Usually the editorial staff doesn’t let me near the blog (smart of them). But they knew that their boring CEO was actually a closet finance geek who loves nothing more than a cool rainy Seattle evening with a mug of mint tea, a fuzzy fleece blanket, and a spreadsheet.
Making budgets make sense to people who are terrified of stuff like this is something I love to do – and I have pioneered a unique way of conquering the wedding budget. In 2010, we polled brides-to-be and learned that wedding budgeting was the #1 point of stress in the wedding planning process. So I am delighted to make sure that isn’t the case for you!
Here is my official starter list for conquering your wedding budget:
1. Focus on the Marriage: Your wedding is about your marriage, not how much money you spend on your wedding. Take a deep breath and remember that you can plan a deeply meaningful wedding on your budget. I have yet to meet someone who has been married for 20 years say “I wished I had spent twice as much on my wedding!”
2. THE BIGGEST SECRET - PRIORITIZE: Make a list of the 3 most important [budget related] elements of your wedding, and have your fiancé do the same. Talk through each must-have element and come to a consensus on what's most important to both of you. Then allocate funds accordingly! If you are on a $20,000 wedding budget and an amazing wedding photographer is #1 on your priority list, then go for the gold and book that $6,000 wedding photographer! And since hiring a cheap photographer is one of the most common regrets expressed by newlyweds, take a cue and don't skimp on the photography. You'd be shocked at how much money is spent on things that don’t matter to the nearlyweds or their wedding guests. So just prioritize your must-haves to avoid falling into this trap.
3. Set a Maximum Spend, Then Take it Down a Notch: With your fiance, determine the maximum dollar amount you want to spend, then set your wedding budget 20% below that max. Be absolutely disciplined to sticking to that 20% lower number, since a few incidentals and surprises will make that 20% disappear in no time.
4. Use a Priority-Based Budget Planner Tool: Check out the priority-based budget planner spreadsheet I created just for you! It’s a fantastic tool you can access from any computer or smartphone, and it's totally customizable to fit your wedding needs and budget. Here is a link to the budget planner spreadsheet - use it, share it with your fiancé, parents, friends, whomever. Honeymoon and wedding jewelry expenses are typically left off budget lists, so don’t forget to add these items to your budget spreadsheet.
5. Once You've Prioritized, Allocate the Budget: AFTER prioritizing items and BEFORE shopping, allocate chunks of your total budget to individual items. By budgeting before shopping, you'll...
1) Set Your Expectations - you aren’t test driving a Lexus (and getting your heart set on it) when your budget allows for a used Honda.
2) Stick to Your Priorities - allocating your budget before shopping forces you to stick to your pre-determined top priorities.
Follow these five principles and budgeting won’t be your #1 wedding planning stressor!
John Scrofano (CEO of OneWed.com & Nearlyweds.com)