B is for Budget

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.

Categories: A-Z of Getting Married
13 interesting thoughts on this


  1. Carly
    Posted August 31, 2012 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Linsey. Your tips on compromise are very useful – I’m not very good at it and want everything, despite having a budget that definitely won’t allow for everything!


  2. Frances
    Posted August 31, 2012 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

    Spreadsheets are possibly the best things ever. Ours has an overall budget page with details of budget against how much we are spending and how much we have paid so far, plus separate sheets for different areas containing all the different quotes and services provided. Really useful post – thank you!

  3. Posted August 31, 2012 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

    Very sensible, balanced advice Linsey. I think maybe buying/booking the things that are the most important to you first and not spending a penny on anything else until those things are sorted will also help you prioritise the budget. So you’ll know what you have left to spend on other things. So for us we booked the church and the photographer first. We thought if all else failed (marquee blows away! Nobody can come! No caterer! Flowers don’t arrive!) at least we’d get married and have good photographs. (I am a worst case scenario person, can you tell? I had a spare wedding dress in case my wedding dress got covered in oil)

    I have had couples contact me who don’t even have a ceremony or reception venue yet, they just want to make sure they have great photographs, wherever it will be. That might seem madness to some people but it does happen. It makes very little difference to us where a wedding is going to be. And it’s very nice to be wanted. Like, really really wanted. I’m sure other suppliers feel exactly the same when they’re one of the first on people’s to do lists.

  4. Becca
    Posted August 31, 2012 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

    I agree with points 2 3 4 and 5 but maybe not 1 which is the “get one” budget. Not because we have a billion pounds and I’m all “oh yah no budget backcomb backcomb mulberry bag” (ok I am a bit) but because when you start planning you are COMPLETELY in the dark and you have no clue. I think you need to educate yourself with the costs of things before setting a budget.

    I think the wedding magazines estimate £800 for wedding photography AND videography….sorry but are they having a joke?! Had we looked at these, rather than looked at what we like and spoke to friends who had paid X Y and Z we would have thought that £800 was a lot to spend. We all know that its not.

    On the whole “we have XX to spend”, we don’t really do that either. We’ve paid for things as we go along and so its easy to not notice X going out of the account. Its also things like postage (ours was something like £90 postage – Anna, they are on their way) which no one ever puts in a spreadsheet because its boring. Can you tell I could never be an accountant?

    Our method is that we decide we want a hairdresser…..we look at portfolios and immediately discount everyone that has five feet hair made of straw. Then I’ve looked at prices and spoken with them (will I like them? Can I spend 5 hours with them on the day? Can they stop me rushing out too early because I am just too damn excited?). Then we’ve made a decision based on a combination of personality and price. We may have only put £50 down for hair but after doing research it turns out to be 5-10 times more.

    THIS is the stage we put it on the spreadsheet. I guess we are keeping an eye on things, but thats really only as a “we owe them X in this month” rather than “omg look how much we’ve spent”. Like I said before (Tuesday), nice things cost money and budgets sometimes can’t cope with that.

    Like Lucy, we booked our venue and photographer first. I have a florist, a hair dresser a make up artist and no dress. I know I could wear a bin bag and my photos would still kickass.

    Everything else is SO SENSIBLE you should DO IT IMMEDIATELY.


    • Lexie
      Posted August 31, 2012 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

      That’s quite an interesting point as we didn’t have a specific budget either and bought stuff as we went along. However, we knew we couldn’t afford a lot of things at ‘standard’ wedding prices so we tried to find creative solutions. Although you might not think you could get a photographer and videographer for £800, if that was your budget you totally could, maybe a student or someone just starting out? At the same time I agree that there will always be things that cost more than you expect. It’s all about making the budget work for you and your situation whether that means you have to be super strict with yourself or have room for more flexibility.

      Loving all these posts, I’m thinking they translate quite well to other aspects of life too!

      • Becca
        Posted August 31, 2012 at 10:02 pm | Permalink

        It’s worked the other way though. I estimated £600 for shoes and they cost £39. I am a big hammerer on prices though if I think someone is overcharging. We knocked £4.5k off our catering bill by haggling (and the menu stayed the same). Research research research.

    • Frances
      Posted August 31, 2012 at 9:46 pm | Permalink

      Erm, our postage estimates have gone on the spreadsheet – clearly one of us should have been an accountant (not me!)

      We put quotes on the sheet for all the people who we initially liked the look of so that we remembered who we were interested in and could compare more easily – although I suppose we are lucky enough to move bits of the budget depending on the people we’d found and whether we liked them.

      • Becca
        Posted August 31, 2012 at 10:00 pm | Permalink

        I had no idea a stamp costs 60p. Clueless

  5. Posted September 2, 2012 at 10:43 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the comments ladies! Becca, I understand what you mean about point 1 we didn’t really have a figure in mind either, but what I really meant was decide if you’re going for a budget affair, an ‘average spend’ – whatever that really is! – or a big budget wedding. No point looking at uber-expensive photographers if you’re looking to do the whole thing for under £3k. The “oh yah no budget backcomb backcomb mulberry bag” made me burst out laughing!!

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Hello! We're Clare, Aisling and Anna and welcome to a corner of the world where smart, flawed, real women talk about the bigger picture; about their experiences, stories and opinions on all aspects of being a woman today, from marriage to feminism to pretty, too.

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