Getting married and planning a wedding can be and in many eyes should be, an enjoyable fun experience. On the flip side paying for a wedding is neither enjoyable or fun! Before we even think wedding budget, ask yourself one question: [It’s not a pleasant question, but an important one.]:

Can you afford to throw a wedding?

Getting married is one thing and one expense. This you can do by paying [in Ireland] the HSE €200, giving them 3 months notice [meeting all their requirements of course] and paying your celebrant & ceremony venue costs. These range from €200-€700 roughly so in truth you can do the basics and get married for about €400 – €900 [spending nothing else].

Throwing a wedding, well that’s a different kettle of fish altogether. That’s where a wedding budget comes in. 

So how do you decide on a wedding budget that doesn’t break the bank or you?

Start with a wish list.

Believe your budget is limitless, that your lotto numbers have just come in and that you can have whatever your heart’s desire. Write it down, in all its superfluous glory. 

Arrival by helicopter, walking down the aisle to the crooning of Michael Buble, the Pope conducting the ceremony, a hundred snowy white doves being set free into the sparkling sunlight to mark your love and commitment. 

You now have your starting point – well, you have to start somewhere. Look at it, discuss it together, put stars beside the things you really want and question marks beside the ones you could live without. From it, identify 3 priorities. These are the top three items/ spends for your wedding that are most important to you. The ones you’re not willing to negotiate on/ would be willing to spend a little extra for if it came down to it. Now take that list and put it to one side. 

Next, look at your financial state. 

Right now, you’ll most likely not have clue what wedding suppliers/ venues/ products/ services cost. That’s ok.  You’ll soon be on a steep learning curve. Ask yourselves: 

  • What do we want to spend on a wedding?
  • What can we afford to spend on a wedding?

If you’re already looking at a wedding budget, you’ll have most likely have set a wedding date, or at least narrowed down to set options. If not, you’ll need to do this soon. Knowing when your wedding will take place is very useful to determine your wedding budget. Having the date, allows you to calculate how much money you can save, borrow or accumulate between now and then. 

Other financial opportunities. 

Many couple’s wedding budgets are determined by the amount per month the can put aside/ save by the number of months until their wedding. Adding that to any savings either of you may have and you potentially have the total amount you have available to you to spend on a wedding. Or do you… 

There are of course other ways of making/ accumulating money for your wedding. 

  • Taking a second job
  • Selling items you no longer need/ use 
  • Buying/ selling shares
  • Receiving contributions from family or friends

Some of these might come with their own ‘costs’ so be sure to think on them wisely before perusing or agreeing to them. 

Setting the budget

You now know [or have a good idea] of what you want for your wedding, or at least you know your priorities. You know how long there is until the wedding. You have calculated the amount of money you can save/get/beg/borrow for the wedding. The final variable is to research actual costs of a wedding related products and service in the area you are getting married

From experience I know, the single largest spend for a couple is their wedding reception. This is the food and drink for your wedding guests. This will consume 35% – 50% of your wedding budget. Simply put the more people you invite to your wedding and the more you pay per head for food and drink the more your wedding will cost. So an instant way to reduce your wedding budget is to invite fewer people. This percentage will act as a good marker for you during your research. 

An example:

Before your research on wedding-related costs, you have calculated that you will have €30,000 to spend on your wedding. 

This means up to €15,000 will go towards your wedding reception. The rough guest list you’ve compiled puts your total invites at 210 guests. With an average decline rate of 15% of guests, you expect to have 180 guests attend your wedding. This means that you can spend up to €83.33 per head at your wedding venue to keep to this percentage. 

If a wedding venue/ food or drink is among one of your priorities you should first check if the venues you want to host your wedding at fit into this price category. If they come in higher than this you might have to adjust the budget amount upwards or lower your expectations. If they come in less than this you will have more to spend elsewhere. 

Following the research on your wedding venue[s] costs, it’s a good idea then to research the cost of your priorities. As you begin to build a picture of wedding-related costs, you will then be able to determine your wedding budget. 

Is it a fixed budget?

An important discussion to have about your wedding budget is, if its a fixed, this is it, budget. Or, is this the amount you’d ideally like to spend but it can be increased if required. 

Ideally, if you can your wedding budget should be a range. We hope to spend €30,000 – €35,000 on our wedding. 

Every budget should contain a contingency fund.. an amount of money, at least 10% that is not specifically allocated to something. This is for your ‘just in case’ and the multiple costs [hidden and unknown to you] that will arise. 

Always remember when researching wedding costs to compare the product and service, not just the price. Some offers might seem more expensive than others but actually, contain a great deal of wanted/ beneficial extras.

What is your biggest wedding budget question? Let me know if the comments below. 

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