You’ve had your moment on bended knee and (not at all smugly) basked in the glory of picking an absolute blinder of a ring, but once the dust has settled and the reality of wedding planning looms into view it’s time to leap into the daunting world of wedding finance. No doubt about it, money and pre-nuptial planning go firmly hand in hand. But with a little preparation and forethought, splashing out on the main event doesn’t have to mean a fast-track into the red. Getting clued-up on how to budget early on means getting the wedding you want, and crucially, getting it at the right price for you.
With the average UK wedding coming in at around £18,000 (give or take a buttonhole or two), it pays to be well and truly clued-up on the financial side of things from the off. And unless you’re the lucky sod with access to unlimited funds and the obligatory boat/plane/Bugatti back-up deal, it’s crucial to get cracking on the wedding budget as early in proceedings as possible.
Wedding Budget Planning – Where to begin?
Well…… on a balmy Wednesday evening (we imagine) back in ancient Egypt, or Greece, or… er… Rome(?) the most romantically minded of a questionable bunch decided metal + finger + a vein that may or may not lead to the heart = ultimate declaration of undying love. Granted our maths has always been on the sketchy side, but as far as we figure, the innovative beggars unwittingly hit on the gold standard move (proposal) responsible for finding you smack bang in front of an Excel spreadsheet today (and a mighty congratulations to you sir!).
But before you let loose with those all-important formats and formulas, you need to have the main bulk of your wedding plans already in place. Having a firm handle on style, theme, venue, catering, bands, booze and the all-important headcount before you begin trying to organise cash-flow puts you in a solid position to realistically allocate and prioritise each and every penny of the marital money pot.
Vital points to consider:
- Type of wedding
Modern or traditional? Church ceremony or crazy cliff-side action? Castle or cave? Suited and booted, or rocking the aisle in a onesie? (man cards well and truly revoked if you considered that for even a second…. and that’s before your usually calm fiancée finds out).
Be aware that high seasonal demand can push prices up across the board, with pre-nuptial fisticuffs over allocation on everything from caterers to car hire to venues.
Aside from venue and reception, the number of expected guests makes for the single most important factor in planning a wedding budget. Crowd size will ultimately affect almost every decision you have to make from here-on in.
Wedding Budget – Resources and funding
With a complete wedding plan in place, it’s time to work out exactly what resources you’ll have available to fund the occasion. Dedicated wedding accounts, current savings, family contributions and the potential to boost the pot before the big day all need to be taken into consideration. Then it’s firmly up to you as a couple to decide how much you’re willing and able to splash out overall.
If families offer to make a financial contribution to the wedding you’ll need an early heads-up on how they plan to pitch in. As a general rule parties tend to offer to pay for one key aspect of the event (eg. catering), which works extremely well for keeping your Excel masterpiece neatly under control, or they’ll often suggest a more personal approach, offering to make the cake, dress, or even the 207 (mauve, not purple) decorative bouquets, which makes for an equally superb alternative to help cut costs (and a mightily fine excuse to not look at any more floral displays, purple, mauve or otherwise).
With a realistic budget firmly in place, it’s time to get cracking on the details.
Wedding Planning – Expenditure
Yes we keep banging on about it, but as with any aspect of the pre-nuptial planning, preparation is key here, gents. Every penny of your hard-earned cash needs to be accounted for, so time to get cracking on the nuts and bolts of your budget spreadsheet with a complete run-down of exactly where your hard-earned cash will be going.
Big ticket items include:
- Venue hire
- Reception; catering and alcohol, entertainment
- The dress
Smaller items to consider:
- Stag weekends
- Attire (groom and attendants) and accessories (shoes, hair and make-up)
- Legalities (registrar fees, certificate etc)
- Flowers and decoration
- Gifts for attendants
However impressive your mad spreadsheet skills might be, there’s no avoiding the fact that sooner or later you’re going to need to talk facts and figures, and start factoring in your cash.
So with nuts, bolts and Batmobile extras firmly incorporated into the budget, it’s time to talk numbers. More specifically, it’s time for you and your bride-to-be to discuss exactly where you want to splash out the big bucks and where you’d both be willing to compromise if necessary. Key players including the venue, reception, rings and dress account for the biggest dents in the wedding wallet, but it’s entirely down to personal preference on how you choose to allocate your cash.
Top 10 Average Wedding Costs
- Honeymoon – £3582
- Catering – £2770
- Venue – £2164
- Rings – £1856
- Wedding dress – £1098
- Photographer – £876
- Flowers, decoration and cake – £728
- Entertainment – £682
- Team groom outfits – £674
- Bridesmaids attire – £582
Expect the Unexpected
It’s always a good idea to allocate a certain percentage of the wedding fund to cover any hidden extras or unexpected costs that might crop up along the way (new tyres for the Batmobile, for example). The gurus at Confetti.co.uk recommend setting aside 10% of the overall budget.
And don’t forget to whip out the old monocle for a close-up inspection of the finer print, chaps. From corkage fees to VAT and even your bog standard heat, light and electricity, you need to be fully aware of any potential ‘hidden costs’ that could easily send your final figure spiraling.
From your simple Google Planner and Excel staples to iphone, android and tablet apps, the virtual world’s your lobster when it comes to nifty tools to help organise your marital moolah. A few of the best:
Top notch budget planning tool, including;
- Fully comprehensive customisable lists.
- Suggested breakdowns according to location and total spend.
- Recommended spend based on the national average.
- Actual spend vs estimate.
- Multiple budget sheets to keep a handle on the stag do, hen night and honeymoon expenditure.
Rolling calculations, from planning right through to the main event;
- Provides projected estimate vs your estimate vs actual spend.
- Facility to allocate percentage of cost to particular person, with automatic update on your expenditure.
- Full customisable checklist, with option to delete/amend as necessary.
Offers a no fuss, no frills spreadsheet download.