The AOW A-Z of Getting Married is a resource for brides (and grooms) to be. It’s a welcome piece of sanity in an industry-saturated world where people are bombarded with what weddings they should have, what they should act like, and how a bride should feel. Created by the team behind Any Other Woman, this A-Z is the first collaboration of its kind, bringing together posts from readers across the AOW community filled with advice, wisdom and experience from sane, smart, real women, many of whom have been there. From wedding planning to family trials to breaking taboos, no topic is out of bounds. We are honoured and excited to run each and every post, and we learn from each and every one of our readers.
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B is for Budget, by Linsey.
So I’ve been given the B-word to tackle for the AOW A-Z. Budget. The one that no-one really likes to discuss but is pretty essential for any wedding. Be it large or small, everyone has one. The wedding magazines will suggest one for you but in my experience (and I don’t think I’m alone in this) these don’t always look much like real wedding budgets. I’m not going to discuss a particular budget bracket but just how I went about managing our spending. Hopefully then whatever your budget you’ll find something useful from this.
So, budget tip number one: Get one. Sounds obvious but I think having a rough idea of what you’re comfortable with spending will help with any decisions you’re making. If you need to save up then budgeting will give you an idea of how much you have to save and how long that will take.
Budget tip number two: Make a spreadsheet. As a list-loving lady I believe the wedding budget spreadsheet should be a source of pleasure, rather than dread. Ours was quite simple with four columns – item, estimated price, actual price, notes – and the totals at the bottom. But you can also download templates online if you’re Excel-challenged.
Make it pretty – customise it with your favourite colours, choose a new font (just not Comic Sans please!) anything that makes you happy when you open it. Make friends with your budget spreadsheet and visit it regularly (see tip number five).
Budget tip number three: Sit down with your other half and decide where you want your budget to go. This may require a bit of preliminary research to find out how much things actually cost. But it will help you both to see what’s important to you and where you can make cut backs. For example, we discovered neither of us was too bothered about fancy cars so used local black cabs instead to save money. But we both wanted a venue with good food and space for a ceilidh so spent more on that.
Depending on your situation this could be the biggest purchase you’ve made with your future husband/wife so it may throw up some surprises or cause some heated debate. Having these conversations early on in the planning stages will hopefully make the whole process smoother, or at least show you the areas where they might need convincing!
Budget tip number four: If you can, have a contingency. Sometimes suppliers let you down. Sometimes brides find ‘the dress’ (or two) but it comes with a heftier price tag than expected. Sometimes as you go through planning your priorities change. Keeping a little bit back and not stretching yourself to the absolute limit will make these things easier to manage. The last thing you want to come home to after honeymoon is a great big pile of debt and you can always treat yourself if you’re lucky and don’t have to use it!
Budget tip number five: Keep a close eye on it. There’s no point in doing any of the above if, once full-scale planning kicks in, you don’t keep on top of it. Keep your spreadsheet updated. Revise it as you go. If quotes come in that are way over what you estimated then use it to look for ways to cut costs elsewhere.
If it starts to get out of control, the sooner you realise the better. Don’t bury your head in the sand and pretend that it’ll all work out in the end. Chances are it won’t. Sit down and work out what has to give. It might be the date, the guest list or the fancy shoes but keeping your wits about you with the financial aspects of the wedding is important. It might not be much fun having to compromise but unfortunately it’s a necessary evil.
I hope these tips help you manage your wedding budget. They’re really just common sense and can be applied to any big spend. We tried to balance having a great wedding day with not spending every penny of savings that we had. I think we managed it quite well by making lower cost choices for some things, like making all our paper goods and buying my dress second hand. On the other hand we splashed out on getting married in the university that we both went to. These were the choices that worked for us, everyone and every wedding is different but the principles are the same.
And finally, love it, whatever the budget! It doesn’t matter what your budget is, as long as you spend it on what or who you love. If your priorities are a free bar for a handful of close friends and family go for it. If you’d rather have a big guest list and spend less on the invitations do it. There are no rules, it’s your wedding.