Planning your wedding can be the most exciting time of your life, even while there may be times you want to scream from the stress of making sure your special day is nothing short of perfect. From choosing your ceremony and reception location, right down to the exhilarating entertainment and finding the right shade for your flowers is supposed to be a fun journey you and fiancé go on together. It gives you an opportunity to bond, listen to each other’s opinions, and learn to make compromises, all of which you’ll be doing once the celebration ends. But before you are ready to tie the knot, be sure you learn how to manage your money on a budget!
Photo by McKay Imaging
Income vs. Expense
The key to starting your marriage off on the right financial foot relies on creating a budget and knowing your limits; not doing so is one of the most common mistakes made by couples. A budget is a tool with which you take control of your finances and build a foundation to stay in control of your overall spending by tracking all your expenses.
To create a budget, start by recording all sources of income from your regular paycheck. Do this by recording your net income or take home pay after taxes are deducted. Create a monthly expense list, and then break this list into two categories. Your fixed category should include expenses that do not change, such as a car payments, monthly utility bills, etc. Your variable expenses are those that change from month to month, like entertainment or eating out. It is in this category where you can make adjustments accordingly. Total your monthly income and monthly expenses. You are off to a good financial start if your income is more than your expenses.
Budget, Budget, Budget!
Now that you know your daily budget, you and your fiancé can sit down and discuss your wedding budget. One of the most important questions you might want to consider is Who is contributing to our wedding? Will it be both sets of parents who will add to the funds? Is it just the bride’s parent(s)? Or will you and your fiancé be paying for it on your own? (This is common for today’s couples.)
Once you know who will be funding this once-in-a-lifetime event, you will be able to have a better idea as to how much money you are expecting for your wedding budget. Set a budget and stick to it, unless you know you will be able to cut costs in another area. The last thing you want to do is to go over your budget and start your marriage in debt.
Prioritize by making a list or numbering vendor categories based on personal preferences. Is a large guest list important? Do you want extravagant or small centerpieces? Is a couture wedding gown a must? All of these questions are important in keeping you on track without spending too much in one or two areas.
Once you prioritize the major vendor categories, begin to consider the small details you would like to incorporate into your wedding day. Categorize these elements by using the following phrases: must have, optional, and nice to have. Mark the items that are necessary, don’t need or can purchase at a later date if you have any left over money.
Photo by McKay Imaging
How to cut costs
Cutting costs may not be easy; however, there are many ways to limit your spending, while making your wedding exactly what you want or as close as you want it. Each time you add to your guest list, you are not only increasing your catering bill, but you’re increasing the bill for centerpieces, rentals, invitations, postage, and more! Once you make your initial guest list, go back through it with your fiancé by deciding on whether these guests are absolute must haves. Don’t invite anyone you haven’t spoken to in five or more years, or maybe you can eliminate relatives that are more distant than first cousins.
If you haven’t chosen a wedding date yet or are flexible with choosing a date, you might want to consider booking on a Friday night or Sunday afternoon. Saturday night events will cost premium prices. Tying the knot in the winter, rather than the summer ─ when the rates are at their highest ─ will likely reduce the price-per-person. Some reception facilities offer great deals during the non-wedding season that can save you thousands in the end!
Limit your spending on leisurely activities. This goes back to your daily budget and variable expenses. While going to the movies and stopping for that delicious latte every morning before work is enjoyable, the dollars saved per activity per day will increase your budget and can allow you to have that extra photographer or a luscious candy and dessert bar the day of your wedding.
If you catch yourself about to get out of control with spending your money, take a deep breath, and ask yourself if this is a must have item. Remember the reason why you are planning this event in the first place ─ to marry the person you want to spend the rest of your life with. When all is said and done, you should be able to arrive home from your honeymoon stress and wedding-debt free ─ enjoying your new life together as Mr. and Mrs.