Updated: Dec 8, 2020
Budget, what's that? Ladies, budgeting is tricky. Point blank. What makes it even harder is that you're budgeting for one of the most important milestones in your life. You’re probably wondering, how the heck am I not supposed to go crazy spending? It will all be OK. As I'm sure you know, your budget unfortunately impacts every decision you make throughout the wedding planning process (BOO!), so it's best to get it right at the start!
I see too many brides struggle today with wedding budget distress, but YOU don’t have to. I’m here to help! I’ve laid out the common mistakes brides make when dealing with their wedding budgets and how these mistakes can be avoided.
Flexibility Is Not An Option
I hate to be the bearing of bad news ladies, but you’ve got to be flexible! There’s nothing wrong with having a set wedding vision, but it’s important to note that things might not always go exactly how you planned it. Accept it.
So, what do you have in mind right now?
Is there a band that you MUST HAVE?
Is there one florist that you have your heart stuck on?
Is there a specific drink item you want imported from elsewhere, but it won’t come in time and the only way to get it here is to rush ship for a million dollars? Geez.
And, so on.
Ladies, it will be okay if you switch it up a little. What’s wrong with some unexpected spice? There are always alternatives in store. Yes, it’s your day and you want it to be perfect, but it will be regardless because it’s unique to you. And, how cool is that?
Anyways, the number one takeaway here is do not spend your time sweating the small stuff! Be flexible and have so much fun through and through!
I Need It All (AKA Impulse Buying)
Girl, I feel you. I WANT EVERYTHING too. You see something you cannot (or should I say think you cannot) live without, you buy it, you regret it. It’s a vigorous cycle. This happens naturally and isn’t easy to control, especially when it comes to all things wedding. It’s in the moments in which we’re about to hit the purchase button online or make a run to the store that we need to take out our pocket notebook or phone notepad and jot down some pros and cons. Trust me, I’ve seen this technique work for many. You’ll quickly connect to the WHY and realize that those extra 5 bouquets weren’t entirely necessary in the grand scheme of things. Or, if you have to think about the decision, revisit in a week or more. If it’s something you absolutely need, then you’ll have to cut back elsewhere (that is if you are pushing a tight budget).
All in all, you want to think smart. Get that wedding planning checklist out, that’s what you have it for! As a matter of fact, I’ve created wedding planning templates in which you can use as a kickstart. With these, you’ll be able to layout out your to-dos/priorities on a timeline separated out by months, weeks and days. There is also a high-level checklist included.
No Cap To The Guest List
Before even thinking about the WHO, you need to decide the count. Most make the mistake of not agreeing on a cap.
You want to ask yourself:
How many people total does the venue allow
How many do I feel comfortable with
What fits my budget? (the more people you have, the more you spend)
Once you’ve got those details squared away, you can start building out your guest list. I know, stressful. The biggest piece of advice I can give here is, don't feel bad. You have to lay out ground rules and stick to them. It isn't ideal nor fun, but it will all work itself out.
For those of you ladies who don’t know, your wedding budget depends on your guest list. A lot of brides don’t take into consideration (as it isn’t top of mind) that costs can go up when you add more guests to the mix. You need to monitor as you go and try to stick within the means of the initial plan. You not only have to stay strong in the initial planning phase when it comes to the guest list, but also as you see those responses rolling in. You can probably suspect what I’m about to say … yes, plus ones. There will be a chunk of responses that include plus ones and it’s up to you to respectively decline. I know you want to accommodate everyone, but it’s simply too much. Also, don’t forget those late responders. The last thing you need to do is feel overwhelmed, so get your guest list under control straight out the gate and you can avoid this mistake completely.
Guesstimating Without Researching
You need to ask yourself the hard money-based questions first. What’s the max amount I’m willing to spend? You cannot lay out a plan for what you need until you’re certain of what you are cool with spending. What are your priority elements? Jot em' down with a budget associated. From there, you can start adding other items and determine where you might be able to cut back/eliminate. The worst thing you can do is to not have estimates. From the cost of your dress to the cost of the venue, be sure to cover all grounds. You need to research average costs and get a feel for what you can expect to spend per vendor. The idea of estimates not only helps when it comes to budgeting on the backend, but in negotiating with vendors. It’ll be much better for your pockets and for your sanity to get moving with the research sooner than later. It can be frustrating and tedious, but it’s well worth it in the long run.
Not Expecting The Unexpected
As you know, miscellaneous charges are bound to slip through the cracks. From additional venue clean-up fees to last minute extension of DJ hours, you just never know what can come up. This is where a safety net comes into play. I always suggest keeping a little extra cash on the side in case you need it to tie up loose ends as it gets closer to the wedding date. Whether costs are $5 or $30, the charges add up. So, start that side fund by putting at least 5% of your wedding budget away for these miscellaneous items upfront. You want enough to cover all those smaller charges that seem to get lost over time.
Another great thing to do is to ask about additional charges in your vendor meetings. What additional fees are they going to be tacking on that you don’t know about yet? Are there damage fees, storage fees, etc? If you ask the questions, you’ll get the answers and be able to eliminate confusion on your end plus be in a better position budget wise.
Tracking Expenses? Whoops!
Ladies, setting the budget is one thing, but managing it a whole different beast! It can be very difficult to track item after item. We are only human right? You not only have to track the cost itself, but the time in which payments are due. Reminders are your new bestie (aside from me of course!). It’s easy to lose sight of what is due versus what you already paid. If you chose not to track your expenses, you’re only hurting yourself in the end. This will lead into overwhelm which is a very tough state to escape once apparent.
So, do you have any programs you like to use? Is a basic excel file your thing? Whatever it might be, you’ll want to keep it handy at all times. You can download the program app on your phone or a notebook. In this, you’ll keep document deposits, final payments, etc.
Here's a list of programs I suggest looking into when it comes to tracking your wedding planning budget.
Mint - free online budget tracker that helps you better understand and keep track of your personal finances
Google Sheet - the ol' school way of tackling expenses and creating financial forecasts
WeddingWire Free Wedding Planning Budget Tool - wedding spend tracker that makes it easy to create and manage your budget
The Knot Wedding Budget Calculator - budget calculator that creates a personalized spending plan based on your unique budget
If budget seems overwhelming entirely or you just have no interest in tracking it throughout the process, you can seek out a wedding planner. Your wedding planner can take this burden off your shoulders so you can focus on the enjoyment of it all. Even though a planner might be a significant part of your budget, a good planner can save you money in the long run. And, besides, YOU and your wedding are their main priority so they will do all the digging for you to make sure it all comes to life in the most magnificent way. If you know for certain that you want nothing to do with budget tracking, but are worried about the cost of a planner, hold it right there. You can find a wedding planner that works within your budget, so don't dismiss it as a luxury!
In fact, for those of you not knowing where to start, I'd love to chat! You can book your FREE wedding strategy call with me in which we'll talk through your wedding priorities, ideas and inspirations.
In closing, this is YOUR day. Wedding planning as a whole isn’t a stroll in the park. It takes time and dedication. There are a lot of brides nowadays in fast-forward mode, completely disregarding the brainstorming aspect in which sets them up for success. However, you have no need to worry about making mistakes as you now know to avoid them. Be sure to keep yourself organized, do your research and not sweat the small stuff! There's so much you can do to get creative with finances, so remember not to see them as a limitation. Your wedding is one of the biggest events of your life and you want to be able to enjoy it without wondering what you'll have to pay back after it ends. Now, go document these mistakes somewhere and resort back to them when you need that reminder.