride.com

2. Start deciding how much you can afford between now and two weeks before your wedding date.

I do not recommend going into debt for your wedding. After you know what kind of assistance you may or may not get from your parents (or another generous family member), start considering how much you can reasonably spend without getting in over your heads. Understand that needing a larger budget than you have funds for may require you to postpone the wedding to a later date in order to save up. Once you have a ballpark estimate, you can go from there to step three.

Are you a bride on a budget? Check out Pink Lady Ashlan’s series here on tips for saving money:

 

Bridal portrait with veil over face by Lindsey Lissau Photography, featured on The Pink Bride www.thepinkbride.com3. Be realistic about common wedding costs.

One of the biggest follies I see when couples are settling the wedding budget includes unrealistic estimations for costs associated with weddings.

Some brides may have $5,000 to spend on catering but want a sit-down dinner serving filet mignon to 200 guests in a ballroom. Others may expect to have out-of-season flowers cascading from every corner of their ceremony and reception site and across their tables on a $300 floral budget.

Do your homework before settling your wedding budget. Don’t rely solely on Pinterest to determine what you want at your wedding! Start clicking through websites of local bakers, reception venues, photographers, and other necessary wedding vendors to get average costs for your location. Note that you’ll almost always find a “high-end” vendor and a lower cost vendor in each market, so don’t get totally discouraged if something seems like way too much money. If you’ve never helped plan a wedding before, you simply won’t know what to expect. And that’s okay! But be realistic above all, and you’ll avoid (most) surprises and sticker shock. After you have realistic numbers, you may need to nix an option or go back to step 2 to adjust your estimated funds available or wedding date.

Keep these tips in mind!

Bride straightens groom's bow tie image by Lindsey Lissau Photography, featured on The Pink Bride www.thepinkbride.com

4. Always keep a buffer for unexpected costs.

You never know what may happen that you didn’t anticipate or weren’t aware you’d have to shell out cash for. Give yourself a bit of an emergency fund within your wedding budget for these OMG moments. The best part? If you don’t use it, you can spend it on your honeymoon!

 

5. Once you have a final number based on what you need and can afford, start divvying up your total into sections to complete your wedding budget.

Wedding Budget Calculator from Credit Card Insider

 

You can either base these numbers on the local research you did in step 3 or make the process even simpler by using a wedding budget calculator like linked to the left by Credit Card Insider to get rough estimates! From there, you can rank the items that are most important to you and your hubby-to-be first and adjust the numbers as needed. The point is that once you’ve completed this step, you’ll need to use it as a guideline throughout your wedding planning process to stay on track!

 

 

 

What other suggestions do you have about managing your wedding budget? Tell me in the comments below!

 

Images courtesy of premier Memphis wedding photographer Lindsey Lissau Photography.