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Tips on Building the Perfect Wedding Budget

Creating your wedding budget can be intimidating, especially when you don’t know where to start. Do you sign up for a free app that tells you what you should have at your wedding? Do you have a consultation with a wedding planner and let them assist? There are so many options, vendors, and rentals that can seem absolutely necessary, but are they necessary for you?

As a Certified Wedding Planner based in Wisconsin, I know the sticker shock that comes with creating a wedding budget can be intense. No one tells you how much any of this costs until you are in the midst of doing it yourself. I like to remind clients that their minimum wedding budget is based on the minimum amount of things they need to have their dream wedding. Everything after that is optional.

Here are the steps I work through with my clients to ensure we create a budget that they are comfortable with, as well as highlight their must haves, would be nice, and optional needs.

  1. Start with your wedding day priorities.

When you jump on an app that lists upwards of 25 vendors that you could hire, how do you weed out what is necessary for you and what you care about? I always ask couples to talk through what their priorities on that day are. Do they want to maximize the amount of time together? Do they want a large guest list to encompass everyone they dream of having at their wedding? Do they want something unique and special to the two of them, like traveling overseas? Maybe they really care about the decorations and flowers, or the food being exquisite. List 5 things you want to prioritize, and use those as your guidelines when planning the rest of the budget. 

  1. Do your research.

Most people don’t know the true cost of hosting a wedding or hiring professional vendors. The average cost of a wedding in Wisconsin is $20,000-$40,000. This can vary by location, vendor experience level, and the total number of guests you invite, so my suggestion is to do your research and inquire about pricing from certified and licensed professionals. 

  1. Don’t forget the small details.

Small details are the most commonly forgotten piece of wedding budgets. They are things like stamps for mailing out save the dates and invitations, alterations for your dress, and cost of your wedding license. If you are worried about forgetting something or would like a professional look over, many wedding planners offer consultations at an hourly rate to provide advice and help with some of these smaller tasks related to your wedding day.

  1. DIY or not to DIY

DIY has taken over the wedding industry allowing people to save money and prioritize hiring other wedding services. I personally DIYed a lot for my wedding because it saved me money and gave me something to do while my husband was at basic training. My biggest suggestion with this is to think about how much time you want to spend with DIY projects. Creating centerpieces can take upwards of 50+ hours depending on how intricate they are, and wedding stationery can take a similar amount of time. On top of a full time-job and wanting to enjoy time with your fiance, this can become a lot. If you decide to go the DIY route, ask for help and don’t forget to think about the storage space you will need to house your decorations before and after the wedding. 

  1. Have awkward conversations.

This is not for everyone, but if you have parents or grandparents offering to contribute to your wedding and you are willing to accept. Have the awkward conversation of how much or for what services. If other people are willing to contribute to your wedding day the amount you are budgeting can either be saved or added to a different budget line for services you want. Another reminder is to ask what expectations if any are tied to this contribution. Another source of stress during wedding planning can be managing other people’s desires for your wedding day. Make sure if people are offering to help financially that there aren’t any strings attached that you aren’t willing to accommodate. 

  1. Lastly, document, document, document.

Write down your budget so you can see it. Don’t forget to track your spending as you go, and move over leftover funds as they become available. Once you book with vendors, make calendar notifications that remind you about final payment due dates. 

Overall, creating your wedding budget should take some time and consideration. Make sure to focus on what you and your fiancé want your big day to look like. If that is a small backyard wedding or a luxury dreamscape, make sure to do your research and start saving. Lastly, enjoy your engagement because even though your wedding day might be 1-2 years away, that time can fly by.

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