6 Tips on Creating a Wedding Budget You’ll Actually Stick To

6 min read

“I’m getting married, and I can’t wait to plan the wedding budget!” said no one, ever. It’s true, though: after getting engaged, our first instinct isn’t exactly to think of spreadsheets and wedding expenses; it’s to think of beautiful wedding outfits and exotic honeymoon destinations!

But unless you’re very wealthy, you will have to create a wedding budget for your wedding day - AND keep to it as best you can. Wedding planning costs are renowned for getting out of hand, but having a clear budget to keep it all in check will save you and your partner from going a bit crazy further down the track.

So, if you’re stressed at the thought of facing your wedding budget or don’t know where to begin, just know this: many have conquered it, and so will you! To get you started, we’ve broken the wedding budget planning process down into 6 handy tips to help you create and stick to your budget throughout your whole planning journey. Ready? Let’s go!

1. Don’t let the average wedding cost scare you into overspending

If you’ve looked up the average cost of a wedding and found yourself gasping from shock, remember that it’s still your day, and you call the shots when it comes to expenses. You can cut costs or splurge on what’s important to you as long as you plan for it.

One of the easiest ways to save money is to keep your guest count to a minimum. A smaller headcount means a smaller venue, fewer wedding guests to feed, and the list goes on. Regardless of your budget size, though, you must resist the temptation to start tacking on extra costs because of those ‘average’ numbers out there. Your priority is to make decisions you and your partner will be happy with later on, and paying attention to what others have spent is the last thing you need.

2. Make your wedding budget realistic and goal-based

Sit down with your partner and have an honest conversation about what you both want out of the wedding. Will your budget require you to sacrifice or delay other life goals? If so, would it be a realistic amount? By checking your current savings along with how much more you could save in the run-up to the big day, you can outline realistic estimated costs of your budget, ensuring you can still live your life and enjoy the journey.

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If you’re hoping for contributions from family members, don’t just expect that they’ll foot a huge chunk of the bill - sit down with them and work out what the best option is for everyone involved. It may be an awkward conversation to have, but it needs to happen (refer to our last point for more details on this).

Once you’ve figured out how much you’ll both need to save (and how regularly to do it), always keep that goal in mind. You could even set milestones, i.e. ‘Half our budget saved by summer,’ to make it just that extra bit thrilling when you hit those targets!

3. Establish your non-negotiables vs. nice-to-haves

In other words, prioritise! Think of all the potential costs for your wedding, including:

  • Wedding venues hire
  • Food and/or alcohol cost per head
  • Wedding dress, suits and accessories
  • Wedding invitations and stationery
  • Photography (and/or videography)
  • Entertainment
  • Flowers and decorations, including wedding favours
  • Wedding cake
  • Wedding ceremony fees
  • Wedding planner or event coordinator service fees

Group all of these expenses into must-haves and, well, everything else. For lots of us, things like venue hire, food, and photography are worthy of splurging a little on. But if you don’t want to fork out a tonne on flowers, invitations, or entertainment, for example, try to allocate some of those costs back to the things that really matter to you.

And remember, if you can’t decide whether something is a must-have or not, it most likely isn’t.

4. Watch out for hidden costs - and have a contingency plan

If you manage to stick exactly to all of your budgeted wedding costs, congratulations! But for the rest of us, weddings can be rife with hidden costs and not everything will go according to plan!

Look out for any extra fees that could sneak up on you, including:

  • Wedding dress alterations
  • Postage fees on invites (unless you’re doing digital invites)
  • Overtime fees for staff/entertainment
  • Corkage
  • Vendor trials (like makeup trials)
  • Backup venues for bad weather, umbrellas, etc.
  • Bachelor or hen night costs (if that’s a part of your wedding budget breakdown)

If you’d rather not stress out over surprise wedding costs, be sure to add a contingency to your budget. Even if it’s only 5% extra of your total budget, it’s a small price to pay for extra breathing room and peace of mind to keep stress levels to a minimum during the wedding planning process.

5. Have everything in a central place

Anytime you get a cost, quote, or other budget detail, make sure you’re storing it in a central location that you and your partner can access at any time and stay updated on any changes or confirmed payments. This includes creating or downloading a tracking spreadsheet where you can monitor everything from vendor quotes to contact details, special notes, and more. Setting up a joint wedding bank account or opening up a new personal account where you can add funds directly for your wedding is also a great idea. And don’t forget to utilise a wedding website platform such as Say I do to manage guest lists, RSVPs, digital invitations, and more in one place.

Thankfully, most of your administrative work can always be automated - and the more centralised, the better, so never go overboard on manual work if you don’t have to.

6. Get ready to be honest and also mildly uncomfortable (at times)

Even if you had every expense planned out, wedding budgets aren’t supposed to work out perfectly, so trying to stick to your budget won’t always be a pleasant experience.

You might find yourself butting heads with some vendors or having a tiff with an overly controlling family member who’s made a financial contribution. You and your partner may squabble over not having saved enough by the end of the year too, but you know what? That is all completely normal!

There are times when you’ll have to tap into your inner negotiator, mediator or even family counsellor to make the budget work. But as long as you stay honest and upfront about what it is that you value, you’ll be able to walk away from each conversation without regrets and look forward to your dream wedding.

Organise your wedding the smart way

With built in to-do list, guest list planner and online RSVP

Try Say I do for free