Planning a wedding budget can be tough, but hopefully this post will help you sort things out. Before we get started, I want to share with you what I think is the most important part of setting your budget: do it before you begin planning. It's so easy to get wrapped up in selecting venues, vendors, and even destinations that would be perfect for your wedding... only to do all that work getting inspired and hyping yourself up to be disappointed by a too-high price tag. This isn't to say you can't still have your perfect wedding, but there are some details you need to nail down.
To get started, find a relaxing spot with your partner and let these questions guide your discussion:
What size wedding do we want?
Do we want a fancy wedding? Or a more laid back one?
Are we going to hire a caterer to provide the guests with a buffet? Or do we just want a food truck?
Open bar or BYOB?
How long do we have to save enough money to spend on the wedding we want?
This final question is one that deserves a realistic and honest answer; how you answer this question can also help determine the length of your engagement. There's no appropriate or inappropriate amount of time to be engaged, so it's really up to you. And above all, it's far more important that your love is celebrated as opposed to how it's celebrated. Once you decide the size and style of your wedding, as well as how long it will take to save up for the big day, it's time to move on to the next part of the process that is way more fun than talking money: researching and communicating with vendors in your area.
The most surefire way to find out how much your wedding will cost, is simply to ask. Take the answers from the questions before and treat them like keywords, then plug them into a search engine and start a list of vendors you would like to work with. (If you don't know where to start, here is a list of helpful apps for finding your vendors). As a wedding vendor myself, I can tell you it is appreciated that you are clear with your vendors that you are currently just shopping around and looking for quotes; more importantly, you need to be honest about your expectations for your wedding day. A good wedding vendor will be able to let you know from the beginning if they're a proper fit for you (and might even point you in the direction of a vendor that's more your style!). Plenty of vendors have contact forms or helpful questionnaires they can send over that can help you properly express your expectations - so just ask!
Once you have a list of options and some quotes from various vendors in your area, it's important to determine the maximum amount of money you're willing to lay down. To do this, you can simply tally up all your top-tier favorite wedding vendors you've contacted and see how much the grand total could be. Now, you know how much to prepare to save if you decide to go all out. (Don't forget to budget for tips and gratuity so you don't overspend at the last moment on your wedding day!)
I know the last section was the fun one, but we can just call this a 'difficult-conversation sandwich' because here comes more money talk. Occasionally, couples will receive financial support from contributing parties like families, friends, or employers and so on. If this is the case, it is very important to understand the terms of such contributions. Find a time to get you and your significant other together with the parents or whoever is wanting to add their own money to the wedding fund and ask them a couple questions to help you better plan your budget and set a savings goal for paying out the remaining total.
You need to know how much they are willing to contribute.
You need to know when they intend to give the money to you.
Additionally, while receiving relief from the financial burden of paying for a wedding is wonderful, it is important to understand in certain instances you may be expected to give up some amount of creative control. Hopefully this isn't the case, but, keeping this in mind, it is important that you understand you can decline any monetary contributions that may limit your ability to feel as though your wedding is completely how you want it to be. Again, it is only important that your love is celebrated and not how it is celebrated, so you have permission to feel no shame saying a polite "thanks but no thanks".
Above all, focus on what really matters. Having a banquet and renting a vintage car for you grand exit can be awesome, but you do not need to spend a large amount of money to have a great wedding. Once you decide you have planned your budget, take some time away from all the critical thinking and decision making that goes into it and relax. Sit with your answers and the numbers for a few days or a week, then come back and review. You may find that certain aspects you thought were important simply aren't that necessary after all. Sometimes couples can feel pressure to have a grand wedding with all the bells and whistles, but all the stress isn't necessary.
The people who care most about you are just going to be happy they get to celebrate with you.