The dreaded Wedding planning conversation, but the catalyst for all elements of the planning process, it is time we talk WEDDING BUDGET. I promise it can be fun, and it will bring you that much closer to the night of your dreams.
It may work against everything you’ve learnt about budgeting to date, but Wedding Budgets work backwards. You must determine your final total cost and break it down from there. Weddings can come in all shapes and sizes, decor budgets will never end, there can be and will always be more you can add. The trick is to establish from the get-go the maximum you and your fiancé are willing to spend. Although daunting, it will ensure you are not disappointed, not in for a surprise you weren’t expecting, and that you don’t get too carried away while planning.
STEP 1: Total Budget
Think about the maximum amount you are willing to spend. This should include all elements of your Wedding day. From the morning of getting ready, to the end of the night, until you get to bed. Wedding budgets are not only the party part. You should (must) include a contingency amount in this, not in addition to, in order to cover any hidden expenses that you may have forgotten. This safety net is key. There is no rule of thumb for the total budget, it’s whatever works for you.
There is a beautiful wedding that can be planned for every type of budget. At the end of the day, it’s about being honest and setting realistic expectations. Remember, behind the smoke and curtains, everyone is there to celebrate your love, you’re there to commit to the love of your life and to make it official. That’s what marriage is after all, the party is simply a bonus!
A few questions to ask yourself when coming up with this number:
**All numbers can vary based on location, type of F&B experience, day of the week, etc.
How many guests are you inviting?
Dinner (3+ courses seated) & Drinks (open bar) are typically $150-$200 per person, that’s before rental of a venue or any decor.
Are you flexible on the day of the week?
Venues on Fridays & Sundays are cheaper for both the rental and F&B minimums vs. a Saturday.
What’s a number that you can “live with”, remembering that your Wedding is one night only.
How many months/years will it take for you to save up this money, or pay off? Are you willing to take that on, and possibly wait longer?
STEP 2: Breakdown of the Budget
Once you have that total budget number, it’s best to breakdown by section how the money should be allocated. This will vary based on what is most important to you. We highly recommend you determine your TOP 3 NON-NEGOTIABLE ELEMENTS for your big day and allocate the most money from your budget there. You can happily scale back on the other “less important” sections if need be. It’s good to be on the same page as a couple, and to remind yourself during spending what the priorities and monetary goals are. Budgets keep you accountable, ensure you are constantly updating and shifting it as needed throughout the planning process.
Most Popular Top 3 Non-Negotiables:
Photographer - remember these photos last past the big day and we highly recommend you spend here!
Venue (if including Food & Beverage) - 40-50%
Consider what in-house elements you receive and what you may need to spend additional on: Chairs, Tables, Linens, China, Glassware, etc
Cake Cutting Fees (when serving cake to the guest tables)
Ceremony fees (if using the same space for the Reception)
Vendor Meals (anyone who is staying throughout the entire evening require dinner ie. Photographer, Videographer, DJ, Planner)
Hotel drop fees to guest rooms (if your venue is a hotel and you’re leaving room gifts/baskets)
Ceremony - 2%
Rental Fee (if using a different space than the Reception)
Marriage License (look up your province rules and regulations in advance)
Photographer/Videographer - 20%
Decor - 10-20%
Depends on importance of these elements
Flowers (bridal party only vs. decor & centrepieces)
Additional Rentals (tables, chairs, linens, dance floor sticker)
Stationary/Paper Goods - 3-5%
Invitations (including RSVP cards)
Menu, Program, Escort Cards
Attire for Bride and Groom - 8%
Look out for trunk sales on Bridal gowns & tuxes/suits
Accessories should be included (jewelry, cuff links, shoes, undergarments)
If you choose to pay for your Bridal Party this is an added cost or you should reduce the Bride & Groom spending
Hair & Make-up - 2%
If you choose to page for your Bridesmaid this is an added cost or you should reduce the Bride cost
Entertainment - 6-10%
Depending on what resonates with you, live music, DJ, strings can vary in costs
Miscellaneous - 2-8%
Bridal Party Gifts/ Parent's Gifts/ Bride & Groom Gifts
Engagement Party, Rehearsal, Honeymoon and Bachelor/Bachelorette Parties - these do not have to be included in this total but have you considered them? Who’s covering these costs?
Planner - 10-20%
Depending on the level of service (Full Service vs. Day of Coordinator)
Contingency Fund - 3-5%
Just in case, we all forget something
Tax & Gratuity - 18-22%
Don’t forget to include these in your total and that you're on the same page talking pre or post tax with your goals
Venue’s have a non-negotiable gratuity fee as do some other vendors (i.e. Transportation Limos)
STEP 4: Ways to Save
There are always ways to get “creative” and to save. Don’t be discouraged! Make it a fun challenge, do some DIY. The end result will be one you are proud of and the savings will help!
Here are a few of our favourites:
Alcohol Service: Depending on the venue, you can opt to serve only Beer & Wine. If you want an open bar, maybe control consumption by only serving wine to tables and closing the bar during the dinner portion. Opt not to do shots, or limit the options of your bar rail. Make the welcome Signature drink a mocktail instead of a cocktail, or eliminate all together.
Day of the Wedding: Choose a Friday or Sunday over a Saturday, they’re just as fun and can save you $5k off a venue rental! Consider an “off Season”, some venues offer discounts in the Winter and there’s so much potential for beauty from December-March or a Friday the 13th.
Bridal Party Attire: Let your Bridal Party select their own dresses, maybe even suits. This way they can spend as much or as little as they want and you are not responsible for supporting on this cost. Your flexibility and understanding is the gift, and believe us they will appreciate it. You can still control the colours, fabrics etc, but be open to flexing. With Hair & Make-up, you are not obliged as the Bride to pay for your Bridal Party so long as they are not forced to use the service, if it’s their choice they will be happy to pay.
Guest Favours: Although traditional, this is not needed. Feel free to make a donation, or do a fun interactive station that is part of the experience (i.e. candy station with take-home bags as part of dessert, hot chocolate station with take-home mugs), but you don’t have to get an item per guest to leave at their table setting. We promise, many will be left behind and forgotten. The trick is incorporate it in a pre-existing element rather than introducing another layer.
Menu Selection: If you select a venue where you are paying by the course, opt not to do Dessert at the table. Instead, do Dessert as a passed service or Food Station, limiting the cost per person and number of served courses.
Cake: Especially if this is not your favourite dessert, opt not to do a slice per person and purchase a smaller one. Don’t serve it to the guests at their table, rather have it cut and served at a food station. You will avoid unnecessary cake cutting fees and many guests won’t eat the cake anyways, why waste it?
Ceremony Location: Consider hosting both your Ceremony and Reception at the same venue - saving costs on Transportation, and also logistical headaches for yourself and your guests. The cost to rent two separate spaces will also incur additional budget.
Engagement Photos: Opt to use your selected Wedding Photographer for this. They typically will have a discounted package price and it’s highly recommended to do a photoshoot in advance with your photographer for comfort and expectations of the final product.
Go Paperless: Opt to not include printed assets at the wedding (program, menu, escort cards) and use an online invitation software (Greenvelope, The Knot) to send digital Invitations and avoid those postage fees! Reminder if you send printed Invitations you have to include a stamp for both the mailing and the return RSVP card, it adds up!
Hair & Makeup: Use your trials strategically, for the Bridal Shower for example. It’s highly recommended that you try your styles in advance. Early enough to make changes, but not too early that your vision changes. Lastly, some companies offer both services, and get a better bundle rate.
Venue: Love the venue as it is “bare” without the glitz and glam. Check out what’s offered in-house in terms of rentals. The more you love the space as it is, the less you have to spend dressing it up with decor. Also, you won’t be discouraged the day of your Wedding when your vision doesn’t come to life exactly as you had dreamed, because you couldn’t support the price tag.
There is no right or wrong answers when planning YOUR Wedding. Remember at the end of the day you wan’t it to feel true to your relationship and your wallet, that’s how you will look back with the fondest of memories.
Questions? Need help managing a Budget? Need a template? That’s where we come in, never hesitate to ask!
xx Kalla’s Galas