So I’ve talked about creating a wedding budget, keeping your sanity while planning, and making sure you’re infusing your own values into the process. But even if you do all of those things, spending can still get out of control when you’re planning a wedding. And it’s so normal! Modern weddings are designed to be expensive, and there’s a lot of pressure to make it look and feel perfect. But there are still things you can do to prevent yourself from going over budget. Here’s how to can maintain control over your wedding spending.
Modern weddings are designed to be expensive, and there’s a lot of pressure to make it look and feel perfect.
Don’t Buy Decorations Early
I have heard this on the Bridechilla podcast a few times. People get engaged and go hog wild buying decorations and other items for their wedding. And then when they get closer to their wedding, they realize they don’t even want or need most of the stuff they bought! So not only did they spend money they didn’t need to spend, but now they have a bunch of stuff they don’t know what to do with, and maybe even have to buy new things that they do actually want.
Getting engaged is exciting and it can be super tempting to get a head start on the fun parts of wedding planning. But it might be more prudent to wait and get a good idea of your wedding day vision first. You’ll get a clearer understanding over time of how you want your day to look and feel. Once you have a good understanding (together with your partner), figure out what kinds of decorations you need and want.
Stay Away From Pinterest and Instagram
Pinterest and Instagram can be really fun when it comes to wedding planning. You can find ideas that you wouldn’t have thought up on your own. However, FOMO is real. And social media makes it so easy to compare ourselves to others and feel less-than. This is especially true with the wedding industrial complex. You see all the amazing flowers, dresses, venues, etc. It can make you feel like you have to keep up with everyone else. But that’s an easy way to let your spending get out of hand and also lose sight of your own wedding vision.
If you find yourself susceptible to comparison and worry that you’ll overspend because of it, it’s probably a good idea to limit your time browsing wedding profiles online.
Be Careful of How Much You DIY
It can seem more affordable to do things yourself for your wedding. Flowers, decorations, food, etc. But sometimes the further you go with DIY, the more expensive it can get. Craft materials can really add up, especially if you have to start over after messing up a few times. Do a cost comparison of how much it would cost to do things yourself vs. hiring someone to do it for you. And don’t forget the value of time and energy saved!
Pay for the Important Stuff First
How terrible would it be if you spent a ton of money on random wedding stuff and then didn’t have enough left in your budget to pay for booze? Or the photographer? Or any other vendor that is essential? Pretty terrible! So it’s important to start your budget and spending with the big ticket (and essential) items like: catering, photography, venue, DJ, alcohol, clothing, etc. Once you have all of those items priced out and checked off, you can start adding in other things.
Tracking spending is always important, but that’s especially true when you’re spending large amounts of money. If you’re not seeing the numbers add up, it can be easy to assume you’re spending less than you are. So make a budget tracker based on your budget spreadsheet and update it every time you buy something or book a new vendor. Here’s a great budget framework from A Practical Wedding. You should know that your estimated budget for certain items will likely not end up being the final price.
For the record, I’ve been religiously tracking our wedding spending and we’re still going to go over budget. I’m not happy about it, but I’m also fully aware that it’s going to happen. It being less of a surprise makes it easier to deal with and plan for.
Which leads me to my next piece of advice…
Add a 10% Buffer
I actually didn’t consider this until I applied A Practical Wedding’s budget guidance to my own wedding budget. Weddings are big events. Things will most likely come up. Your guest list might be higher than originally estimated, or maybe you forgot you have to tip some of your vendors (in case you didn’t know, you should tip some of your vendors). Regardless, you should build in a spending buffer of at least 10%. This will protect you in the case of emergencies or unexpected costs.
I’d love to not have to use this 10% buffer, but I already know we’re going to dip into it. On principle, it annoys me that we’re going over budget, but financially, I know we’re safe.
Did you go over budget for your wedding spending? How did you manage it? Share in the comments!
Certified Financial Education Instructor. Feminist and financial coach for women. Founder of Money Circle.