When I started planning for our wedding, I read about every single “budget wedding” post I could possibly find online. Titles such as “Planning a Wedding for Under $10,000!” and “My Awesome $3,897 Wedding” and “How to Have a Wedding for Under $5,000” all jumped out at me. But the one thing they all had in common – their advice was way too specific to their situation. I simply don’t have a relative with a large lake home, or a mother-in-law who knows how to sew a wedding dress in less than 8 weeks. It was all interesting information on how those brides pinched pennies in order to save money for their honeymoon, or a downpayment on a house, or simply to stay out of debt – but it wasn’t relevant advice I could apply to our planning.
I don’t know what you and your fiancé’s financial situation is, but I am willing to bet that these five wedding budget tips I learned through the trials and errors of planning our small (45 guests!) DIY celebration will be completely applicable for your wedding planning situation. This isn’t your typical breakdown of exactly how much I spent and on what – because what Silas and I determined important won’t necessarily be important to you. Implement these simple budgeting tips and I know you’ll be released of so much wedding planning stress!
No bridezilla-ing allowed!
ONE: Ask For Your Future Spouse’s Opinion
One of the biggest mistakes I made was assuming my future husband didn’t care about certain aspects of the wedding plans. I started making arrangements without even thinking to ask for his opinion, and in doing so I unintentionally made him feel insignificant and unvalued! Future brides, listen here: your groom might not care about some of those minor details, but he wants you to ask for his opinion! Even if he has a blank stare while you discuss floral arrangement options, he will feel respected by you validating the importance of his ideas. Planning your wedding is the first of many important decisions you’ll make for your life together, so use this time to practice communicating well!
This is why I created a beautiful Wedding Budget Worksheet complete with a “groom’s input” and “bride’s input” column! Be sure to grab your copy at the end of the post!
TWO: Determine Your Top Priorities
Before you get knee-deep in Pinterest inspiration (it happens very quickly!) stop and remember your WHY. What is the #1 important reason behind your wedding? My hope for you is that it’s something like ours: we wanted to celebrate our first day of marriage – because marriage is something worth honoring – in such a way that the Lord would be glorified and the gospel be portrayed to everyone attending. When we remembered this, the little details that didn’t go as planned and the things we had to forgo due to our limited budget didn’t matter or make us upset. We had a small-budget wedding and it was absolutely beautiful – not because of the amount of money we had to work with, but because our goal was glorifying God. That’s a prayer he will always answer, no matter how much cash you have to work with!
THREE: Don’t Spend Too Much, Don’t Spend Too Little
Recently when I asked Silas what he thought about our wedding, he summed up the perfect response: we didn’t spend too much, we didn’t spend too little. It seems like a weird thing to say, especially if you’re working with a tight budget, but you have to remember to not go overboard on how intense you can dial it down. I can get a little too competitive with budgets, but I had to remind myself it was perfectly okay to splurge in the areas where we could, and wanted to.
Determine what your top “wants” are and cut out the things that don’t matter as much to the two of you. Want to ditch some of those “timeless traditions” that cost money and make you feel awkward? Do it. Or maybe you’re having a small family wedding like we had, and a large majority of your guests won’t be bustin’ a move on the dance floor. Maybe you forgo the D.J. and plug in your iPod, and put a little more money in the catering category for awesome cuisine. (We don’t regret that decision for one moment!)
FOUR: Recruit Your Tribe
Leaning on friends and family is something I am not naturally comfortable with. Wedding planning pushed me out of that shyness disguised as pride and taught me how to be grateful for the many people who came together to help us prepare for our wedding day. We had people baking desserts, hanging curtains, ironing tablecloths, and even fixing the chapel door when it fell off its hinges! (Thanks, Dad and Jonathan!) DIY-ing your wedding is a great way to save money, but always make sure to express your gratitude for your tribe’s help. The way ours banded together made us feel so loved and special, and was truly one of the best blessings of our wedding!
FIVE: Keep Track of those Expenses!
Learning how to communicate is one of the biggest obstacles many newlyweds tackle – and it starts even before you say I do. A budget is just another form of communication, and it’s something I highly recommend to make a monthly practice in your marriage. It’s one of the easiest ways to improve communication with your spouse! Budgets don’t have to be scary and depressing – they’re full of hope and empowerment. You’ll talk about your dreams, and make sacrificial plans together in order to win with your money. Instead of worrying if you’ll have enough in the current paycheck to cover that auto-drafted electrical bill, you’ll have the freedom to spend in the categories you’ve assigned when you stick to the written plan.
Keeping track of the running tally of wedding expenses will not only help you stay on budget for now, it will help you get a jumpstart on the discipline you’ll need when you’re married – and help you learn how to be accountable to your spouse with money!