Even before I got engaged, I, like many other women, was planning my hypothetical wedding. I would pin beautiful, dreamy photos all over my Pinterest boards and dream of my amazing and extravagant wedding. I’m still doing it, but now I’m thinking much more realistically. I’m focused. I’m only pinning things that I think have real potential for my wedding day.
As I started to get more serious with my Pins, I figured it would probably be a good idea to get a little more serious with the big details that really matter when you plan a wedding: Budget.
Some people can pretty easily determine their budget. They’ll do what all the blogs and wedding pros tell them to do: Take the average cost of a wedding in your area, split it up into the expected percentages and plan to spend about that much. Period.
While that might be nice I know that the average cost of a wedding in Utah is WAY more than I plan to spend on our wedding. Then I went to work looking for other ways to design a budget. I thought about giving myself a set limit of what I thought I could afford and running with that, but I didn’t even really know what that was going to be. So I started searching high and low for other great tools to help me set my budget.
When I realized they don’t exist, I decided to make my own. I designed this process and spreadsheet after endless research and a lot of listening to wedding pro podcasts.
1// Sit down and discuss what is most important to you and your Fiance
This is the most important step to determining your budget. This will help give you an idea where you’d like to spend a little more money, and where you’d be okay with trimming the fat. Check out my post about each wedding element and how they contribute to the big day.
2// Write your guest list
All the pros will tell you, guest list determines your budget. 3 big factors rely on guest list: Venue, catering, and stationary & postage.
I started with writing our “A-List”. The A-List consists of all of the people who absolutely must be invited to our wedding. It has the bridal party and their significant others, the bride and groom’s immediate family, closest friends, and others who we feel are “essential” guests at our wedding. We also have a “B-list” for “No” RSVPS, and if we have some wiggle room in our budget once everything is all priced out.
3// Find your top 4 or 5 favorite Venues and get an average cost
Personally, I reviewed their pricing before I added them to my list. If I felt like any part of their prices was outrageous, they didn’t make the list. I also tried to pay attention to the fact that some of the vendors are full service and have a lot more included for the price. This means a few of the more expensive venues made the list if they offered linens, set-up & tear-down, coordinators etc. Remember, you will need to make sure all of your venue options can hold the number of invitees!
4// Find your top 4 or 5 favorite caterers and get an average cost
In doing my research I have found that not all catering services are created equal. Some provide full service, others drop of trays with little to no set up or clean up. This made the pricing vary quite a bit. Remember to use that guest list number here when making your estimates and getting quotes.