There are a lot of opinions out there about how much money you should spend on your wedding, and how much you should spend of specific pieces of your wedding. The truth is, your wedding budget should be just as unique as your relationship, but with all the outside voices surrounding you it can be hard to know which things are worth spending big money on and which aren't.
Here are four questions to ask yourself before you and your partner create your wedding budget:
1. Who Do You Really Want to Celebrate This Day With?
My advice is to always set your guest list before you do anything else. The number of people you will share the day with is one of the largest factors that will affect your budget. It also has the greatest impact on your options for venues and what the feel of your wedding will be like. The biggest way to keep your budget in check is to limit your guest list. Don't feel pressured to invite friends you haven't spoken to in years or coworkers simply out of obligation. This is the day to celebrate your commitment to your partner. Who you share it with is totally up to you.
2. What Are Your Wedding Day Priorities? What Will You Value Most When You Look Back on Your Wedding Day?
Before you get caught up in preset budgets available all over the Internet that tell you to spend a certain percentage on your attire or a certain percentage on photography, have a conversation with your partner about what is most important to you about your wedding day. Are you two foodies that want the best cuisine? Are you lovers of craft beer and want to host your wedding at your favorite local brewery? Are you big into fashion and want to have a reason to sport designer attire on your special day? Are you in love with paper goods and always wanted an excuse to have beautiful letterpress invitations? Do you want a killer dance party and the best DJ in town? Or do you simply want to have the best candid photos of you, your partner, and all of your loved ones to cherish for years to come? Figure out your priorities together and expect to spend the most on the things you both value most. Prioritize everything, and then think long and hard about whether you need the items at the bottom of the list.
3. If You Are Going to Spend Money on Decor or Custom Items for Your Wedding, How Will They Be Used After The Day Has Come and Gone?
Two and a half years after my own wedding, I still have wedding decor and other items around my house that I don't care about and have no idea what to do with. Despite my best efforts, I got caught up in the "Etsy pretty things black hole" just like so many people do when planning a wedding. Supporting local and handmade business is awesome, but I didn't think enough about where I was going to put all these things or if I even wanted them.
To avoid repeating my mistakes, take a minute to pause and consider what life an item will have after your wedding day. If you have place cards, table numbers, signage, or other such decor elements, can they be recycled or sold after the wedding? If you can't think of a use for it, and you won't want it sitting around your house after the wedding, then reconsider whether you really need it at all.
Also, take a moment to consider items that you provide for your guests. Will those fancy letterpress invitations that you love and cherish end up in the recycling bins of your guests and family? Will those favors you spent good money on end up in the trash? Will those welcome bags you create be left behind because your guests don't have room to take them home in their carry-on luggage? It can be tempting to buy things based on other weddings we've seen, but weddings create a huge amount of waste, and you certainly don't want to blow your budget out of the water on items that will end up in a landfill just a few days later.
4. Do You Need a Wedding Planner?
Many couples on a budget think that extra help from a wedding planner isn't a necessary expense, but there are many instances where working with a wedding planner will actually save you money in the long run. We love a good backyard wedding, and as more couples opt for less-expensive and more intimate celebrations backyard weddings are becoming a staple. Hosting a wedding at home or at a venue where items such as tables, chairs, linens, and decor are not already included can sometimes end up costing you more. Many venues come with scary price tags, but the cost of setting up a wedding at home can be just as costly if you end up inviting more than just a handful of guests.
Any time you choose a venue that does not have a dedicated venue manager, it is worthwhile to look into hiring a wedding planner. Planners are obviously pros at putting on weddings, and that means that they already have resources for renting tables, chairs, linens, plates, utensils, glasses, decor, tents, and dance floors, and they also usually can get all of those items at discounted prices that would never be available to individual couples. The investment in a wedding planner or coordinator may seem like an unnecessary cost, but it really may end up saving you thousands of dollars and a whole lot of mental stress in the end.
Jen Siomacco is the CEO of Catalyst Wedding Co. She works to mesh together her love of feminism, love stories, equality and design into the layout and brand of Catalyst while she sits on her couch and snuggles up with her SUPER lazy cats.