Setting a budget

I find that budgeting is one part of wedding planning that isn’t talked about enough (some people don’t like shouting about how much they spent which is fair enough) and I found it very hard to find any solid advice on wedding budgets online. Of course this is because prices vary widely depending on your area and also exactly just how much you are willing to spend.

We had 18 months to plan our wedding and it was due to this length of time that we were able to budget for the wedding we wanted. We were also already saving for our first house deposit when we got engaged so not all of our disposable income could be put into the wedding pot. However we were both living with parents at the time of our engagement so found it easy to put aside almost all of our wages and just have money for basic spending such as petrol, food, lodging and phone bills. I am an accountant by day so find it very easy to budget and manage my money, so the first thing I did was create a plethora of spread sheets detailing monthly incomings and outgoings to decide exactly how much we could put away for the wedding. My first rough budget was £16,000.

It was exactly that, rough. As you get further into your planning you almost always discover that things are more expensive than you expected. Anything with “wedding” in the title is usually ridiculously priced, however (most of the time) you are paying for the effort that the supplier is willing to go to make your day perfect.

This was my initial budget:

  • Venue and catering: £6000
  • Photographer: £1000
  • Dress and accessories: £1000
  • Bridesmaid dresses: £100 x 4
  • Transport: £300
  • Flowers: £350
  • Registrar: £500
  • Wedding rings: £500
  • Hair & make up: £150
  • Groom’s suit: £300
  • Accommodation: £200
  • Cake: £150
  • Guestbook/decorations: £100
  • Band: £750
  • Favours: £100
  • Stationery: £200
  • Honeymoon: £4000

Total = £16,000

I suppose I should say that at this point, we had already decided to keep our guestlist to close family and friends, so including ourselves the numbers came to 48 people.

We are also very lucky to have had help from both sets of parents, we are so grateful and overwhelmed by their generosity. As we sat down with and spoke to them about anything they may wish to help us out with, it was decided that my parents would pay for my sister’s bridesmaid dress, my dad’s suit (which we had not budgeted for!), the flowers and stationery. They also contributed a lot towards the payment of other things. Matt’s parents agreed to pay for both Matt and his dad’s suit, plus a further contribution closer to the day to help pay for whatever was needed. Matt’s sister offered to pay for her own bridesmaid dress so I actually only needed to buy dresses for my friends. I wouldn’t personally dream of asking my friends to pay for their own dresses that will probably never get worn again, especially when the ones I ended up picking out were £180 each!

As I mentioned previously, my first budget was a very rough guide. We ended up spending a lot more on the honeymoon (more about that later) and on things such as gifts, hen/stag parties and other things we had not originally planned for. We did not consider a wedding stylist at first until we were introduced to one at our venue’s wedding fair. We then became quite sure of the fact we would need to hire a stylist to set everything up for us on the day, which also included the floral decorations for the venue. Again, we did not originally plan on hiring a videographer, but after seeing so many lovely wedding videos on blogs such as Rock My Wedding I was convinced we should have one… So those two things alone added a further £1400 to the budget. We also spent more on wedding rings as we decided that as we would be wearing them for the rest of our lives we wanted to have ones that we loved.

On the other hand, there were some things that we did save money on. By buying a dress from Preloved I managed to get my dream dress for half the price, managing to stay well within budget including all accessories. We also found a band that offered the option of hiring a “trio” that was perfect for our more intimate wedding, so instead of paying up to £1000 for a “wedding band” we managed to book ours for £595. With our cake, we are using a supplier who is local to the venue and does not charge any delivery, as well as charging only a tiny amount above cost price. Our three tiered 6″, 8″ and 10″ cake is costing us £140 in total.

It is worth saying at this point that you can get married on any budget. From £500 to £50,000+, if it is what you want then it really does not matter. However I would advise that if you want something that you simply don’t think you can afford, plan the wedding for 18 months or 2 years down the line, or even more. Then you can have the wedding of your dreams by giving yourself time to save for it. Our current budget has now gone past the £20k mark but I have no doubt that the day will be 100% worth it for us both!


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