The excitement of saying “I do” shouldn’t be tainted with the anxiety of impending wedding costs. It’s easy to associate over-the-top expenses with a wedding day, but I’m here to remind you that isn’t always the case! By setting realistic budgets and having open, honest conversations with your partner about your shared expectations, you’re setting up a solid foundation to start planning and seeking vendors for your special day. Remember to relax and enjoy the process, you only get to do it once so have fun!
Before we continue, it’s beneficial to outline the specific expenses and the average percentage of a budget to allocate to each. According to TheKnot’s article entitled, “The Biggest Wedding Budget Mistakes to Avoid,” here is their breakdown of wedding expenses.
The venue, Catering and/or Rental Costs: (50% of the budget):
The largest portion of your budget will go towards your venue hire, food caterers, alcohol and any extra rental choices like tables, chairs and tableware. This portion can also include your wedding cake.
Photography and/or Videography: (12% of a budget):
It’s important to set aside funds for your wedding photographer and/or videographer. These vendors are able to capture and create treasured mementos to cherish for many years to come. Many Melbourne wedding photographers offer different options to best suit your wedding day, for example, I offer both photography and videography in flexible packages.
Attire, Hair & Makeup (9% of a budget):
This covers the cost of the wedding dress as well as tuxedo attire, footwear and any desired accessories like cufflinks and jewellery. Included in this estimate can be any hair and makeup expenses, too.
Flowers & Decor (8% of a budget):
From the lighting and decorations at your ceremony and reception venue to the bouquets and floral arrangements, roughly 8% of a wedding budget goes solely to decor elements.
Entertainment (7% of a budget):
Whether you’re interested in hiring a live band or seeking a DJ to kick up the tunes at your reception, it’s recommended to do further research to secure the perfect entertainment within your budget.
Wedding Planner (3% of a budget):
Whilst a wedding planner isn’t for everyone, it provides peace of mind knowing a professional with industry experience is handling the finer details of your wedding day.
Wedding Bands (3% of a budget):
These rings signify your union and whilst you already have the engagement ring, it’s important not to forget about your wedding bands, too!
Stationary (2% of a budget):
Save the date cards and/or formal invitations are just the tip of the iceberg. Stationary can also include thank-you cards for your guests, ceremony programs, name cards and more.
Officiant (2% of a budget):
If you’re interested in hiring a celebrant to officiate your ceremony, I’d suggest allocating at least 2% of your budget.
Transportation (2% of a budget):
Whether you’re looking at hiring a limo for the wedding party or the perfect getaway car for the conclusion of the reception.
Guest Gifts (2% of a budget):
Whilst not mandatory, some couples like to provide their guests with parting gifts. A small gesture to say thank you for helping celebrate their love.
It’s important to remember this is merely a rough breakdown of wedding costs and will vary depending on each couple and their priorities. Keep reading below to find out how to establish your wedding budget!
It’s Time to Have the Talk!
The money talk, that is. Budgeting for your wedding is all about open communication between you and your partner (and any other parties who are contributing). The ability to talk honestly about finances ensures everyone is on the same page and will allow you to establish a realistic budget for your wedding day.
It can be tricky having these conversations. Nobody said it would be easy! But it’s better to lay the groundwork for responsible spending at the very beginning of your planning journey instead of allowing your expenses to spiral out of control and create a stressful experience.
There are some wonderful resources available to ensure you’re staying on track with your expenses! True Bride has an excellent budget calculator that you can access here. (https://www.truebride.com.au/wedding-planning/wedding-budget-planner/)
Bonus Round: Fancy a Game of 20-Questions?
Okay, so maybe not exactly 20 questions, but I do encourage you and your partner to sit down and realistically ask yourselves these questions.
- Based on your monthly income/s, what can you comfortably put away into savings, also taking into account your living expenses?
- How much, if any, can you dedicate from a current savings account?
- What is one thing each of you wants at your wedding, non-negotiable, and one thing that you could forgo?
Some Food for Thought!
Many elements go into a wedding, but did you know some of those said elements can have a lesser impact on your savings than others?
For example, by simply moving your reception forward, you’re decreasing costs as an evening reception tends to be more expensive than one held during brunch or the afternoon. Catering costs tend to be higher for the dinner period and you can save money on your decor when you don’t have to splash out on lighting.
Another aspect to consider is the particular season you chose to get married. The warmer months are abundantly more popular with couples and therefore, the demand for vendors increases significantly (which, of course, can impact prices.) If you’re flexible with the weather, I’d implore you to explore your options in the cooler months. Not only can you save a pretty penny, but you also open yourself up to some beautiful photographic conditions! Many picturesque Melbourne wedding venues can create stunning ceremonies and receptions in the winter months. Don’t let the cooler weather frighten you!
Crunch the Guest List.
I know this reality can seem quite daunting, but with each guest averaging $100 per head, this is one of the easiest ways to cut down costs if they begin to balloon out. Evaluate with your partner whether every single individual on the list is someone you couldn’t live without at your wedding. Sometimes it’s easier to remove your mother’s neighbour from the guest list than it is to sacrifice your dream flower bouquet. The smaller the guest list, the more you’ll be saving on extras like stationery, catering, favours and other details.
Prioritise and Prepare for the Unexpected!
To ensure your wedding has all the components you’ve always dreamed of, I would encourage you and your partner to create a priority list. By prioritising what is most important to the both of you, you’re avoiding disappointment if you find yourselves in a position of having to make cuts. Let these choices dictate your budget! Create a list of your top 3 must-haves and then potentially 3-things that aren’t a huge priority. This allows you to budget accordingly and to make sure you can have the wedding of your dreams!
Finally, it’s crucial to prepare for the unexpected and always read the fine line before signing your contracts. Blindly signing can result in extra expenses in the future. Always ask questions or seek further clarification if you’re unsure. If the original total snowballs to a higher price beyond your budget, don’t be afraid to cut back!